Compared to last week, the entire feeder cattle industry experienced the full effect of the bullish events from the Thursday before Good Friday. All weights of feeder and stocker cattle traded 3.00-10.00 higher with pee-wee steer calves weighing under 450 lbs as much as 15.00 higher. The only markets that were not sharply higher this week, were the late-week Thursday and Friday auction markets that received the jolt before Easter.
The corn stocks information turned out to be instigator of the turnaround with old crop nearby CBOT contracts now roughly 1.00 lower than before last Thursday’s report to near 6.30/bu. New crop corn contracts lost less than half as much ground but still sit around 1.00 under May contracts which sounds a whole lot better to cattle feeders than the 7.00/bu range they have been feeding for months.
Drastic improvements in the weather across the country also did its part in adding demand to the feeder market, especially on stocker cattle that are in suitable condition for immediate turn-out and compensatory gain on greening pastures. At the OKC-West Livestock Market in El Reno, OK a load of thin fleshed steers weighing 570 lbs brought 182.25 while another pot load weighing 634 lbs sold for 164.00. Much of the Southern Plains received more beneficial moisture this past week but many major grazing areas (including the Flint Hills of Kansas) are still reeling from drought and will need significant runoff for drinking water before cattle can be turned out. However, “grass fever” is in full swing following the warm up and the confidence boosting market signals from late last week with most major salebarns noticing new buyer numbers as local backgrounders entered the mix.
As frustrating as cattle feeding can be with expensive overhead and constant ration adjustments to fluctuations in feedstuff prices, grazing can be just as satisfying. No cattle grazer can deny the enjoyment of releasing a set of stockers onto a fresh pasture as they are torn between their desires to explore their new home or put their heads down to partake in some sweet green grass. There’s no doubt that bovines were placed on this earth to graze and the inexpensive growth and gains backgrounders can receive on pasture are what motivates them to seemingly assemble their stockers earlier each year. Fed cattle sold fully steady with last week’s highs from 128.00-129.00 and the market has again found itself at the all-time record high resistance point of 130.00. This week’s reported auction volume included 61 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.