Cattle Outlook: Retail Prices Down from Last Year

(Wyatt Bechtel)

By: Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri Extension

The average retail price of choice beef during November was $5.764 per pound. That was 2.7 cents higher than the month before, but 44.5 cents lower than in November 2015. Prior to November, choice beef prices had declined for four consecutive months. The average price for all fresh beef last month, $5.542 per pound, was lower than both the month before and a year ago.

The five-area average price for slaughter steers was $109.30/cwt in November. That was up $7.60 from October, but down $19.00 from November 2015.

The broad measure of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies is the strongest since May 2002. The strengthening dollar is a problem for exports, as it makes U.S. products more costly on foreign markets. That will be particularly tough on agriculture since such a high percentage of U.S. farm products are exported.

Fed cattle prices were higher this week on light sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $110.23/cwt, up $1.34 from last week's average, but down $6.43 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $170.31/cwt, up 35 cents from the week before, but down $13.05 from a year ago.

Beef cutout value was higher this week. This morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $194.77/cwt, up $4.52 from the previous Friday and 14 cents higher than a year ago. The select carcass cutout this morning was $180.70/cwt, up $8.85 from last week.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 599,000 head, down 2.0% from last week, but up 2.2% from a year ago.

The average steer dressed weight during the week ending on December 3 was 913 pounds. That is down 3 pounds from the week before, but the same as a year ago. This follows 30 consecutive weeks with steer slaughter weights lighter than a year earlier.

Cattle prices were mixed this week at the Oklahoma City auction. Feeder steer prices were $1 to $5 higher but stocker calves were steady to $5 lower compared to the week before. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $166-172, 450-500# $155.50-$166, 500-550# $142-$156.25, 550-600# $130-$147.50, 600-650# $125-$142, 650-700# $118.50-$137.50, 700-750# $125.50-$138, 750-800# $129.50-$135, 800-900# $128-$136.50, and 900-1000# $126-$129.50/cwt.

Cattle futures were higher this week. The December live cattle futures contract settled at $112.32/cwt today, up $3.60 for the week. February live cattle gained $4.83 this week and closed at $115.35/cwt. The April contract settled at $113.60, up $3.35 for the week.

The January feeder cattle futures contract ended the week at $129.90/cwt, up $3.95 from a week earlier. March feeder cattle gained $3.80 this week to settle at $126.30/cwt. April feeder cattle settled at $125.60/cwt.


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