Cash fed cattle were up about $2/cwt this week. Texas cattle traded at $120-$121/cwt live. Kansas live cattle sold at $121. Dressed cattle in Nebraska sold at $191/cwt and live was $120-$122/cwt. Oklahoma City feeder steers were called steady to $3/cwt higher on a light test. Feeder heifers were $3-$5/cwt higher in OKC while calves were $3-$8/cwt higher. In Mississippi auction barns, feeder steers and heifers were mixed, while cull cows and bulls were $1-$2/cwt higher.
Live cattle futures contracts were mixed this week with little in the way of tangible news to grab on to. Most of the week was spent positing ahead of the monthly on feed report. The October contract moved higher to come in-line with higher cash prices while other nearby contacts slipped. More deferred live cattle contracts were higher reflecting the short supply in the pipeline. Feeder cattle futures were mostly higher despite mixed live cattle futures and higher corn. Corn pushed higher this week but spent the week all over the board. Strong exports and ethanol blending at the week’s end provided support.
Wholesale beef prices were lower on the week. Choice beef was mostly steady through Thursday before dropping about $1.50/cwt on Friday. The Choice average was 184.81/cwt, down $0.58 from last week. Select beef was mostly steady throughout the week but down $1.96/cwt versus last week’s average, now at $166.74, due to a sharp drop at the close of last week.
Cattle on Feed Recap:
This month’s Cattle of Feed report released Friday afternoon by USDA surprised analysts with respect to placements and total number on feed October 1. Pre-report estimates called for placements during September to be 5.5% below 2010. Actual placements were just about even with 2010. Total cattle on feed October 1 came in at 11.312 million head, 4.9% above 2010 and one percentage point above pre-report estimates. Cattle under 600 pounds led the jump in placements as the light weight group was the only one to be higher than last year, by 34.3%, while the remaining groups were 8.8%, 16.4% 3.4% lower for the 600-699, 700-799, and over 800 pound categories, respectively, compared to 2010. The report will likely put pressure on nearby futures contracts but more deferred contracts should view this report positively.