Cattle Outlook for the Week Ahead

Cash Trade: Cash trade has been slow this week, with bids sitting on the table but little movement following Thursday’s trade. Southern live cattle have sold chiefly for $187, $1 higher than last week’s average. Northern dressed cattle traded from $300 to $304, steady to $5 higher than last week’s average.

Prices: Asking prices are expected to be higher, with last week’s sales in the north at $192 live and $302-304 dressed, $2-4 higher. Texas sales mainly were $187, with some higher. Nebraska average prices hit an all-time high.

Slaughter: Last week’s slaughter was 607,000 head, up 9,000 from the previous week but down 18,000 head from last year. The fed cattle portion continues to be a more significant percentage of the total slaughter.

Boxed Beef Prices: Boxed beef prices closed higher last week, with choice up $0.61 and select up $1.64.

Futures: Feeder cattle futures were lower last week. The feeder contract’s lack of liquidity leads to high volatility.

Overall Outlook:

Optimism: Despite lower futures contracts, the cattle industry is optimistic due to tight feeder cattle supplies in the northern plains.

Weather: Warm weather and ample moisture have boosted optimism, with early-planted corn and soybeans proliferating. Hay producers are also ready to start harvesting.

Cattle on Feed Report: Friday’s Cattle on Feed report is estimated to show April placements down 6.1% and April marketings up 9.8%, potentially leading to a 0.8% decrease in the May 1 on-feed inventory. This report could influence market sentiment.

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