Carcass Weights Add 16,000 to Kill

11/17/2012 7:00 AM

The feeling among analysts late last week was that packers might get cattle bought at lower prices than the week before but only if they drastically cut Friday’s steer and heifer slaughter.

Carcass weights continue their seasonal decline after peaking in October at record levels in October. But they remain well above last year’s levels, which partially offsets the reduced slaughter levels compared with last year.

Overall weights for the week ending Oct. 27 averaged 796 pounds. This was down 6 pounds from the record of three weeks earlier but still 16 pounds above levels a year earlier. That’s the equivalent of adding 16,000 head to that week’s kill.

Steers averaged 876 pounds (compared with the record of 880 pounds two weeks earlier) and were 17 pounds above last year.

Heifers averaged 806 pounds (compared with the record of 807 pounds three weeks earlier) and were 18 pounds above a year ago.

Cutout values in recent weeks have held up due to the strength in middle meat prices and some end cuts. But most are now peaking or in decline.

Choice tenderloin prices might have another week or so of strength but will then start to decline, analysts say. Choice rib prices might already have peaked while Choice strip loins and short loins are getting weaker.

Choice chuck rolls have crashed from their elevated levels. They priced at $232.90 per hundredweight on Thursday last week, versus $320 two weeks earlier.

Perhaps the most surprising action in wholesale beef prices last week was a surge in the price of fatty trimmings (50CL). They averaged $66.49 per hundredweight the week before but averaged $74.55 the first four days of last week.

They looked set to put in their highest weekly average since the first week of May. All the grinds are holding up well in both price and volume, which reflects the extensive ground beef features that retailers are planning, analysts say.

Pennsylvania Center for Beef Excellence Inc. with information from the CME Report, Cattle Buyers Weekly and other resources. For more information call 717-705-1689.

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