Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers ended the week mostly steady after opening the trading session steady to 4.00 higher. Stocker cattle and calves sold firm to 5.00 higher with renewed grazing interests after recent rains in the central portions of the US.
Russia’s midweek decision to ban all food imports from the United States, stemming from the sanctions imposed over the crisis in the Ukraine, sent CME cattle futures limit-down on Thursday and Friday. Nevermind that Russia has purchased little or no beef from the United States since 2012 and they rank as our 23rd best food customer. Some pressure could be lent from the fact that they will be importing less competing proteins, but more likely the situation offered a good excuse for speculators and trending investors to sell-off a top-heavy commodity. The extent of the blow has not yet been felt in the cash feeder market with most sales taking place early in the week and direct trading shut off late in the week. Needless to say, pressure will be felt in the Monday auction markets but as current as producers are in their marketing, receipts are sure to be light next week. Didn’t we know that it would be something that has nothing to do with cattle that would trip this runaway market. Buyers and sellers alike will probably wait until the futures find a stopping (or at least slowing down) place before they conduct much business. Things were still pretty optimistic in Mitchell, SD on Thursday with a big load of thin-fleshed 900 lb steers bringing 224.00 or 2016.00 per head.
Wednesday the St. Joseph, MO Stockyards sold a half load of gaunt (empty cut-in-two) 814 lb steers that lit-up the scoreboard at 236.25. Calf buyers were also aggressive with adequate moisture in many areas and abundant hay meadows to clean-up after harvest and before wheat pasture arrives. Bull haulers have been a premium in Kansas with droves of Flint Hill cattle moving off double-stocked pastures the last few weeks and into feedlots.
Other major grazing areas will see a steady flow of yearling feeders moving from now through October. There’s as much as a 50.00 price spread on these cattle depending on when they sold them and some early contractors showed up at the scale-house with an empty feeling in their gut, just waiting to see how much they left on the table. Feedlots have lost 5.00-6.00 in the last two weeks with this week’s showlists trading at 160.00. Is the 166.00 record price a level that we will remember for a longtime to come? This week’s reported auction volume included 45 percent over 600 lbs and 38 percent heifers.