All classes of feeder cattle and calves sold $1 to $4 per hundredweight higher last week in an active trade. It was the third consecutive week of higher prices for heavy yearlings, a reflection of the dramatically shrinking number of those cattle.

Feeder cattle higher for third week, fed market soft“Summer yearling supplies are coming up short this year as hay supplies were too light and feed costs were too high for many backgrounders to grow spring-born calves this past winter,” says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall

Declining feed costs have supported feeder cattle prices, and demand may remain firm for replacements as feedyard showlists will be large the next few weeks and occupancy levels decline.

“Feed prospects look to be much the contrast this year. Hay harvest in many areas is the best in recent memory and most of the corn crop is a thick and deep-dark green that old-timers say makes for high yields,” Wall says. 

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 147,100 compared to 146,200 the previous week and 175,400 last year. Direct trade totaled 57,600 with video/Internet at 23,000, for a total of 227,700, compared to 444,300 last year.

Cash fed cattle traded in the South at $120 per hundredweight, and in the North at $120 to $121. Cattle sold on a dressed basis in the North at $194 to $195 per hundredweight. The market has been stuck in that price range for three consecutive weeks.

Boxed beef prices traded mixed compared to the previous week, with Choice boxed beef down $1.99 from last Friday at $197.38. Select boxed beef was up $1.40 for the week to close at $187.62. The Choice-Select spread narrowed to $9.76.

Slaughter cows sold $3 to $7 per hundredweight higher. Bulls sold steady to $1 higher. USDA’s cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday was $157.57, up $0.26 from last Friday.

USDA’s crop report on Friday pegged planted corn acres at 97.4 million, the highest acreage since 1936. Domestic stockpiles were estimated at 2.76 billion bushels. The news was seen as positive for livestock feeders.