Cattle Outlook: Beef Still in the Freezer

September 28, 2015 04:01 PM

The September USDA Cold Storage report said there is a lot of frozen meat in the country.
By: Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri

At the end of August there were 470 million pounds of beef in cold storage. That was 35.7% more than a year ago and 2.4% more than a month earlier. The amount of pork and chicken in cold storage was also up. The total of frozen beef, pork, chicken and turkey at the end of August was 2.385 billion pounds, up 18.6% from a year ago and the most for any month since October 2002.

The September cattle on feed report said the number of cattle placed on feed during August weighing less than 600 pounds was down for the 12th consecutive month. The number of cattle placed on feed weighing 800 pounds or more has been up for 11 of the last 12 months. The one month that was not up was unchanged. Heavy placement weights set the stage for heavy slaughter weights.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on September 12 set a new record at 919 pounds, up 5 pounds from the old record set just the week before, up 30 pounds compared to the same week last year, and above the year-ago level for the 65th consecutive week.

Cattle slaughter this week totaled 574,000 head, down 0.3% from the week before and up 0.2% from the same week last year.

Fed cattle prices were sharply lower again this week on good volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $128.47/cwt, down $6.60 from last week's average and down $24.65 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers this week was $202.47/cwt, down $10.78 for the week, and down $39.53 compared to the same week last year.

This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $213.45/cwt, down $13.74 from the previous Friday and down $24.74 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $210.68/cwt this morning, down $9.05 from last week and down $14.76 from a year ago.

Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were $2 to $6 lower this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $228-$258, 450-500# $213-$255.50, 500-550# $200-$227.50, 550-600# $195.50-$218, 600-650# $182-$215, 650-700# $170-$206, 700-750# $179-$202.75, 750-800# $188-$199.50, 800-900# $180-$191.75 and 900-1000#, $175-$185/cwt.

Cattle futures had a limit up day on Friday, but were still lower for the week. The October live cattle futures contract settled at $133.70/cwt today, down $2.30 for the week. December fed cattle settled at $137.00/cwt, down $1.37 from the previous week. February closed at $137.50/cwt.

October feeder cattle ended the week at $184.60/cwt, down $1.22 from seven days earlier. The November feeder cattle contract lost $2.02 this week to close at $181.60/cwt. January feeder cattle ended the week at $176.15/cwt.

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