Feeder Cattle Prices Ended The Week Higher

   Fed cattle prices backed off a bit from last week’s record highs. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $149.13/cwt, down $1.51 from a week ago, but up $21.41 from a year ago. Steer sales on a dressed basis averaged $238.29/cwt this week, down $1.69 from a week ago, but up $35.03 from year ago. Sales volume was moderate.
   This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $236.88/cwt, up $12.32 from the previous Friday and up $39.16 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is $233.27/cwt, up $11.61 from last week and up $38.17 from last year.
   The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that non-farm payroll increased by 175,000 jobs in February. That is a good sign for the economy and for meat demand.
   Statistics Canada reported the January 1 inventory of cattle and calves was down 0.7 percent from a year ago. The Canadian inventory of cows and heifers that have calved was down 0.6 percent. The 2013 Canadian calf crop totaled 4.4897 million head, up 0.6 percent from the year before. The Canadian cattle herd is roughly one-seventh the size of the U.S. herd.
   This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 548,000 head, down 3.9 percent from the previous week and down 8.4 percent from the corresponding week last year.
   The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on February 22 was 866 pounds, up 4 pounds from the week before, but down 1 pound from a year earlier.
   Year-to-date beef production is down 7.0 percent.
   Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were not well tested in light volume due to a late winter storm. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 450-500# $223-$232, 500-550# $231, 550-600# $200-$212, 600-650# $190-$194.50, 650-700# $174.50-$189.50, 700-750# $167-$182, 750-800# $169, 800-900# $158-$165, and 900-1000# $155.25-$160.85/cwt.
   Cattle futures were mixed this week. The April live cattle futures contract closed at $143.25/cwt today, down $1.72 from last week's close. June fed cattle settled at $135.87, up $1.67 for the week. August settled at $133.85/cwt, up $1.23 from the previous Friday.
   Despite a strong rally in corn prices, feeder cattle futures ended the week higher. The March feeder cattle contract ended the week at $172.37/cwt, up $1.27 for the week. April feeders closed at $173.65/cwt, up 60 cents from the previous Friday. The May feeder cattle contract gained 70 cents this week to end at $174.40.∆
   DR. RON PLAIN AND DR. SCOTT BROWN: Agricultural Economists, University of Missouri
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