Cash fed cattle sold in all regions at $115 to $120 per cwt., steady to $5 higher with last week. Dressed sales occurred at $180 to $190, also steady to higher. Negotiated cattle sales were reported at near 80,000 head, compared to less than 30,000 head the last three weeks of April.
Estimated cattle slaughter for the week is 555,000 head, some 55,000 head more than last week. Thursday was the first day slaughter totaled move than 100,000 since the pandemic-created slowdown at packing plants. Year-to-date cattle slaughter is down 6.9 percent (around 900,000 head) compared to the previous year and hog slaughter is 1.1 percent less (about 550,000 head).
As expected, the backlog of market-ready cattle has pushed steer carcass weights significantly higher. USDA’s carcass weight data released Thursday showed an average of 896 pounds, 43 pounds more than the 5-year average. Weights are expected to increase seasonally until the fourth quarter.
Friday’s Choice boxed beef price closed at $400.87 per cwt. down $35.93 for the week, and $60.01 lower (-13%) than two weeks ago. Select boxed beef closed at $376.06 per cwt., down $48.06 from last week.
CME cattle futures were mixed Friday, with June cattle down $1.10 to $97.70 and up 70 cents for the week. August cattle slipped 47.5 cents this week to close to $97.325 and October fell 95 cents to $99.40. For the week, cattle futures touched an eight-week high.
Feeder cattle traded steady $4 higher. Demand was called moderate to good as auctions in the Southern Plains saw many offerings cattle weighing over 800 pounds coming off rye or wheat pasture. Lighter cattle suitable for grazing saw good to very good demand. Auction receipts were 204,800 head, compared to 171,000 last week and 130,300 last year.
Agricultural Marketing Service reporters said seller interest has improved as feeder cattle prices slowly start to improve and more buyers attend sales.
Cattle on Feed released Friday counted 11.2 million cattle in feedlots, down 5% from a year ago. Placements were 78% of a year ago in April while marketings were 76% of a year ago.