Cash fed cattle prices traded mostly steady last week as the push to fill the retail pipeline ahead of the Labor Day weekend came to a close. Cattle traded at $120 to $121 per hundredweight in both the north and the south, with prices on a dressed basis in the north $2 to $3 lower at $187 to $188 per hundredweight.
Supplies of market-ready cattle will continue to tighten moving forward strengthening the leverage of cattle feeders. Packer margins are expected to narrow over the next couple of months.
Boxed beef values slipped slightly last week following a two-week rally that added $8 to $9 to prices. Choice boxed beef traded at $193.03 per hundredweight on Friday, down 89 cents from the previous week. Select boxed beef was at $183.53 per hundredweight, a decline of $1.19. The Choice-Select spread was $8.61 per hundredweight.
Feeder cattle sold steady to $1 lower on the week, with calf prices called uneven. Unweaned calves weighing 450 to 650 pounds were called steady to weak. Pee-wee calves under 450 pounds, however, sold $5 to $8 higher.
USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall said those light calves “continue to gain admirers who are looking at dollars per head and the nearly endless options that these lightweights bring. Featherweight calves are once again topping $2 per pound at sale barns across the country, while price levels grow even loftier on private treaty or video sales if buyers don’t have to take delivery until later in the year.”
Wall cited a string of 400 calves sired by black Waygu bulls weighing 440 pounds that sold last Monday on the Northern Livestock Video for December delivery that fetched $2.24 per pound.
“Many feeder markets noted pressure on weights over 800 pounds while lighter-weight yearlings experienced mild gains. Normally, lighter yearlings experience more demand as feedlots anticipate cheapening the cattle while on feed, but this time buyers want lighter feeders simply because they finish at a later date,” Wall said.
Last week’s auction receipts totaled 175,400 compared to 159,700 last week and 201,200 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 59,000 with video/Internet sales at 43,700. The weekly total was 278,100, compared to 449,900 last year.
Slaughter cows sold $1 to $5 per hundredweight lower and slaughter bulls sold weak to $3 lower. Markets in Oklahoma had cows $2 to $4 higher and slaughter bulls $4 to $6 higher. USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $168.33, up $2.14 from the previous Friday. Omaha cash corn was 15 cents per bushel higher for the week at $8.22 per bushel.