Cattle Outlook

Ron Plain and Scott Brown
Ag Economics, MU
December 30, 2016

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This is the final Cattle Outlook article. For over 1,500 weeks this summary of the week's cattle market has been published on AgEBB at the University of Missouri. The articles were first written by Glenn Grimes then by Ron Plain and Scott Brown. Ron is retiring, but Scott Brown will continue to do a weekly video update on cattle and hog markets that you can find at:

There were 531 million pounds of beef in cold storage at the end of November. That is 0.3% less than the month before, but 4.1% more than a year ago. Compared to November 30, 2015 frozen stocks of pork were down 7.2%, chicken stocks down 10.3%, and frozen turkey up 25.4%.

Beef production in 2016 was up 6% from the year before, but slaughter steer prices were down 18% ($27/cwt).

The cow herd continues to expand. Preliminary data indicate average daily steer and bull slaughter was up 7.1% and cow and heifer slaughter up 4.4% in 2016. Females made up 43.5% percent of cattle slaughter, the lowest share since 1972. The next annual USDA cattle inventory report will be released on January 31.

Fed cattle prices were higher this week on moderate sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $117.08/cwt, up $1.94 from last week's average, but down $16.91 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $188.85/cwt, up $9.06 from the week before and down $22.67 from a year ago.

Beef cutout value was also higher this week. This morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $203.31/cwt, up $4.30 from the previous Friday but $7.52 lower than a year ago. The select carcass cutout this morning was $193.68/cwt, up $6.61 from last week.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 507,000 head, down 11.4% from last week, but up 15.2% from the same week last year.

The average steer dressed weight during the week ending on December 17 was 908 pounds. That is unchanged from the week before and up 1 pound from a year ago. This was the first week with weights above the year-ago level since the last week of April. For the year, steer dressed weights averaged 1 pound lighter than in 2015.

Most feeder cattle auctions, including Oklahoma City, were closed for the holidays this week.

Live cattle futures were mixed this week. The December live cattle futures contract settled at $119.00/cwt today, up $4.43 for the week. February live cattle lost 25 cents this week and closed at $116.05/cwt. The April contract settled at $114.57, up 25 cents for the week. June ended the week at $104.67.

The January feeder cattle futures contract ended the week at $130.45/cwt, down 67 cents from a week earlier. March feeder cattle lost $2.07 this week to settle at $125.10/cwt. April feeder cattle closed at $124.65/cwt.

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