Cattle Quick Thoughts
Feeder cattle prices showed gains this week in Mississippi and around the country. There was significant strength in the prices for heavier weight feeders. 700-800 pound steers in Mississippi were up $6 on average over last week – this trend occurred in other markets around the country, too. Feedlots, the ultimate destination for MS feeder calves, are moving cattle through the system at an impressive pace which is supporting feeder prices. Demand for fed cattle remains strong as marketings (the movement of cattle from feedlots to packers) have been very aggressive during 2017. The cattle on feed report released today adds further credence to this point. Marketings were 10 percent higher in March 2017 than in March 2016. Slaughter weights are lower. These signs point to feedlots being very current (i.e. there is not a large supply of market ready cattle waiting in feedlots). Placements were up sharply as well – 11 percent higher than last year and at a record high level for March. Good demand for cattle throughout the system has helped spur feeder prices over the past few weeks.
Average cash prices continued to climb this week. Cash traded fed cattle were up $3.50 to an average of $131.62 for live sales. Dressed steers were up $3.88 to an average of $209.22. Fed cattle trade volume was 113,904 head.
Mississippi feeder steers weighing 450-500 pounds were up 75 cents this week to average $155.75 while 750-800 pound steers were up $6 at $130.50. Average feeder prices in Oklahoma City for 500-550 pound steers were up $4.56 to $174.71 while OKC 750-800 pound steers were up $3.11 from last week to $140.36.
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Cattle futures prices also rose this week. The biggest gain was in the nearby live cattle contract. April live cattle were up $4.40 to $129.85 while June live cattle were up $2.05 to $116.75. April feeder cattle were up $1.08 to $138.78 while May feeder futures were up 97 cents on the week to $139.25. Corn futures prices were down this week with May and July futures each down 7 cents to $3.63 and $3.71, respectively.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were also up this week. Choice boxes averaged $215.63, up $5.69 from a week ago. Select boxes ended the week at an average of $202.49, up $3.87 from last week. The choice-select spread was $13.14, up $1.82 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.