High slaughter rate pushes US cattle lower

By Joanna Levin

CATTLE prices fell in the USA over the past week, with buyers taking advantage of the relatively strong slaughter rate to bid lower for beef.

The lightweight choice grade beef cut-out fell below 100¢/lb last week to close yesterday (1 June) at 99.4¢/lb. Cash prices for slaughter steers lost a cent to 63.2 ¢/lb.

Although the high slaughter rate is depressing beef prices, the industry still needs to keep up throughput to work through a backlog of fed cattle in the feedlots.

Some analysts report that the supply of fed cattle is at a record high for this time of year. The slaughter rate dropped to 622,000 head last week from 706,000 head the week before and packers need to kill an average 700,000 head over coming weeks if feedlots are to work through their inventory.

Feeder cattle posted a week of daily losses due to fundamental oversupply, negative margins in the feedlots, and technical selling by Chicago traders. Even the drop in maize prices failed to support the feeder cattle market.

The Chicago July feeder cattle contract lost more than 2¢ on the week to close yesterday at 74.1¢/lb, a new contract low.

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