Sort & Cull

With Packers Extremely Short Bought, Cash Prices Could Go Higher

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
Cash cattle prices could be higher this week as packers are going into the week short bought and in desperate need of cattle. (DTN ProphetX chart by ShayLe Stewart).

Like many of you, I was meticulously watching last week's cash cattle trade play (when it happened). Most of the time, you'll find me holding my breath, hoping the week's total volume of negotiated cash sales is large, with the best weeks seemingly right at or near 100,000 head traded.

Last week wasn't the norm though. As the market's sporadic sales were being reported, I was holding my breath, hoping feedlots would hold onto their showlists and resist selling cattle to packers all together.

Feedlots sit in a much different position today than they do in most years. Typically, we expect a glut of cattle to hit showlists during this time of year. Consequently, we expect cash cattle prices to trail lower through the hot summer months. However, with feedlots extremely current and their showlists still somewhat green, they possess the ability to hold cattle over and market them later.

When packers come back to work Wednesday (after the Fourth of July holiday), they're going to need cattle in a bad way. Last week's negotiated cash cattle trade only totaled 53,487 head, which is the lightest weekly negotiated cash cattle trade that 2023 has yet to see. With beef demand as strong as it is, packers will likely begin to procure cattle early Wednesday morning and want/need to do so in an aggressive manner, which could drive prices higher if feedlots remain patient.

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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