Yearling feeders are in short supply, turning interest towards calves selling steadily at higher values than the previous week.

Calves in high demand with limited yearling numbersWhile interest in tight supplies of heifers and yearlings remains, calves were moving in large volumes last week at prices of up to five dollars higher than the previous week.

USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says the Fall Run is upon us with heavy supplies of spring-born cattle weighing from 400 pounds all the way up to 800 pounds.

Herd rebuilding is becoming a reality thanks to positive factors in the cattle industry. Corn fell to a three-year low last week and hay supplies and winter pastures are near pre-drought levels. High cattle prices and low feed costs have producers in a bidding war for any heifer on the market.

According to Wall, “At the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Kearney, NE on Wednesday a load of F-1 (Angus-Hereford cross) replacement quality heifers weighing 626 pounds brought $189 straight off their own mommas and without any pre-condition or calf-hood vaccination shots.” He notes the price gap between unweaned, unworked calves and their peers is growing by the week.

This week’s reported auction volume included only 37 percent over 600 pounds and 39 percent heifers.

Consumers seem to be willing to pay the increasingly higher prices for beef, which is good news for packers trying to escape negative margins. Fed cattle prices remained steady with the previous week at $132. Improving boxed beef prices should show better packer profit margins in this week’s Sterling Profit Tracker.

Auction receipts totaled 307,800 last week, with an additional 26,400 from direct sales and 22,500 in video/Internet sales for a total of 356,700. Last week auction numbers were 12,600 lower than the previous week, but 42,600 more than a year earlier. Last week’s total was below the 383,000 from the previous week, but higher than the total of 307,600 from a year earlier.

The Choice/Select spread narrowed by 82 cents from the previous Friday to $14.75. Boxed beef prices on Friday averaged $196.96. Choice cuts sold for $204.60, while Select cuts sold at $189.14.

Slaughter cattle trading was unevenly steady in both the South Plains and Midwest direct markets. Slaughter cattle numbers totaled 35,400, down dramatically from the 126,175 a week earlier.

USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was 156.72.