Heavy feeder cattle prices march on, however traders are speculating how much longer the streak can continue. Feeder prices have moved higher for 13 consecutive weeks and a correction may be in order. For the week ending August 23, feeder cattle and calves sold steady to $4 higher.
The number of cattle heading to feedlots continues to decline with improving pasture conditions and producers holding onto heifers to rebuild herds. While lower inventories benefit the feeder market, Reuters reports pressure arrived Friday with lower live cattle futures and higher corn prices.
Trading in the cattle market was higher across the board as USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall said action was just as busy on heavy 8 weight feeders as it was for calves under 500 pounds. However, buyers in some sectors of the market aren’t as enthusiastic.
“Yearling buyers seemed much more price conscious than calf bidders and there was plenty of speculation in the air this week that the rocket that has been propelling heavy feeder prices is starting to run out of boost,” Wall said.
As feeders and packers take advantage of the last weeks of grilling season as dressed beef values have made steady gains this month, the August heat wave will impact feed supplies, especially soybean yields, if rain doesn’t arrive soon.
Last week’s auction receipts totaled 160,000, compared to 156,800 the previous week and 175,400 last year. Direct trade totaled 53,600 with video/Internet drastically higher at 62,000, for a total of 275,600, compared to 278,100 last year. Video/Internet saw more activity last week with 55,400 more than the previous week.
Cash trade was expected to remain at least steady as packers continue to see profitable margins. Cash prices remained steady between $123 and $124 per hundredweight. Dressed prices took a step back with sales coming in above $197 per hundredweight.
Boxed beef prices couldn’t match the previous week’s jump higher last week. Boxed beef prices moved opposite directions as Choice boxed beef increased by $1.29 last week to $196.19. Select boxed beef prices fell lower, losing $2.30 to settle at $184.09. The Choice-Select spread widened by $4.09 to $12.10.
Slaughter cows and bulls sold unevenly steady. The USDA’s cutter cow cut-out value Friday morning was up $5.65 over the previous Friday with prices averaging $167.88.