Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold very uneven as prices on yearlings traded unevenly steady; early in the week mostly steady to 5.00 lower then firming up mid-week trading steady 5.00 higher. The calf market remains very uneven and volatile with the month of October showing some pressure this week on new arrivals of new crop bawlers which is typical of autumn as market pressure was noted this week on those unweaned calves in which supplies always outweighs demand at this time of year. There were instances on lightweight calves under 450 lbs that sold 10.00-15.00 lower as prices for these lightweight calves have been very lofty.
Calves weighing 450-650 lbs all traded with very wide price ranges and trends across the trading areas from unevenly steady to 5.00 higher to 5.00 lower. Also of note at several auctions, a lighter presence of farmer feeders due to harvest getting back into full swing this week. USDA reported slower harvest pace than normal with 31 percent of the corn harvested with the 5 year average of 53 percent. Soybeans are also behind with 53 percent harvested with the 5 year average at 66 percent. Unweaned bawlers will continue to be scrutinized with additional discounts for being fleshy or having a snotty nose as health issues will always be a concern.
Most cattle growers would love to fill their orders with calves weaned at least 45 days and an extensive precondition program, but many calves are coming to the auction right off the cow and in many cases with little use of knives or needles. Wheat pasture prospects look very bright across much of the Hard Red Winter Wheat regions as demand for stockers remain very good with Corn Belt cattlemen having lots of silage, hay and corn. In Bassett, NE on Wednesday the replacement heifer offering was in very good shape as a near pot load of fancy replacement heifers weighing 555 lbs sold at 372.00 or 2064.00 per head.
In Philip, SD on Tuesday over 1200 head of 500-550 lb steers averaging 531 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 309.68. Last week’s fully steady fat cattle trade was a big positive with the meltdown that occurred in the Stock Market and swept through many of the commodity markets as economic situations have calmed down in the short term. On Thursday afternoon fat cattle trade busted loose in a big way as live prices again hit record highs in the Southern Plains and Nebraska with live prices 5.00-6.00 higher at 170.00.
Packers needed inventory to secure needs proving that Supply and Demand still has a valid presence. The next question is where do boxed beef prices go from here, leaving plenty of questions for traders to ponder as live and feeder cattle futures on Friday closed with triple digit losses. Traders seemed more concerned with Friday’s afternoon Cattle on Feed Report that ended up being right in line with industry guesses. The report would be viewed as neutral as October 1 inventory was reported at 99.5 percent of a year ago; placements at 101.0 percent of a year ago; marketings at 99.5 percent of a year ago. This week’s auction volume included 37 percent over 600 lbs and 37 percent heifers.