Friday, December 19, 2014


CATTLE OUTLOOK – Ron Plain and Scott Brown

Ag Economics, MU   December 19, 2014


It has been a chaotic couple of weeks in the cattle markets. After

several days of limit lower prices on the futures market, this week

has ended with sharply higher prices, though still down for the week.


The December live cattle futures contract settled at $160.75, down

$1.30 for the week.  February cattle settled at $160.10/cwt, down

$2.07 from the previous Friday.  The April contract closed at

$159.67/cwt with a loss of $1.73 for the week.


Lower fed cattle prices and higher corn prices kept pressure on feeder

cattle futures this week.  The January feeder cattle contract ended

the week at $220.15/cwt, down $5.45 for the week. March feeders closed

at $217.97/cwt, down $3.28 compared to last Friday.  April feeders

ended the week $3.03 lower at $218.07/cwt.


The average retail price of choice beef during November was a record

$6.303 per pound.  That was 6.2 cents higher than in October and 89.4

cents higher than in November 2013.  All fresh beef was record high

for the sixth consecutive month averaging $5.975 per pound in

November.  Ground beef set a new record at $4.201 per pound during



The average live price for slaughter steers was a record $171/cwt in

November.  That was $6.40 higher than in October and $39.60 higher

than in November 2013.


Boxed beef prices declined this week.  This morning the boxed beef

cutout value for choice carcasses was $238.83/cwt, down $6.80 from the

previous Friday, but up $42.75 from a year ago.  The select carcass

cutout is $230.13/cwt, down $4.80 from last week, but up $42.96 from a

year ago.


Fed cattle prices were sharply lower this week on moderate sales

volume.  Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter

steers sold on a live weight basis was $157.51/cwt, down $5.60 from

last week’s average, but up $27.48 from a year ago.  The 5 area

average dressed price for steers was $249.92/cwt, down $6.63 for the

week, but up $42.49 over last year.         


This week's cattle slaughter totaled 552,000 head, down 3.0% from the

week before week and down 10.5% from the same week last year.


The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on December 6 was

901 pounds, unchanged from the week before, but up 24 pounds compared

to the same week last year.  This was the twentieth consecutive week

with steer weights at least 20 pounds heavier than a year ago.


Feeder cattle prices at this week’s Oklahoma City auction were $10 to

$15 lower compared to the week before.  This week’s prices for medium

and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $326-$369, 450-500#

$310-$322.50, 500-550# $270-$310, 550-600# $265-$282.50, 600-650#

$245-$260, 650-700# $230-$243, 700-750# $224.50-$235, 750-800#

$220-$227.50, 800-900# $206.50-$225, and 900-1000# $198-$204/cwt.

Thursday, December 18, 2014