Friday’s report is anticipated not only for the information that enables market analysts to estimate slaughter cattle supplies, but also because the January report was unpublished due to the government shutdown.
Anecdotal evidence and supply observations suggest packers have recently had a negotiating advantage over feedlots. Packer margins continue to be wide and the supply of cattle on feed continues to be high.
Heavy winter precipitation has continued at intervals spanning December through early March while brutally cold temperatures add often devastating effects, and sub-zero readings continued this week in many areas.
Despite calf demand support, freshly weaned steer and heifer values have the potential to fall below $750 and $650 per head respectively which would equate to prices declining $5 more per hundredweight.
USDA continues to catch up on reports stalled by the shutdown and as part of catching up released the January Cattle on Feed report on February 22, and the Cattle Inventory report will be released February 28.