Cattle Outlook: Cattle Slaughter Up, Retail Prices Down

September 19, 2016 12:16 PM
Cattle Outlook: Cattle Slaughter Up, Retail Prices Down

By: Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri

The average retail price of choice beef was $5.915 cents per pound during August. That is down 17.5 cents from the month before, down 41.3 cents from a year ago, and the lowest monthly average since May 2014.

The 5 area average price for slaughter steers was $116.60/cwt in August, down $1 from July, down $32.90 from a year ago, and the lowest average for any month since July 2012.

USDA's September crop production estimates left wheat unchanged from the month before, lowered corn production by 60 million bushels, and raised soybean production by 141 million bushels. Both corn and soybean production are records.

After three weeks of decline, fed cattle prices are higher in light sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $106.98/cwt, up $1.94 from last week's average, but down $28.09 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $168.05/cwt, up $1.77 from the week before, but down $45.20 from a year ago.

Beef cutout value was lower this week. This morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $186.06/cwt, down $1.88 from the previous Friday, and down $41.13 from this week last year. The select carcass cutout this morning was $178.53/cwt, down $4.47 from last week and down $41.20 from a year ago. This week's choice cutout value is the lowest since February 2013.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 604,000 head, up 14.4% from last week which was low because of Labor Day and up 4.5% from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on September 3 was 898 pounds, up 2 pounds from the week before, down 16 pounds from a year ago, and below the year-ago level for the 18th week in a row.

USDA's weekly crop progress report said that 16% of U.S. pastures were in poor or very poor condition on September 11. That is unchanged from the week before and down 3 points from a year ago.

Feeder cattle prices were steady to $2 lower this week at the Oklahoma City auction. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $143-$152.50, 450-500# $143-$151, 500-550# $139-$152, 550-600# $131-$147, 600-650# $129.50-$148.50, 650-700# $126-$139, 700-750# $133.25-$141.50, 750-800# $136-$136.50, 800-900# $122-$136.25 and 900-1000# $116.50-$124/cwt.

It was a good week for cattle futures. The October live cattle futures contract settled at $107.87/cwt today, up $3.47 for the week. December fed cattle settled at $108.05/cwt, up $2.65 from the previous Friday. February fed cattle futures settled at $108.27/cwt and April ended the week at $107.10/cwt.

September feeder cattle futures ended the week at $135.50/cwt, up $1.28 from a week earlier. October feeder cattle gained $1.68 this week to settle at $132.95/cwt. November feeder cattle futures closed the week at $130.70/cwt.

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