Cattle Outlook

Ron Plain and Scott Brown
University of Missouri
October 17, 2014

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USDA's October crop report predicted that this year's harvests of corn and soybeans will both be the largest of record. The corn harvest is estimated at 14.475 billion bushels, up 550 million bushels from the previous record set in 2013. The soybean crop is forecast to be a record 3.927 billion bushels. The old record was 3.359 billion bushels harvested in 2009.

The corn yield is forecast to be a record 174.2 bushels per acre. The old record was 164.7 bushels set in 2009. The soybean yield is expected to be a record 47.1 bushels per acre. The old record was 44.0 bushels per acre set in 2009 and again in 2013.

USDA is predicting the marketing year average farm price of corn will average $3.40/bushel. That is down $1.06 from the year before and down $3.49 from two years ago. U.S. corn prices dropped below $4 per bushel in August for the first time since August 2010.

Boxed beef cutout values were mixed this week. The cutout value for choice carcasses this morning was $248.91/cwt, up $1.21 from last Friday and up $53.50 from a year ago. The select cutout was $234.53/cwt on today's morning report, down 59 cents for the week, but still $54.54 higher than last year.

Fed cattle prices held steady this week on heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $163.74/cwt, up 20 cents from last week's average and up $34.35 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers lost 4 cents this week to $257.75/cwt. A year ago the dressed price averaged $203.57/cwt.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 620 thousand head, up 0.5% from the week before, but 8.9% lower than the same week last year.

The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending October 4 was 896 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before and 21 pounds heavier than the same week last year. This was the eighth week with weights up by double digits compared to last year.

Feeder cattle prices were $3 lower to $5 higher this week at Oklahoma City. This week's price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $311-$321, 450-500# $293-$316, 500-550# $273-$296, 550-600# $245-$287, 600-650# $226-$268, 650-700# $224.50-$260, 700-750# $225-$257.25, 750-800# $221-$250, 800-900# $218-$240.50, and 900-1000# $211-$216/cwt.

The October live cattle futures contract closed at $165.05/cwt today, up 15 cents on the week. December fed cattle also settled at $165.05/cwt, down 25 cents for the week. The February contract ended the week at $164.02/cwt.

The October feeder cattle contract lost $2.05 this week to end at $238.45/cwt. November feeders closed at $234.5/cwt, down $5.05 for the week. The January feeder cattle contract ended the week at $228.12/cwt, down $4.98 compared to the previous Friday.

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