Beef Market Update: Beef in the system, higher steer weights, and cutout values

If you’re new around here, the Beef Market Update’s goal is to provide the most current information on beef exports, pricing, carcass weights, and boxed beef prices. Every second Friday, Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange joins us to cover what’s happening in markets both in Canada and the U.S.

This week, U.S. trade started off pretty solid, Wasko says. “We saw $1 to $2 higher in the south, $1.06 to $1.07 live, and in the north we’re getting $1.67 draft, so a couple bucks higher than last week. On the demand side, that choice cutout gained a little bit more ground — another buck and a half higher, closed the week last night at $2.19.”

The kill schedule is running solid according to Wasko, with over 500,000 young cattle in the U.S. and over 60,000 in Canada, which are good numbers and are comparative to the same week in 2019.

Steer carcass weights in the U.S. are approximately the same as last year, at about 23 pounds above one year ago. Canadian steer weights are sneaking up — 938 pounds for a steer weight two weeks ago, and 942 pounds last week, so about 11 pounds above last year at this time. Wasko considers this something to watch in the data. It could be due to cattle being on feed for quite a while, and this might just be the end of the backlog from the onset of the pandemic.

Cutout value has been creeping higher, which is a good sign in the demand side of things, and is seasonal, Wasko says. Around Thanksgiving in the U.S. and closer to the end of the year is when there could be more movement, but not as much as last fall.

The feeder and calf markets continue to be solid, numbers wise. Feed grain prices are creeping up and the Canadian dollar has been a bit bullish ahead of the U.S. election could create some negative impact on the calf market. Wasko expects some volatility due to these “outside noises.”

Wasko is hoping for good news when the August trade data is released soon, and to hear some bullish news in the exports.

Catch the full conversation below, or download the podcast to listen in on Wasko and RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney:

(If you want to catch up on previous episodes of Beef Market Update, you can access them here.)

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