Lower Retail Beef Demand Reflected In Price

The Choice carcass cutout value has dropped significantly this week. January generally brings lower retail beef demand, so it is common for wholesale prices to back off from pre-Holiday levels. The cutout value averaged $291.45 last week, but lost $5.37 Tuesday and $6.31 Wednesday of this week. This is a larger decline than we would typically expect.

Show lists are larger this week, especially given a lighter production schedule during the two holiday shortened weeks. It would be expected that live cattle prices would also work lower given this news, but reports of higher cash bids began developing mid-week. Major winter storms are in the forecast early next week for the Eastern Seaboard and Great Plains. So, packers may be looking to own inventory ahead of the expected supply chain challenges.

Cash cattle finished last week $2.00/cwt higher.

The estimated harvest total last week was 508,000 head. That’s 113,000 less than the previous week and 27,000 fewer than the same week last year. The Saturday harvest was estimated at 7,000 head.

Market cow prices were another $1 to $3/cwt higher this week, indicating that post-Holiday ground beef demand is building.

Fed cattle prices were mostly steady to higher this week.

High Choice and Prime beef breed steers and heifers brought $166 to $170/cwt with some to $176. Choice steers and heifers ranged from $159 to $166/cwt. with mixed grading and those likely to grade Select bringing $150 to $158/cwt. Holstein steers were mostly steady to $1 higher. High grading steers brought to $148 to $153 with some lots to $155/cwt. Lower grading steers brought $122 to $148. Silage fed, under finished or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75 to $122/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were steady to higher, bringing $126 to $163/cwt with a few higher.

Cows were higher. A bulk of the cows brought $60 to $87/cwt with some fleshier dairy and beef cows selling into the low to high $90s/cwt and a few to $100/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $60/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were fully steady, bringing $100 to $300/cwt with some heavier, well-managed calves selling to $410. Beef and Beef Cross calves were lower selling up to $600/cwt.