CATTLE OUTLOOK – Ron Plain and Scott Brown
Ag Economics, MU January 29, 2016
USDA’s January Cattle on Feed report said there were 0.5% fewer cattle
on feed than at the start of 2015. In an indication of the pace of
herd expansion, the number of steers on feed was up 3.1% and the
number of heifers down 7.3% at the start of this year. The number of
steers on feed has been above the year ago level for 6 consecutive
quarters while heifers on feed have been down for 14 quarters in a
row. Only 32.2% of cattle on feed were heifers, the lowest percentage
for any January since before my data series on this begins.
USDA’s latest Cold Storage report said there were 514 million pounds
of beef in cold storage at the end of December. That was 0.6% more
than the month before and 15.6% more than a year ago. It was the most
frozen beef since the end of April 2012. Stocks of frozen pork were
up 8.3% year-over-year and frozen chicken stocks were up 21% compared
to December 31, 2014.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $218.85/cwt, down
$6.58 from the previous Friday and down $24.54 from a year ago. The
select carcass cutout was $217.33/cwt, down $3.65 from last week and
down $19.70 from a year ago.
Despite a lower boxed beef value, fed cattle prices were higher this
week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers
sold on a live weight basis was $131.00/cwt, up $3.38 from last week’s
average, but down $28.47 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed
price this week for steers was $209.16/cwt, up $7.16 for the week, but
down $40.91 compared to the same week last year.
This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 567,000 head, down 0.4% from last
week and also down 0.4% from a year ago.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on January 16 was
898 pounds, down 4 pounds from the week before, but up 16 pounds from
a year ago. This was the 83rd consecutive week with weights above the
Prices at the Oklahoma City Stockyards this week were $3 to $6 higher
on feeder steers and $5-$10 higher on calves than last week. Prices
for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450#
$216-$231, 450-500# $209-$216, 500-550# $188-$205.50, 550-600#
$171.50-$194, 600-650# $160-$179, 650-700# $155-$170, 700-750#
$150-$168, 750-800# $152-$162, 800-900# $145-$153.50 and 900-1000#
Cattle futures were mixed this week. The February live cattle futures
contract settled at $135.30/cwt today, up $3.23 for the week. April
fed cattle settled at $134.00/cwt, up 93 cents from the previous week.
The June contract ended the week at $123.42/cwt, down 43 cents from
the previous Friday.
March feeder cattle ended the week at $157.25/cwt, down 65 cents from
a week earlier. April futures lost $1.15 this week to close at
$157.90/cwt. May settled at $155.82/cwt.