Cattle Outlook

Ron Plain and Scott Brown
University of Missouri
September 12, 2014

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It should be no surprise given the record U.S. beef prices this year that U.S. beef exports were down 13.5% in July and imports were up 37.1%. Yet, through the first seven months of the year, U.S. beef exports were up 1.4% compared to January-July 2013. The biggest export growth markets are Hong Kong and Mexico. Beef imports are up 15.4% with Australia supplying 68% of the increase. Imports of live cattle were up 11.7% during the first 7 months of the year.

Domestic beef demand was up 0.7% in July. Beef demand has been up each month since January. Chicken and turkey demand were both down in July.

USDA is forecasting a record corn harvest of 14.395 billion bushels with a season average price of $3.50 per bushel. They are predicting a record soybean harvest of 3.913 billion bushels with an average price of $10.00/bu.

Boxed beef cutout value was mixed this week. The cutout value for choice carcasses this morning was $250.53/cwt, up $1.97 from last Friday and $57.47 higher than a year ago. The select cutout was $235.53/cwt on today's morning report, down $1.77 for the week, but $59.21 higher than a year earlier.

Fed cattle prices eased a bit this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis were $158.70/cwt, down 52 cents from last week's average, but up $35.70 compared to a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers lost 11 cents this week to $249.83/cwt. This week last year the dressed price averaged $194.28/cwt.

Cattle slaughter totaled 592 thousand head, up 14.3% from the week before (which was light because of Labor Day) and 3.7% fewer than the same week last year. The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending August 30 was 877 pounds, down 3 pounds from the week before, but 10 pounds heavier than the same week last year.

Feeder cattle prices were $3 to $8 higher this week at Oklahoma City. This week's price ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $295-$324, 450-500# $275-$317, 500-550# $244-$286, 550-600# $243-$261, 600-650# $234.50-$253, 650-700# $219-$248, 700-750# $210-$244, 750-800# $214.50-$229.50, 800-900# $216-$227, and 900-1000# $198-$215/cwt.

The October live cattle futures contract closed at $156.27/cwt today, down $3.48 on the week. December fed cattle settled at $159.25/cwt, down $1.67 for the week. The February contract ended the week at $159.57/cwt, up 37 cents from the previous Friday. The September feeder cattle contract gained $3.75 this week to end at $229.47/cwt. October feeders closed the week at $225.92/cwt, up $1.55 compared to the Friday before.

The September corn futures contract ended the week at $3.39/bushel, down 7 cents for the week. December corn closed at $3.385, off 18 cents from the previous Friday.

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