Sort & Cull

Two Weeks in a Row of Cash Cattle Sales Exceeding 90,000 Head

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
Even though traders are unwilling to confidently trade the cattle futures, some positive fundamentals are beginning to surface. (DTN file photo by Joel Reichenberger)

Last week the cattle complex traded nervously, continuing to fear any news regarding avian influenza, even though USDA was able to confirm that the 30 samples of ground beef they tested for the virus all came back negative. And unfortunately, the doggish uncertain nature we've seen lately from traders trickled into Monday, and ultimately led both live and feeder cattle futures to a lower close. But through the technical downturn seen last week, there have been some positive developments in market fundamentals which are worth discussing.

First, it would be remiss of me not to make note of the fact that last week's negotiated cash cattle trade totaled 92,693 head. Of that, 63% (58,165 head) were committed to the nearby delivery, while the remaining 37% (34,528 head) were committed to the deferred delivery. Whenever the market can trade close to 100,000 head in the cash sector it's a win for feedlots -- but it's important to note that this is the second week in a row where the market's cash cattle trade has been more than 90,000 head and cash cattle prices have trended higher. This leads to the second and third points -- beef demand and slaughter speeds.

From the end of April to Memorial Day beef demand is usually the greatest. But thus far in 2024 demand has been sluggish in terms of both price and movement. But it was encouraging to see last week's movement of cuts, grinds and trim totaled 661 loads and we could begin to see prices improve at any point in time. And realistically, it's likely packers are running more aggressive processing speeds as they anticipate beef demand to gain more traction in the upcoming weeks. Throughout all last week's trade, choice cuts averaged $294.51 (down $2.12 from the previous week) and select cuts averaged $288.77 (down $1.91 from the previous week). The week's total slaughter is estimated at 619,000 head, which is 6,000 head more than the previous week and just 1,000 head less than the same week a year ago.

The cattle complex has endured strenuous pressure over the last six weeks and it seems as though traders are immune to recognizing anything positive in the cattle sector. But that doesn't mean we should dismiss the market's improving fundamentals.

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .