Compared to two weeks ago, feeder and stocker cattle prices ended the holiday interrupted trading session from steady to 5.00 higher, mostly 8.00-10.00 higher on those 800-900 lbs.  However, there was significant volatility throughout the two week stint with many yearling specials posting new lofty all-time record highs but sharply lower CME futures pressuring the cash market late this last week. 

August contracts have lost over 7.00 since the 4th of July with the only bright spot being the fact that Friday’s session rebounded to near unchanged after trading near limit losses for most of the day. 

There’s no doubt that recent pressure on the Board is more than just minor profit taking and many analysts are blaming the drop on technical negativity.  Somebody must have forgotten to tell the charts just how short cattle numbers are or that we are facing one of the best corn crops in recent memory and the largest in history.

Spot corn price from the CBOT is now below 4.00/bu and the cash corn price in Omaha is 3.65/bu. Cash feeder markets remain very strong (especially on heavy yearlings) with renewed interest from farmer-feeders who travel Corn Belt blacktops that seem more like trails through the Redwood Forest. 

Many of these independent feeders hope to reach profit through the added value of all-natural beef products with Bassett, NE selling two loads of 800 lb drug free yearling steers at 240.00.  Superior Video’s Week in the Rockies featured 260 head of all-natural Buffalo, SD steers to weigh 1050 lb in October at 205.50. 

The key to the all-natural premium on feeders is for the heavier yearlings, as drug free calves are no big deal and rarely yield an advantage despite the extra is the hard part and most producers don’t segregate treated calves from the rest of the herd.

Lightweight calves received top billing in the Southern Plains with light 3-weight steer calves at the Winter Livestock Auction in Dodge City, KS averaging 323 lbs at 357.40.  Many of us suspected that we were nearing the top of this feeder cattle market, but it’s still unclear whether this was a peak or a plateau that we’ve been climbing.

Fed cattle drifted lower this past week, after setting a new record prior to the holiday, just short of 160.00.  Fats sold 2.00-3.00 lower on a live basis from 155.00-156.00 and 1.00-4.00 lower in the beef from 246.00-249.00.  This week’s reported auction volume included 50 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.