Cattle Quick Thoughts
The latest steer dressed weights released were down significantly from the previous week and from a year ago. We are continuing the trend of slaughtering lighter weight cattle which is pulling cattle through the feedlots at an aggressive pace. Dressed slaughter weights for the week ending May 6, 2017 were 30 pounds lower on average than in the same week last year. This is a 3.5% decline in average weights. Weights were 15 pounds lower than the previous week in 2017.
Also in the news this week, the Trump administration formally notified Congress of their intent to renegotiate NAFTA with the goal of modernizing and strengthening the 25-year-old agreement. This process will certainly be worth monitoring as Mexico and Canada are significant trading partners for U.S. beef.
Cash traded fed cattle prices continued to drop this week. Fed steers were down $3.59 to an average of $134.27 for live sales. Dressed steers were down $7.79 to an average of $212.74.
Feeder cash prices were also lower this week in Mississippi. Mississippi feeder steers weighing 450-500 pounds were down $4.50 this week to average $158 while 750-800 pound steers were down $3 to $132. Average feeder prices in Oklahoma City were down on Monday and Tuesday. 500-550 pound steers were down $6.36 to $171.11 while OKC 750-800 pound steers were down $2.07 from last week to $146.19.
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June live cattle were down $1.83 to $123.80 while August live cattle were down 83 cents to $121.38. May feeder cattle were down $1.13 to $143.45 while August feeder futures were down 55 cents on the week to $151.28. Corn futures prices were mostly unchanged this week with July and September contracts each up a penny to $3.72 and $3.79, respectively.
The gap widened between choice and select boxed beef values. Choice boxes averaged $248.36, up $3.81 from a week ago. Select boxes averaged $222.98, down $1.56 from last week. The choice-select spread grew to $25.38, up $5.37 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.