The cash market for fed cattle seemed to tread water for the week ending March 10. However, to be clear, the cattle themselves were doing just the opposite, as many of the feedyards in the Five Area market region are dealing with pens that are far too dry. A peek at the latest drought monitor map shows the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma Panhandle and Southwest Kansas once again locked in a fierce drought.

The Five Area region includes the major feeding area from Texas (Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma) up through Kansas and Nebraska along with Colorado and Iowa (Iowa and Minnesota). These states normally account for at least 80% of the total national fed cattle sales each week. 

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 205,758 head, compared with about 209,397 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 124,928 head, compared with about 89,488 head the previous week.                                                    

Most of the cash sales are 1-14 day delivery but the national cash sales this week include over 19,100 head of 15-30 day delivery, compared with about 7,500 the previous week. A month ago it was only about 600 head per week.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 597,000 head, compared with 595,000 head the same week last year.  The current year to date total is about 137,000 head higher than last year.

Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvest was about 38,000 head, compared with about 41,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 184,000 head of forward contracts in March, then over 256,000 head for Apr. 

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $126.79 per cwt, compared with $126.76 the previous week, 3 cents higher. The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $203.88, compared with $204.21 the previous week, 33 cents lower.

The Five Area weighted average formula price was $203.40, compared with $205.63 the previous week, making it $2.23 lower.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Feb. 24 was 883 pounds, which was 2 pounds heavier than the week prior. That compares with 878 pounds the same week last year.                                                                      

The Choice-Select spread dropped a little and was $6.88 on Friday, compared with $7.88 the previous week and $8.84 last year.