Feds, Feeders Lower As Beef Soars


By Greg Henderson, Drovers   

May 3, 2021


Cattle feeders lack of market leverage was on full display last week. Despite consumers and retailers craving beef and paying top dollar to get more, live cattle prices slid into May at $1 to $2 lower, with cash prices in the South $118 to $119. Cattle traded in the North at $118 to $120 live, and $190 to $191 dressed.


Packers have been playing hard ball for weeks, with many feeders claiming bids are increasingly hard to find. Beef is in high demand, but there are apparently plenty of cattle looking for shackle space and packers have little problem filling their immediate needs.


The spread between cash cattle and wholesale beef continued widening to historic levels. Monday’s USDA Choice boxed beef price was $298.41 per cwt., up $1.91 from Friday and up $12 per cwt. from a week ago and nearly $20 from two weeks ago.


Last week’s cattle slaughter was estimated at 649,000 head compared to 438,614 head last year. Total year to date slaughter was 10.954 million head, 3.5% higher than last year.


Feeder steers and heifers sold $1 to $5 lower...