The choice beef cutout has spiked in the past few days, partly due to significant disruptions at feedlots brought about by recent extreme winter weather. The supply of cattle with more than 120 days on feed on Dec. 1 already was the lowest inventory of market-ready cattle on that date since 2018, estimated to be 76,000 head smaller than the previous year, analysts at the Daily Livestsock Report said in an analysis published today.
"Add to this the stress of winter weather and availability suddenly plummets," the analysts wrote. Extreme cold negatively impacts cattle in feedlots as livestock burns more energy to stay alive.
The recent storm significantly affected the movement of cattle from feedlots to processing plants, plants’ ability to bring workers in, and the movement of beef from processing plants from the middle of the country to metropolitan areas, the DLR said. Fed cattle slaughter was 15% lower for the week of Dec. 19 than two weeks prior.
But with supply needed for the meat case and to run further processing plants, the rib primal value on Tuesday was $548/cwt, the highest for the year, at a time when prices of bone-in and boneless ribeyes typically decline, after Christmas orders have been filled.
"Why are people paying that kind of price? Because they are short and when you need to fill orders in a market where supply is thin you end up paying whatever it takes to outbid the other guy," the analysts said. "So here we are with likely less supply of market-ready cattle for January in feedlots, more weather stressed cattle and more beef booked for delivery. Spot buyers/traders woke up to this reality during the Christmas week storms and may feel the effects of tight supplies well into January."
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