Cattle Quick Thoughts
Mississippi cattle prices have shown steady improvements since mid-February. Average auction prices for lighter weight (500-550lb) and heavier (750-800lb) steers are each about $10/cwt higher than six weeks ago. Perhaps the most impressive 2017 MS price rally has been in cull cow prices. Boning utility cull cows ended the week at $67.50/cwt – up about $17 or 25% since the end of January. While cull cow prices are historically seasonal, the increase we’ve seen over the past two months is higher than normal. For comparison, the average seasonal rally for this time of year is about $8/cwt or 10% (see this comparison in a chart HERE). These seasonal rallies are usually not followed by immediate sharp declines as they are supported by stronger ground beef demand during the warmer months. Cull cow prices in Mississippi have historically held steady during April to August over the past five years. During these months, the five-year average low is only $3 below the average high. Cull prices generally deteriorate significantly after September each year.
Cash traded fed cattle dropped slightly to an average of $127.88 for live sales, $1.07 lower than last week. Dressed steers were down $7.63 to an average of $205.34. Fed cattle trade volume was just under 53,000 head.
Mississippi auction prices were steady to slightly higher this week. Feeder steers weighing 450-500 pounds were a buck higher this week to $154.50 while 750-800 pound steers were unchanged at $122.50. Average feeder prices in Oklahoma City for 500-550 pound steers were down $5.74 to $160 while OKC 750-800 pound steers were up $3.85 over last week to $136.96.
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Cattle futures prices decreased this week after six straight weeks of gains. April live cattle were down $2.15 to $119.93 while June live cattle were down $1.85 to $110.88. April feeder cattle were down $1.75 to $133.75 while May feeder futures dropped $1.47 on the week to $132.40. Corn futures prices were up this week with May and July futures each up 9 cents to $3.64 and $3.72, respectively.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were lower this week, ending an impressive five-week rally. Choice boxes averaged $217.15, down $5.97 from a week ago. Select boxes ended the week at an average of $209.79, down $5.51 from last week. The choice-select spread was $7.36, down 46 cents from last week.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel unless stated otherwise.