Although beef production this year is estimated to be 2.1% less by the Livestock Marketing Information Center, record-large pork and broiler production set the stage for record-large red meat and poultry production.
“The ratio of steers to heifers in feedlots since April of this year has reached levels not seen since the cyclical expansion in the early 1990s," says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.
Calf prices were widely inconsistent this week at steady to $5 per cwt higher, to $5 lower with instances of $10 either way, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Feeder cattle traded steady to firm.
September placements of feeder cattle weighing 800 pounds or more increased 7.8% year over year, representing 43% of placements, according to the monthly Cattle on Feed report. Total placements of 1.93 million head were 4% less year over year.
Wariness was most apparent in the cash fed cattle market. Trade remained at mostly a standstill through Friday afternoon with a sizable gap between prices cattle feeders wanted and those being offered by packers.
“The next two weeks are likely to be the most critical in determining the cattle market situation for the remainder of the year,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.
Beef export value in August (most recent data) was 24% less than year-ago levels, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation this week. Export value of $498 million was the lowest in 18 months. By volume, exports were 18% less than a year earlier.
Calf and feeder prices finally reversed course this week. From mid-week onward—thanks to a rally in cattle futures--calves traded firm to $5 per cwt higher (instances of $10 higher) and yearlings brought $3-$10 more, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).