The cash market for fed cattle seemed to steam along for the week ending March 3, but with the throttle pulled back just a notch. Yet, while the market certainly wasn’t pouring the coal to the engine, the volume of cattle harvested should keep the market on the rails, at least for the immediate future. Looking ahead, however, the question is where will the coal come from as we move into more fed cattle numbers later on?    

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 209,397 head, compared with about 211,131 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 89,488 head, compared with about 92,517 head the previous week.                                                   

Most of the cash sales are for 1-14 day delivery but the national cash sales this week include over 7,500 head of 15-30 day delivery, compared with about 6,000 head the previous week. 

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 608,000 head, compared with 586,000 head the same week last year. The current year to date total is about 132,000 head higher than last year.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 41,000 head, compared with about 45,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 183,000 head of forward contracts in March, then over 255,000 head for April. 

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $126.76 per cwt, compared with $127.95 the previous week, which was $1.19 lower. The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $204.21, compared with $204.69 the previous week, 48 cents lower.

The weighted average formula price for the Five Area region was $205.63, compared with $203.30 the previous week, making it $2.33 higher.

The Five Area region includes the major feeding states of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, an area that includes at least 80% of the total national fed cattle sales each week. 

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Feb. 17 was 881 pounds, 8 pounds lower than the week prior and even with the same week last year.                  

The Choice-Select spread was $7.88 on Friday, compared with $5.55 the previous week and $4.02 last year.