The grim reaper is about to put an end to 2017, but it appears he skipped over the year-end fed cattle market. Typically, the cash market for fed cattle takes a Christmas vacation and prices trend lower. But 2017 has been a surprise all year long; there’s no reason it should end any differently. After losing ground last week, the cash market rebounded for the week ending Dec. 16, adding several dollars to the bottom line.

As has been the case all year, the number of fed cattle going to town is higher than the prior year. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 93,870 head for the week, compared with about 84,731 head the previous week. The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 188,386 head, compared with about 188,457 the previous week. 

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 630,000 head, compared with 606,000 head the same week last year, 24,000 head over last year. The year-to-date total now is more than 1.5 million head higher than last year. 

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 50,000 head, compared with about 56,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 206,000 head of forward contracts available for December and 223,000 head in January.

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $119.71 per cwt, compared with $117.46 the previous week, for a jump of $2.25 per cwt. The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $188.92, compared with $187.06 the previous week, which was $1.86 higher.

The Five Area average formula price was $190.95, compared with $191.55 the previous week.  

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Dec. 2 was 903 pounds, 1 pound lower compared with 913 pounds the same week last year.

The Choice-Select spread was $18.62 on Friday, compared with $19.62 the previous week and $13.54 last year.