Friday's cattle on feed report said the number on feed at the start of June was 10.736 million head, up 1,000 head from the month before but down 3.1% compared to a year ago. The report was a bit bearish as placements were higher than pre-release trade estimates and marketings were lower.

Choice retail beef prices averaged $5.241 per pound in grocery stores during May. That was down 2.3 cents from April, but up 27.6 from May 2012. All fresh beef averaged $4.877 per pound in May. The record for retail beef prices was set in March 2013 at $5.30 per pound.

The 5 area average price for slaughter steers in May was $127.50/cwt. That tied the record set the month before and was up $6.40 from May 2012.

As of June 16, 64% of corn acres were rated in good or excellent condition. That is up 1 percentage point from the week before and also up 1 point from a year ago. 23% of U.S. pastures were rated in poor or very poor condition on June 16, down from 28% poor or very poor a year ago.

Fed cattle prices were lower this week on good volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $121.37/cwt, down $2.84 from last week, but up $3.57 from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $193.57/cwt this week, down 74 cents from a week ago, but up $5.70 from a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $199.54/cwt, down 61 cents from the previous Friday, but up $2.64 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is at $186.41/cwt, up $2.86 for the week. The choice-select price spread dropped $3.46 this week to $13.14/cwt.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 659,000 head, up 2.3% from last week and up 0.8% from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on June 8 was 853 pounds, up 3 pounds from the week before and up 5 pounds from a year ago. The last time steer weights were below the year-earlier level was the week ending January 7, 2012. Year-to-date cattle slaughter is down 1.5%, but year-to-date beef production is down only 1.0%.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices this week were steady to $3 higher with prices for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $170, 450-500# $168-$175.50, 500-550# $159.50-$170, 550-600# $150.25-$166.50, 600-650# $140.50-$153, 650-700# $137.50-$146, 700-750# $133-$142, 750-800# $134-$141.35, 800-900# $130-$139, and 900-1000# $120-$127/cwt.

The June live cattle futures contract closed at $121.25/cwt today, up $2.25 from last week's close. The August fed cattle contract gained $3.28 from last Friday to settle at $121.60/cwt. October fed cattle futures settled at $125.12/cwt and December at $127.10/cwt. August feeder cattle futures settled at $146.92/cwt, up $3.52 for the week. The September contract gained $2.93 from last Friday to close at $149.93/cwt.

Source: Ron Plain and Scott Brown