Sort & Cull

Take Delight in the Wins

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
Keep working through the current difficulties. There are some signs of returning to normal, and we need to continue to work through the backlog of processing cattle. (DTN photo by ShayLe Stewart)

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday week, the market has shown some positivity despite bearishness in the cattle market. Slaughter continues to press ahead aggressively; there are stronger feeder cattle sales throughout the countryside and boxed beef levels are now back to pre-COVID-19 prices ranges. The market still has a long battle ahead, but cattlemen can celebrate these wins along the way.

Although a lot of last week's push was in efforts to hedge ahead of the shortened holiday week, last week's slaughter is estimated at 680,000 head -- up 3.7% from the previous week and up 1.5% from a year ago. The last time cattle slaughter exceeded 680,000 head was for the week ending March 28, 2020, when slaughter totaled 684,835. In order to work through the massive backlog of cattle that has affected the industry, processing at this level is going to need to be a necessity.

Efficient and effective slaughter speeds are phenomenal news, but last week's feeder cattle prices were nothing short of spectacular, given the uncertainty amid COVID-19. Northern Livestock Video Auction and Superior Livestock called their sales far better than assumed and easily $6 to $12 stronger than anticipated. Thursday happened to be a day of stronger trade for futures, which strengthened buyer morale and the cheap price of corn sold them on the idea of buying more calves.

Northern's Sale Report:…

Superior's Sale Report:…

Last, but certainly not least, heading into a big-grilling weekend, boxed beef prices are back to normal levels. Last week choice cuts averaged $2.10 (down $10.15 from the previous week) and select cuts averaged $2.01 (down $7.05). Not only is it positive to see levels back to a price range where consumer can buy and enjoy the product, but it's also extremely encouraging to see the sheer volume of beef moving -- last week alone moved a substantial 899 loads.

There's no arguing that the industry is up against an uphill battle with the backlog of cattle and weakening cash cattle prices, but as the industry works to get through the storm, positive wins are had along the way.

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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