Compared to last week, feeder cattle sold 1.00-4.00 higher with thinner- fleshed stockers suitable for grass selling up to 8.00 higher near the major grazing regions.
New crop calves were not quite as active this week and prices were unevenly steady, especially across the lower tier of the Southeast markets which could mean grass buyers don’t think they have enough time to get these calves straightened-out by their turn-out date.
Direct markets were very active this past week and posted the full advance on feeder cattle, despite CME cattle futures being under pressure early in the week. Corporate feeders are pushing the market in the country as competition in the auctions heats up and salebarn receipts are starting to dry-up.
Record-high price levels continue to be posted daily and each time rationale draws a line in the sand, cash prices in an auction setting cut a trench right through it. First it was 5 weight calves bringing 2.00/lb, then it was 6 weight calves yielding 2.00/lb, now this week there were several Midwestern sales that pushed and surpassed 2.00/lb for 700 lb steers. At the Bassett, NE, Livestock Auction two loads of fancy 750 lb backgrounded steers brought 200.00 (lighter 7 weights were up to 208.00), 4 loads of similar steers averaging 814 lbs brought 194.25, and 2 big loads of fancy 920 lb yearling steers dropped the gavel at 177.50. The sky is officially now the limit and what’s next, 800 lb steers at 2.00/lb? Many market watchers feel there is still some fuel left in these rockets with available supplies of feeders seasonally tightening and ample on-farm feed storage.
Spring has finally arrived across many areas of the US, and with it came severe weather and high winds. Farther north, snow still prevails but moisture in any form is badly needed this time of year and will be beneficial to farmland and pastures over the next several weeks. However, feeder and stocker cattle demand should slacken when grazers either fully stock their pastures or run out of money and corn planting will be underway as soon as the weather allows with most farmers finishing up anhydrous application. Pressure came late in the week as most Lean Hog futures closed down the limit on Friday and pulled cattle futures down with them.
Fed cattle trade finally broke loose late Friday with dressed sales 4.00-5.00 lower in the Northern areas from 239.00-240.00 and a few early live sales at 150.00. This week’s reported auction volume included 51 percent over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.