This spring’s roller coaster stocker and feeder markets were on display again last week as prices headed significantly lower, relinquishing most of the previous week’s gains. Stocker cattle and calves sold $4 to $8 per hundredweight lower while yearling feeder cattle traded weak to $5 lower as the corn market rebounded.

Higher grain prices, lower feeder cattle futures contracts and a struggling fed cattle market all contributed to the uneasiness in the stocker and feeder cattle markets. The market’s decline was swift.

“Sellers didn’t even have time to gather and haul their cattle (to market) before (the previous week’s) markets evaporated,” says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. “Feeder trends have been extremely volatile the last few weeks with sharp turns occurring during the middle of the weekly trading session. This past week, trends were slightly lower on Monday, with the bottom falling out in many Tuesday markets as yet another snowstorm moved across Colorado and western Kansas before tormenting much of Nebraska and the Dakotas.”

The snow forced a disruption at most mid-week South Dakota auctions. Nationwide auction receipts, however, remained relatively large.

“Lightweight offerings are now overwhelmingly made up of new crop fall-born calves which are not highly demanded by stocker buyers,” Wall says. “Also, cool weather this spring has stunted grass growth in many major grazing areas. The Kansas Flint Hills have now mostly received enough rain but very few pastures have been burned-off, and turn out dates are upon us with many leasing arrangements still hanging in limbo.”

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 228,500, compared to 216,700 the previous week and 166,400 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 57,500 with video/Internet sales at 59,000. The weekly total was 345,000, compared to 250,800 last year.

Cash fed cattle traded mostly $1 lower last week, with Southern feedlots trading at $127 per hundredweight and Nebraska at $127.50 to $128 and dressed sales at $202.

Boxed beef prices traded lower, with Choice boxed beef down $1.80 for the week to close Friday at $189.52. Select boxed beef was down $2.87 for the week to close at $184.14. The Choice-Select spread was $5.38.