Beef Market Update: Steer average carcass weights at year-high, despite packers keeping at steady rate

Many ranches across the prairies are getting into the weening season, which can mean only one thing — the weather is changing, and it’s changing rapidly.

The weather isn’t the only thing that has been cooling down though — December live cattle futures dropped significantly over the past week, as Anne Wasko, of the Gateway Livestock Exchange notes in the latest Beef Market Update.

“The U.S. cash market really struggled to fight that uphill battle, and although it started steady, the week closed off at a dollar lower at $108 live and $168 delivered dressed,” Wasko explains. “Some are saying ‘well look at the calendar, that’s maybe not all that unexpected for the middle of October,’ so we will go with that. There’s also certainly the pressure from the higher grain market that’s putting the pressure on the live and feeder cattle market.”

Currently, the sentiment from different feed yards across the board has been that it is very difficult to buy feeder cattle at any sort of a profit. But of course, it depends what side of the fence you are talking on. For those that have been selling calves in the last week, prices have been off about a dime, says Wasko. However, prices are going to continue to go forward as we head into the next few weeks, and really get into the full swing of fall run.

Packers are still killing at a steady rate, but there is some concerning data when you look at the carcass weights. Wasko says this is something that they’ve been watching ever since the supply challenges back in the second quarter of 2020.

“Weights jumped up, and then we kind of got them back under control when slaughter rates were able to pick right back up to a year ago levels,” she explains. “Even last week, our national cattle harvest here in Canada was up four per cent from a week a year ago. We’ve seen that data week after week going along, but average steer carcass weights last week — our most recent data — are coming up to the heaviest weight we’ve seen this year at 952 pounds. That’s 18 pounds over the same week we would’ve been a year ago.”

Check out the full Beef Market Update with RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney and Anne Wasko, below:

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