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Fed Cattle Prices Reach New Record Highs
USAgNet - 12/06/2011

Fed cattle prices rose for the third consecutive week, breaking the record highs set in early November. According to University of Missouri Economist Ron Plain, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday of last week on a live weight basis was $127.90/cwt, up $3.00 from last week, up $2.51 from the record set in early November, and $25.28/cwt above this week last year. Steers sold on a dressed weight basis averaged $203.32/cwt, $3.35 higher than the week before and also a new record.

These record cattle prices occurred despite a drop in cutout value. On Friday morning, the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $191.71/cwt, down $4.46 from last week. The select carcass cutout was down $3.62 from the previous Friday to $173.46 per hundred pounds of carcass weight. The choice-select spread, $18.25, was down 84 cents from a week earlier, but 66% higher than a year ago. The cutout value of choice steers is $11.61/cwt below the dressed weight cattle price. This will not last long.

The cattle slaughter totaled 666,000 head, up 17.9% from the week before, which was low because of Thanksgiving, but down 2.2% compared to the same week last year. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending November 19 was 852 pounds, the same as the week before, and up 1 pound from a year ago.

Cash bids for feeder cattle around the country this week were mostly $1 to $10 higher than the week before. Prices this week at Oklahoma City were steady to $12 higher with price ranges for medium and large frame steers.

The December live cattle futures contracted ended the week at $121.90, up 80 cents from the previous Friday.

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