The mid-summer demand for yearling feeder cattle remained steady to firm last week, with declines in corn futures only encouraging further optimism.

Calf markets jumped higher on active bidding. Prices ranged from $5 higher to instances of $10 per hundredweight higher. The 400 to 550-pound steers were the most popular targets of the higher bids.

“Recent rains throughout the Southern Plains have brought calf buyers into the market for late-summer and fall grazers,” says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. “This demand was fully realized in the Southeastern sale barn circuit as order buyers were armed with much better orders than they’ve packed all summer. Hopes of feed cost relief are starting to come to fruition with CBOT September corn contracts losing 50 cents per bushel just this week as impressive-looking crops in the Southern regions are already made and timely moisture across much of the Corn Belt promises a bountiful harvest.”

Wall noted many see the corn market “lining-up for the largest one-year price drop in history with Omaha daily cash bids down nearly $1 per bushel on Thursday from $6.73 to $5.76, compared to a year ago this week when it posted the record high of $8.25 per bushel.” 

Even with lower feed costs looming, cattle feeders are finding the competition for yearling cattle stiff. Wall reported last week’s Northern Livestock Video in Billings, MT, saw 400  head of 940-pound yearlings sell for $150 per hundredweight - $1,425 per head. That was topped by “two big loads of all-natural current delivery steers weighing 950 pounds at $151.50 ( $1,439 per head).”

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 136,500 compared to 168,500 the previous week and 119,400 last year. Direct trade totaled 98,900 with video/Internet at 66,300 for a total of 339.100, compared to 286,100 last year.

Fed cattle bids were steady in the South at $119, and $1 higher in the North at $120 to $121. Dressed prices in the North were $2 higher at $193 to $195.

Boxed beef prices traded $2 lower compared to the previous week, with Choice boxed beef down $2.07 from last Friday at $187.15. Select boxed beef traded $1.46 lower at $182.71. The Choice-Select spread narrowed to $4.44.

Slaughter cows sold $1 to $3 higher, and slaughter bulls sold steady to firm. USDA’s cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday was $160.11, up $0.02 from last Friday.