Cattle Quick Thoughts
The U.S. beef cow herd expansion has been a primary point in the discussion of the decline of cattle prices since 2014. The USDA Cattle Inventory Report will be released this week on January 31st and will offer insight into the state of the herd expansion. I expect the report to show that the U.S. beef cow herd continued to grow in 2016, although at a slower pace that the 3.5% increase we saw over 2015. Of particular interest to Southeastern producers will be the impact of the drought on the cow herds in Mississippi and surrounding states.
Fed cattle cash prices took a step backward this week. Cash traded fed cattle were down 48 cents to an average of $121.40 for live sales compared to $121.89 last week. Dressed steers averaged $193.58 this week, down from $194.82 last week. Trade volume was 76,057 head, down about 30,000 head from last week.
Mississippi steer prices were a mixed bag this week depending on weight class. Feeders weighing 450-500 pounds were up $2 at $142.50 while heavier 750-800 pound steers saw a price bump to an average of $118.50 compared to $117.50 last week. However, steers between 500 and 700 pounds experienced decreases in average prices.
Feeder prices in Oklahoma City for 500-550 pound steers were up $3.43 to $163.52 and OKC 750-800 pound steers averaged $132.79 which was up 63 cents from last week.
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Live cattle futures and feeder futures dropped this week. February live cattle were down $2.10 on the week at $118.05, while April live cattle were down $1.95 over last week to $117. March feeder cattle were down $4.35 from last Friday at $127.18 while April futures were down $3.82 on the week at $126.53. Corn futures prices also dropped this week with March corn down $0.07 to $3.63 and May corn futures down 7 cents to $3.70 as compared to last week.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were up this week with choice boxes averaging $192.09, up 44 cents from a week ago. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $188.57, an increase of $1.19 from last week. The choice-select spread shrunk further to $3.52.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel unless stated otherwise.