Futures Slip Post Memorial Day

Summary: The cattle market experienced mixed signals this week. Futures prices declined, driven by increasing margin requirements and liquidity concerns. However, cash prices saw a late-week surge due to packers seeking to expand their inventories. Slaughter numbers were down, but the percentage of fed cattle in the total slaughter continues to grow.

Futures Market:

  • Downward trend: Cattle futures continued downward, influenced by increasing margin requirements on all contracts. These higher requirements discourage trading activity, potentially reducing liquidity in the market.
  • Discount to cash: The June futures contract trades at a significant discount compared to cash prices, indicating a lack of confidence in the short-term outlook for cattle prices.

Cash Market:

  • Late-week surge: Cash prices for cattle rose towards the end of the week as packers attempted to boost their inventories and faced limited availability at lower prices.
  • Regional differences: Prices in the south were generally around $186 per cwt, while prices in the north reached as high as $192 per cwt. Dressed prices also increased, reaching $302 per cwt.


  • Decrease: The total weekly cattle slaughter was 540,000 head, down 67,000 from the previous week and 28,000 from the same week last year.
  • Fed cattle dominance: The proportion of fed cattle in the total slaughter continues to increase compared to previous years, highlighting the growing importance of this segment in the beef industry.

Additional Insights:

  • Carcass weights: The average carcass weight for the latest reporting week was 889 lbs, up 2 lbs from the prior week and 33 lbs heavier than last year. Carcass weights are a crucial factor in determining overall beef production.
  • Illinois auction summary: The Illinois Weekly Cattle Auction Summary (May 26th to June 1st) reveals a mix of trends in the state’s cattle market, with prices varying across different categories and weight classes.
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