Compared to last week, feeder and stocker cattle sold 1.00-6.00 higher (mostly 3.00-5.00 higher) with many auction markets that were closed during Memorial Day quoted a full 10.00 higher than two weeks ago. The best demand varied as to where the sales occurred with the full advance of the market noted on lightweight calves in the southern regions and on yearling feeders in the Northern Plains. Outdoor warning sirens were heard whaling across Nebraska this week to signify severe weather, like the storms that hit the Omaha area with baseball-sized hail. But, cornhusker cattlemen farther west assumed the horns were blowing to alert rural producers that 800 lb steers broke the 200.00 mark at the local salebarn. At the Ogallala, NE Livestock Market on Thursday, over 350 head of top quality steers quoted in the 800-850 lb group averaged 811 lbs at 208.14. Top billing went to a load of one-iron home-raised black yearling steers off short grass weighing 803 lbs at 211.50, but it’s perhaps more surprising that they sold to a corporate feeder. However, there is no truth to the rumor that Ogallala was also auctioning off twenty-dollar bills for twenty-five.
It hasn’t been too long ago that 2.00/lb sounded strange on pee-wee steers and bulls weighing under 400 lbs. In late January, we saw top sales of 6 weight steers break two bucks and then in early April we saw the dollar doubled-up on extreme sales of 700 lb steers. Now, 2.00 has been broken for 800 lb steers and will likely become the benchmark asking price for grass yearlings coming off summer and fall pastures throughout the country. CME Feeder Cattle futures continue to ride drag on the cash market, but are closing-in with all summer and fall contracts ending the week north of 200.00 (based on a 750 lb steer). Heavy rains fell across the Midwest this past week and, although some flooding was reported, the rain was much needed and sent CBOT corn futures to briefly dip below 4.50/bu.
The stars continue to line-up for a lasting record-high feeder cattle market with sound fundamental supply and demand data supporting the surge. Farther down the line, strong Asian beef demand is helping support the price of dressed product and fed cattle. This past week, finished steers and heifers sold 1.00-2.00 higher from 145.00-146.00 live and 232.00-233.00 in the beef. This week’s reported auction volume included 46 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.