The average price of fresh beef in grocery stores was a record $6.079 per pound during March. That was up 6.2 cents from the previous record set the month before.
Retail prices for choice beef averaged $6.282 per pound during March. That was up 1.2 cents from February, up 56.2 cents compared to March 2014, but 5.1 cents below the record set in January. Ground beef prices averaged $4.20 per pound in March, down 3.8 cents from the month before.
The 5 area average price for slaughter steers was $162.40/cwt during March. That was $2.50 higher than February and $12.60 higher than a year ago.
The consumer price index for March was below year-ago for the third consecutive month, thanks largely to lower energy prices. The cost of living peaked in June of 2014.
Fed cattle prices this week were lower on light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $162.71/cwt, down 42 cents from last week's average, but up $15.63 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $255.96/cwt, down $8.05 for the week, but up $21.41 compared to the same week last year.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $257.69/cwt, up 53 cents from the previous Friday and up $31.59 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $251.45/cwt this morning, up 40 cents from last week and up $36.37 from a year ago.
Cattle slaughter this week totaled 533,000 head, up 6.2% from the week before, but down 5.7% from the same week last year. Year-to-date cattle slaughter is down 7.5% and beef production is down 5.4%.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 28 was 869 pounds, down 5 pounds from the week before, but up 18 pounds compared to the same week last year. Steer weights have been above year-ago each week since June 14, 2014.
Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were mostly steady to $5 lower this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $307-$320, 450-500# $296-$315, 500-550# $268-$297.50, 550-600# $263-$286, 600-650# $240-$260, 650-700# $226-$252, 700-750# $214-$248, 750-800# $208-$224, 800-900# $192-$211, and 900-1000#, $187.50-$193/cwt.
Cattle futures gained ground early in the week but closed sharply lower on Friday. The April live cattle futures contract settled at $157.80/cwt today, down $1.00 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $149.00/cwt, up 20 cents from the previous week. August fed cattle gained 12 cents this week to settle at $146.67/cwt. October live cattle ended the week at $148.25/cwt.
The April feeder cattle contract ended the week at $213.00/cwt, up 55 cents for the week. May feeders settled at $208.52/cwt which is $1.20 lower than the week before.