Northern feedlots sold inventory early in the week last week at lower money in an effort to capture some attractive basis levels. Early trade Tuesday and Wednesday came in Colorado at $81-82.50 live basis, 50 cents to $1 lower than the previous week.
Sales of fed cattle got off to an early start last week after a midweek slide in futures markets offered incentives for feedlots to sell cattle before additional declines hit the market. Cattle were trading in light numbers in Texas at $85 live basis and at $134 dressed in the Corn Belt on Thursday.
Most fed cattle trade appeared to be set for a Friday event last week as the New Year holiday interrupted the weeks business. There were a few cattle sold in Nebraska at $135 dressed, although the numbers were not enough to call the weeks trend.
Retail grocers are heading into January with a lot of unanswered questions relating to consumer demand for all products, and for meat, in particular. Now that the holidays and the spending that traditionally accompanies them are over, consumers will be faced with the reality of an economy in recession, analysts said.
For the first time in 30 years, Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand annual sales reached 634 million pounds. In fiscal 2008, 15,000 CAB licensees in 46 countries achieved an 8.8 percent increase, or 51 million pounds more than 2007 sales. Despite a challenging economy, the brand saw six of its historical top 10 sales months in the past year.
Cash fed cattle trade started last week off light, but as the holiday break approached and packers began offering $135 on a dressed basis, trading picked up rapidly. Selling interest for the dressed deals significantly outstripped that of the live cattle, as the few deals done in the south early last week hovered in the $84-85 range.
USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service issued the final cattle on feed report of 2008, Dec. 19, and it held some early Christmas surprises for the industry. Total numbers of cattle on feed remain well below year-earlier levels. Total cattle on feed numbers stood at 11.
The Sept. 1 Cattle on Feed report showed an overall decline in the number of cattle on feed. According to USDAs National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), cattle on feed in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 10 million head, down 3 percent from the same date last year and 9 percent below Sept.
Cash cattle trade at midweek showed good numbers of cattle trading hands in the southern Plains at prices mostly steady to slightly lower than the previous week. Trade came at $98-99 in Kansas, Colorado and Texas, however, most trade in the north and Corn Belt region was at a standstill as of mid-day last Thursday.
Live cattle trade was slow to start last week as packers ratchet down harvest levels in an effort to regain positive margins going into year end. For the week, market analysts were predicting steady to slightly lower trade in the $85-87 range for live cattle and $134-136 for dressed cattle.