Most classes of cattle found softer bids last week as continued dry weather is rapidly deteriorating pasture and range conditions across a wide swath of cattle country. Cattle feeders also found a steep decline for market-ready cattle as southern feedyards traded at $119 per hundredweight, $3 lower than the previous week. Cattle on a dressed basis in the north sold $4 to $5 per hundredweight lower at $190 to $191 per hundredweight.

Boxed beef cutout values were stronger last week, with Choice at $198 per hundredweight, up $1.06 from the previous week. Select boxed beef traded at $181.11, down $1.60 from the previous week. The Choice-Select spread widened to $16.89, up $2.60 from the previous week.

Yearling feeder cattle were called steady to $1 higher, with the slight gains found in Southern Plains direct sales. Steer and heifer calves were called $3 per hundredweight lower, with light cattle weighing under 450 pounds finding bids as much as $10 per hundredweight lower.

USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall noted the dry weather is having an impact on the cattle market.

“Out-front sales of grass yearlings are still trading slightly higher than current delivery loads, but the premium is quickly narrowing and if it doesn’t start raining in the Corn Belt these markets could invert,” he said. “Reportedly, a good portion of the late summer and early fall feeders are still in firm hands and these backgrounders plan on squeezing until the turnip is dry.”

USDA’s pasture and range conditions report called just 5 percent of those pastures rated as “excellent,” and 36 percent rated “good.” That’s down from 6 percent “excellent” and 40 percent “good” the previous week. USDA called 27 percent of pastures “poor” or “very poor,” an increase from 22 percent earning that rating just a week ago.

Wall indicated last week’s supply and demand report “kept corn crop estimates status-quo for the time being and lower feedcosts are still the cattle market’s best chance to spread its wings once again.  Nebraska and Iowa farmer-feeders were noticeably more reserved in their feedlot replacement buying this week, but enthusiastic bidding may only be a few more inches of rain away and could culminate at upcoming at summer grass yearling auction specials.”

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 164,800, compared to 206,200 the previous week and 178,300 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 54,400 with video/Internet sales at 8,800. The weekly total was 228,000, compared to 239,100 last year.

Slaughter cows and bulls were called $2 to $4 per hundredweight lower as supplies increased. Cash corn prices increased 13 cents per bushel during the week, with Omaha closing at $6.42 per bushel on Friday.