The majority of cattle markets traded lower last week, driven by sharply lower boxed beef prices and soft retail demand. The continuing saga of lean, fine-textured beef (LFTB), commonly referred to in the media as “pink slime,” reduced demand for the product and resulted in the temporary closure of three plants and the loss of 650 jobs.
Cash fed cattle traded mostly $1 per hundredweight lower for the week, with dressed sales in Nebraska $1 to $2 lower. Northern feedyards sold cattle at $126 to $127 per hundredweight, and $200 to $202 dressed. Southern feedyards sold at $125 to $125.50 per hundredweight.
Boxed beef cutout values fell sharply lower for the week. Choice boxed beef traded Friday at $183.37 per hundredweight, a decline of $4.04 from the previous Friday. The Select price on Friday was $182.40, a decline of $4.17 from last week. The Choice-Select spread was $0.97, compared to $0.84 last Friday.
Stocker and feeder cattle traded steady to $4 per hundredweight higher across the nation, with weakness noted on heavy yearlings over 850 pounds that were called steady to $3 lower. Demand for light grazing cattle remains strong, and bids on those cattle were $4 to $8 higher.
Last week’s auction receipts totaled 196,400, compared to 208,200 the previous week and 218,500 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 27,600, with video/Internet sales at 55,500. The weekly total was 279,500, compared to 345,300, a year ago.
Slaughter cows sold steady to as much as $5 higher, mostly on extremely tight supplies. Cattle futures lost $3 for the week, and have now recorded weekly losses for four consecutive weeks.
USDA released quarterly grain stocks report for March 1, which came in below expectations for corn and wheat but soybean stocks were close to expectations. Last week also saw the Prospective Plantings report which suggests farmers will plant 225.7 million acres to corn, soybeans and wheat this year. That would represent an increase of 4.4 million acres over last year. Intended corn plantings were estimated at 95.9 million acres, up 3.9 million from last year. Soybean acreage was called 73.9 million acres, down 1.1 million from last year.