Steve Kay's Friday Market Update


The cash live cattle trade Friday morning was very light up north and inactive down south. USDA’s mandatory price reporting service reported that Nebraska sold 5257 head at $257.00 per cwt dressed, with a few at $159.61 live, for a weekly total of 27,748 head. Iowa-southern Minnesota sold 1276 head at $252.27 dressed or $160.00 live for a weekly total of 9367 head. Kansas sold 441 head for a weekly total of 10,704 head. Texas sold no cattle for a weekly total of 2938 head. The totals include negotiated cash and negotiated grid sales.

Live cattle futures closed higher. April closed up 187 points at $161.17 per cwt (versus $157.80 last Friday), June closed up 217 points at $151.20, August closed up 187 points at $149.72, October closed up 165 points at $151.22, December closed up157 points at $152.00 and February closed up 130 points at $151.37.

The week’s cattle slaughter was an estimated 544,000 head (versus 589,642 head last year), with Friday’s kill 105,000 head and Saturday’s kill 4000 head. Year to date FI slaughter is an estimated 8.740M head, down 7.5% or 709,000 head from 2014’s 9.449M head. Hog slaughter year to date is up 5.5% or 1.890M head on last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were sharply lower on light demand and moderate offerings. The Choice cutout declined $3.02 per cwt from the day before to $256.99 per cwt (versus $257.79 last Friday) and the Select cutout declined $3.42 to $247.62 (versus $250.97 last Friday). The Choice-Select price spread was $9.37 versus $6.82 last Friday. The reported spot boxed beef trade for the week was 539 loads of fabricated cuts, up 12.5% from the 479 loads last week.

Packer margins for the week were positive by $23.94 per head, compared to a negative $12.730 the week before, according to



USDA released its monthly Cattle on Feed (COF) report Friday afternoon. The numbers for U.S. feedlots 1000 head or larger were:

  • COF 1 April 1: 10.797M head, 100.0% of a year ago
  • Placed in March: 1.809M head, 100.0%
  • Marketed in March: 1.631M head, 98.3%

Analysts regarded the report as somewhat bearish. March placements were 5.1% higher than forecast and much larger than last year in the heaviest weight category. March marketings were down 6.2% after taking one extra slaughter day into account. So the April 1 COF total was 1.2% above forecasts and returned to being 100% of a year ago (with 5000 head more on feed).

Nebraska had more cattle on feed than Texas, 2.530M head versus 2.470M head. Kansas was third with 2.110M head. Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Washington had more cattle on feed than a year ago. California, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Washington all placed more cattle than a year ago. But Texas placements were down 11% or 50,000 head on a year ago.

The weight breakdown showed the only year-on-year increase was in the heaviest category, as in December, January and February. The under 700 lb category saw a 10.5% or 75,000 head decline. The 700-799 lb category saw a 3.6% or 17,000 head decline but the 800 lbs and over category saw a 16.1% or 100,000 head increase.

Four states marketed more cattle in March than last year: Colorado (up 8%); Iowa (up 14%), Kansas (up 7%), Minnesota (up 31%). Nebraska marketings were the same as last year while Texas marketings were down 10%. Nebraska marketed 395,000 head versus 385,000 for Texas and 370,000 for Kansas.

Have a good week,

Steve Kay



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