CATTLE OUTLOOK – Ron Plain and Scott Brown
Ag Economics, MU May 1, 2015
USDA’s April cattle on feed report said the number of steers on feed
was up 5.4% at the start of April while the number of heifers in large
feedlots was down 10.1%. That gap of 15.5 points is the largest since
October 2005. The number of heifers on feed, 3.342 million, was only
44.8% of the number of steers on feed, 7.455 million. This is the
first time the heifer/steer ratio has been under 50% since USDA
started this data series in 2001. Both percentages are obvious
indications of aggressive heifer retention and upcoming herd growth.
The number of cattle weighing 800 pounds or more placed on feed in
March was up 16.1%. The number placed weighing less than 800 pounds
was down 7.8%. Placement of more heavy weight cattle mean fewer days
Fed cattle prices this week were higher on moderate volume. Through
Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live
weight basis was $159.17/cwt, up 26 cents from last week’s average and
up $11.38 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week
for steers was $253.90/cwt, up $1.76 for the week and up $17.52
compared to the same week last year.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $254.50/cwt, down
$4.28 from the previous Friday, but up $25.26 from a year ago. The
select carcass cutout was $242.38/cwt this morning, down $6.90 from
last week, but up $24.12 from a year ago.
Cattle slaughter this week totaled 566,000 head, up 4.0% from the week
before, but down 7.2% from the same week last year. Year-to-date
cattle slaughter is down 7.4% and beef production is down 5.2%.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on April 18 was
872 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and up 28 pounds compared
to the same week last year. Steer weights have been above year-ago
each week since June 14, 2014.
Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were mostly steady to $4 higher
this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight
group were: 400-450# $306, 450-500# $278-$289, 500-550# $269-$292,
550-600# $235-$271.50, 600-650# $220-$268, 650-700# $229-$247,
700-750# $222.50-$229, 750-800# $210.25-$218, 800-900# $193-$211.50,
and 900-1000#, $182-$196.25/cwt.
Cattle futures declined this week. The June live cattle futures
contract settled at $149.17/cwt today, down $2.03 for the week.
August fed cattle settled at $147.82/cwt, down $1.90 from the previous
week. October fed cattle lost $1.62 this week to settle at
$149.60/cwt. December live cattle ended the week at $150.67/cwt.
The May feeder cattle contract ended the week at $213.62/cwt, down 45
cents for the week. August feeders settled at $215.07/cwt which is 60
cents lower than the week before. September feeders ended the week at