Cash Fed Cattle $3 Higher, Trade Light

Charolais cross steers, Nebraska
Charolais cross steers, Nebraska
(Jeremy Kuklish)

Cash cattle traded mostly $3 higher on the week, despite light volumes and varied interest from packers. Cattle in the South sold at $113 per cwt. and cattle in the North at $112 to $113, with dressed sales at $178 per cwt., $3 to $5 higher than last week. Most asking prices ended the week at $114 to $115.

Feeder cattle were called steady to slightly higher on the week.

April live cattle futures posted a key bearish reversal Friday, climbing to a new contract high early in the session but later faltering and finishing below yesterday’s low and at a new low close for the week. April finished at $121.85, or 85 cents lower for the day and 67 ½ cents lower for the week. Other contracts posted daily losses ranging from 95 cents to $1.725. Feeder cattle faced heavier pressure and closed $1.75 to $2.10 lower after a wide-ranging day of trade.

Choice boxed beef closed Friday at $233.90 per cwt., $10.85 higher than last Friday. Select boxed beef closed at $213.15 per cwt., $9.28 higher than last week.

Estimated cattle slaughter was 653,000 head, compared to 637,597 head last year. Total year-to-date slaughter was 2.682 million, 7.1%below last year.

USDA’s annual Cattle Inventory report released Friday estimated the total U.S. herd on Jan. 1, 2021, at 93.6 million head, about 200,000 head fewer than in 2020.

All cows and heifers that have calved totaled 40.6 million head. The total beef cow number was 31.2 million head, 1% fewer than a year ago. Dairy cows totaled 9.44 million, up 1% from last year.

The 2020 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, down 1% from the previous year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2020 were estimated at 25.8 million head, down 1%  from the first half of 2019. Calves born during the second half of 2020 were estimated at 9.39 million head, 27% of the total 2020 calf crop.


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