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Cattle Outlook: Smaller Herd

18:19PM Jan 05, 2015

This is New Year's week and the number of cattle reports is smaller than normal
By: Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri

Boxed beef prices rose for the second week in a row. This morning the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $248/cwt, up $3.39 from the previous Friday and up $45.73 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $238.97/cwt this morning, up $3.06 from last week and up $41.60 from a year ago.

Fed cattle prices were also higher this week on moderate sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $165.93/cwt, up $3.92 from last week's average and up $28.47 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers was $264.79/cwt, up $7.82 for the week and up $47.65 from this week last year. This week's fed cattle prices are the highest since the first week of December.

Cattle slaughter this week totaled 452,000 head, up 15.6% from Christmas week, but down 13.9% from New Year's week last year.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on December 20 was 892 pounds, down 7 pounds from the week before, but up 21 pounds compared to the same week last year. For all of 2014, steer dressed weights averaged about 1% heavier than in 2013.

Because of the holidays, many of the nation's feeder cattle auctions were canceled this week, including Oklahoma City. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group on light volume at Missouri auctions were: 400-450# $292.50-$321, 450-500# $259-$312, 500-550# $248-$306, 550-600# $241.50-$267.25, 600-650# $227-$260, 650-700# $217.75-$249, 700-750# $206.50-$234.50, 750-800# $215-$220.25/cwt.

The February live cattle futures contract today settled at $165.67, up $3.20 for the week. April fed cattle settled at $164.57/cwt, up $3.10 from the previous Friday. The June contract closed at $157.05/cwt with a gain of $4.25 for the week.

Nearby corn futures lost 19 cents per bushel this week. That and higher fed cattle futures gave a strong boost to feeder cattle futures. The January feeder cattle contract ended the week at $223.95/cwt, up $10.23 for the week. March feeders closed at $221.45/cwt, up $9.56 compared to last Friday. April feeders ended the week $9.62 higher at $222.32/cwt.