Cattle Outlook: Feeder Prices Climb

January 4, 2016 09:44 AM

Fed cattle prices are higher for the second week in a row.
By:  Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri

Note: Because New Years Day falls on Friday, this weekly report only covers market activity through Thursday.

Through Wednesday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $133.99/cwt, up $10.56 from last week's average, but down $32.09 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $211.52/cwt, up $11.94 for the week, but down $51.34 compared to the same week last year.

This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $210.83/cwt, up $13.20 from the previous Friday, but down $37.17 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $203.13/cwt, up $13.66 from last week, but down $35.84 from last year.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on December 19 was 907 pounds, down 2 pounds from the week before, but up 15 pounds from a year ago. This was the 79th consecutive week with weights above the year-ago level. Steer average dressed weight set a new record this year at nearly 892 pounds. That is 9 pounds heavier than last year and 56 pounds heavier than five years ago.

The average live price of fed cattle this year was a fraction under $148/cwt. That is down $6.39 from last year, but still the second highest yearly average ever.

Despite lower fed cattle prices, the average price for feeder cattle at Oklahoma City set new records this year. Medium and large frame #1 steers weighing 500-600 pounds averaged $253/cwt, up $8 from 2014. Steers weighing 700-800 pounds averaged $210/cwt at Oklahoma City, up $4 from the year before.

Cattle prices are likely to average lower in 2016. USDA expects U.S. meat production to be up 2.7% from this year with beef production up 4.3%.

This week there was no feeder cattle auction at Oklahoma City nor much of anywhere else because of the holidays. Most weekly feeder cattle auctions resume next week.

After big gains last week, live cattle futures were mixed this week. The December live cattle futures contract settled at $135.80/cwt today, up $4.70 for the week. February fed cattle settled at $136.80/cwt, down 22 cents from the previous week. The April contract ended the week at $137.97/cwt.

January feeder cattle futures ended the week at $166.90/cwt, up $3.43 from a week earlier. March futures gained $3.53 this week to close at $163.65/cwt. The May contract closed at $163.85/cwt today.

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