Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold unevenly steady with the majority of sales ranging from 3.00 higher to 3.00 lower. Most pressure was seen on heavyweight feeders over 800 lbs and soft new-crop calves that are progressively making up a larger percentage of receipts. As a whole, offerings are currently less attractive than usual with receipts mostly made up of growing-lot yearlings and fall-born calves, both carrying considerable flesh.
True grass-ready stocker cattle (where available) still brought top billing, but these cattle are getting harder to find with every passing day and are rarely plentiful enough to test the market. Perhaps feeder markets have reached the point of topping or even tipping as the word “lower” reared its ugly heady on market reports across the country for the first time in months.
Nationwide auction receipts were 17 percent lighter than a year ago as available supplies are exhausting right in accordance with most buyer needs being met. However, it would be difficult to call demand any lighter and crowds were reportedly sizeable in the few major auction markets that had a good run this week. One of these was Torrington, WY, where a package of little 288 lb steer calves brought 3.00/lb and a short load of 699 lb replacement quality heifers sold for 193.00 or about 1350.00 per head.
Spring weather has finally reached most corners of our nation and pastures are greening up nicely. Corn planters were rolling across southern edges of the Corn Belt with early-bird farmers gambling an early stand against the threat of rain-out and replanting. Fed cattle trade was very slow to develop this week with packers facing a short-bought position and lower cut-out values at the same time. But, many major population areas are finally looking forward to a weekend with favorable grilling conditions which should support dressed beef values. This week’s reported auction volume included 51 percent over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.