Feeder cattle and calf markets enjoy a summer-long winning streak that has prices bumping against historic highs. With late-season rains across much of cattle country and the promise of a bumper corn crop, buyer demand seems to increase daily.
Yearling feeder cattle sold steady to $3 per hundredweight higher, the 11th consecutive week of price gains. Calf buyers were called the most aggressive in last week’s market, with prices unevenly $2 to $10 higher. Market watchers found the best demand on crossbred steers and bulls weighing under 450 pounds in the Southeastern markets, which saw instances of up to $15 higher.
“Order buyers across the South are once again routinely bidding pee-wee male calves under 350 pounds up and over $2 per pound,” says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. “Most would agree that the late-summer calf market highs have not yet been fully realized, while yearling sales continue to defy gravity at high altitudes, with some areas taking out all-time highs.”
The markets reacted to news last week that Tyson Foods will stop buying cattle fed zilpaterol, a beta-agonist feed additive. Futures prices spiked higher late in the week following the announcement as traders anticipate a reduction in beef production as a result of Tyson’s action.
“New crop feedcosts continue to entice cattle feeders,” Wall says, “but no weight gains are cheaper than unexpected late-summer pasture that has become available throughout the south-central and southeastern regions of the United States. Flooding has ravaged the Four-State Area near where Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma come together with some areas reporting 10 inches of rain overnight, and up to 15 inches over two days this week.”
Last week’s auction receipts totaled 140,100, compared to 137,000 the previous week and 141,800 last year. Direct trade totaled 43,800 with video/Internet at 221,500 for a total of 405,400, compared to 265,500 last year.
After a week-long standoff, fed cattle prices pushed $2 higher in the Southern Plains with sales at $121 per hundredweight. Cattle in the North traded at $123 live, and $197 dressed, which was $2 to $3 per hundredweight higher.
Boxed beef prices traded $1 to $2 higher compared to the previous week, with Choice boxed beef up $1.78 from last Friday at $188.99. Select boxed beef traded $1.10 higher at $182. The Choice-Select spread widened to $6.99.
Slaughter cows and bulls sold steady to $1 higher. USDA’s cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday was $160.79, up $0.58 from last Friday.