Fed cattle prices climb while whole beef prices fall

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

The deadline to apply for a M​eat and Poultry ​Supply Chain Resiliency Grant is approaching. Applications are due to DATCP no later than 5 p.m. August 19. The program offers grants up to $150,000 to new and existing licensed meat processing establishments to increase harvest capacity and/or increase production.  More information about the grant program can be at

Fed cattle prices up

Fed cattle cash prices are firm to higher this week after losing $1.60/cwt last week nationally. Live Cattle futures contracts worked higher the beginning of the week as well. Many analysts still believe we are working through the largest supply of fed cattle we will see this summer.

Wholesale beef prices are lower, but have avoided dropping sharply as demand remains strong. The Choice beef cutout value finished last week at $269.24, $1.15 lower, and was $267.94 on Wednesday, August 4. Harvest pace is brisk again, but running slightly behind last week. Last week’s estimate of 669,000 head was 4,000 head higher than the previous week and 23,000 head more than the same week last year.

Export sales had a disappointing week with just 12,200 metric tons sold to foreign buyers. That was down 52 percent from the previous week and 30 percent below the four-week average.

Pork cutout values plummet

Pork cutout values dropped sharply Wednesday, losing $5.53 to $125.49. Cutouts had seen good momentum leading into the week.

The latest weekly export sales report was encouraging with 31,000 metric tons of U.S. raised pork sold. The total was 43 percent higher than the previous week and up 35 percent from the four-week average. China accounted for over half the weekly total at 16,800 metric tons.

The estimated harvest total for last week was 2.291 million hogs, 6,000 hogs more than the previous week and 22,000 hogs lower than the same week a year ago. Hog harvest is running 3.7 percent behind year ago levels.

A recent Rabobank report says the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in Germany and Italy is not slowing and is threatening Western Europe. Experts believe human activity is causing the spread rather than wild boar contact.

Due to large culling and liquidation activity driven by ASF, the USDA estimates Thailand’s pork supply could drop by over 35 percent in 2022. The pork retail price in Thailand has surged by 60 percent since September 2021, according to the report.

Fed lamb prices mixed

Fed lamb prices were mixed nationally with some markets reporting firm to higher prices. Estimated weekly harvest was 32,000 head, 1,000 head less than the previous week and equal to the same week in 2021. Sheep and lamb harvest is 10.7 percent behind year ago levels. The gross lamb carcass value continues to slip and was $592.19 compared to $601.27 the previous week.

State livestock market roundup

Choice beef breed steers and heifers at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets were steady to $1.00 higher. High-yielding, high-grading cattle brought $124.00 to $144.00/cwt. Some markets reported high-yielding steers and heifers from $144.00 to $148.00/cwt and some cattle with an overnight stand at the market selling higher.

Choice Holstein steers were higher at $105.00 to $133.00/cwt with high grading Holstein steers bringing $133.00 to $138.00/cwt in some instances. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75.00 to $105.00/cwt. Dairy x beef steers were bringing $107.00 to $144.00/cwt.

Cows were higher at $57.00 to $81.00/cwt with some selling to the high $80.00s/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $57.00/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were lower, bringing $50.00 to $125.00/cwt with heavier, well cared for calves up to $165.00/cwt.

Beef and beef cross calves were bringing up to $315.00/head with a few higher. Market lambs brought $100.00 to $150.00/cwt with some reports to $180.00/cwt.