Negotiated cash cattle trade showed moderate activity in the North, with prices mostly at $178 per hundredweight (cwt.) live and $280 to $282 per cwt. dressed, representing a $2 increase from the previous week. In the South, cattle traded mostly at $170 live, maintaining stability compared to the previous week. Feeder cattle saw a positive trend, with prices ranging from $1 to $7 higher, while calves remained steady or saw increases of up to $8.
Wholesale beef prices experienced a decline early in the week but managed to recover most of the losses by the end of the week. Choice boxed beef sold at $301.10 per cwt., marking a slight decrease of just $0.88 for the week. Select boxed beef closed Friday at $283.94 per cwt., down $0.74 from the previous week.
The weekly cattle slaughter estimate was 642,000 head, showing a decrease of 34,000 head compared to the same week in the previous year. The year-to-date total was down by 3.3% compared to last year, reflecting a slightly lower slaughter rate.
At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), June cattle futures saw a modest gain of 20 cents, closing at $165.725 on Friday. This represented a weekly increase of $1.325. August feeder futures showed a stronger surge, climbing by 60 cents to reach $235.10, reflecting a weekly gain of $6.125.
The latest report on cattle and calves on feed in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head revealed a total of 11.6 million head on May 1, 2023. This inventory is 3% lower compared to May 1, 2022. Placements in feedlots during April amounted to 1.75 million head, a 4% decrease from the previous year. Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.70 million head, down by 10% from 2022.
Overall, the cash cattle trade showed mixed trends, with slight increases in prices in some regions and stable prices in others. Wholesale beef prices experienced a temporary decline but managed to recover most of the losses. The cattle on feed numbers decreased by 3% compared to the previous year, with lower placements and marketings during April. These market dynamics highlight the ongoing fluctuations and challenges faced by the cattle industry, influenced by various factors such as supply and demand dynamics, feedlot capacity, and market conditions.