Will momentum in cash cattle market continue?

Jeff Swenson

Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. The Market Update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.

Jeff Swenson

Cash cattle were higher last week nationally. Sellers tested the market this week to see if the momentum would continue. Trade developed Tuesday with steady to higher prices.

While the fed cattle market continues above levels for last year, the cutout value finished last week $0.50 below the same time last year, posting at $257.05. The cutout value, however, is tracking higher year-to-date compared to a year ago, averaging $270.00 through the first week in April compared to $232.00 in 2021.

Harvest numbers last week were higher than many expected given the Good Friday holiday at 634,000 head. Harvest was estimated at 114,000 head on Friday and 22,000 head on Saturday, helping to put it 37,000 head below the previous week and just 7,000 head less than the same week last year.

Estimates this week showed strong packer production schedules with some speculating the harvest could be 660,000 head. That would take an aggressive Friday and Saturday harvest. For now, the supply of fed cattle appears manageable with feedlots fairly current, but the USDA Cattle on Feed report is expected to see a growing number of cattle to be marketed beginning in May.

It is reported there is not a lot of pen space available in most parts of the country. Cattle feeders are optimistic prices will be strong behind the upcoming surge in supply and are reluctant to be caught with fewer cattle to market if that becomes reality.

Pork carcass cutout value finishes strong

The pork carcass cutout value finished strong last week, although $2.90 below the same week a year ago, ending at $110.21. Harvest is still running 6.1 percent behind 2021 year-to-date.

Last week’s estimated harvest of 2.437 million hogs was 78,000 hogs less than the previous week and 106,000 hogs below the same week last year.

Cash hogs were called $0.90 higher, and much like the cattle sector, producers are hoping the full production week brings steady to higher prices. With packer margins slim, it will take higher cutout values to pull cash hogs higher.

Market hog supply tends to lessen now and into the summer months. While many traders and analysts see the pork complex fundamentals as bullish, momentum in the market remains tentative.

The latest weekly export sales report showed sales of just 12,900 metric tons of pork heading to foreign buyers. This is a marketing-year low and turned Lean Hog futures contracts lower Thursday. It remains to be seen if the lower than expected export sales total is a one-week anomaly or if exports will struggle amid global concerns.

5% nation's laying hens impacted by HPAI

Approximately five percent of all egg laying hens in the U.S. have been affected by High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).  The retail price of eggs was $2.95/dozen last week compared to $1.60/dozen at the beginning of 2022.

HPAI may not be the only factor in the increase. Seasonal demand and transportation costs likely played a role as well. The price per dozen was $1.00 in November 2021.

Combining egg layers and broilers, 1.3 percent of all chickens have been impacted by HPAI along with six percent of the nation’s turkeys. The whole broiler price last week was $1.66/pound compared to $1.00/pound this time last year. Fresh turkey prices were $1.52/pound last week compared to $1.31/pound this time in 2021.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were mostly steady to higher. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $123.00 to $141.00/cwt. High Choice and Prime cattle with an overnight stand at the auction market sold from $140.00 to $145.00/cwt.

Choice and Prime Holstein steers were higher this week, at $94.00 to $126.00/cwt., with reports of some high yielding steers selling to $130.00/cwt and a few packages higher. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $72.00 to $94.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were mostly $100.00 to $134.00/cwt.

Cows were $1.00 to $2.00 higher at $57.00 to $80.00/cwt. Beef breed cows in fleshier condition sold into the low $90.00s/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $56.00/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were steady to higher, bringing $85.00 to $175.00/head with heavier, well cared for calves up to $290.00/head. Beef and beef cross calves were lower, bringing up to $400.00/cwt and some above. Market lambs were bringing up to $280.00/cwt.