Compared to last week, light receipts of yearling feeder cattle sold steady to 3.00 higher while spotty offerings of calves traded unevenly steady.  Reports from across the country noted that offerings were on the plainer side, yet prices still mostly trended in a positive direction which could lend extra support for the market. 

 Salebarns north of Interstate-70 have almost completely gone to an abbreviated schedule of having maybe one or two sales per month.  Further south, the auctions are still held every week, but receipts are progressively becoming lighter and the number of cattle that would satisfy Northern orders have become scarce.  For the year, nationwide feeder cattle auction receipts are running 5.6 percent lighter than 2011 and 9.2 percent lighter than the 5 year average.  As offerings shrink, the demand for yearling feeders has started to percolate, with most market watchers expecting prices to overflow just as temperatures get the hottest (July and August). 

Thursday in Valentine, NE a lone load of 8 weight steers forecasted this summer’s fortune by averaging 806 lbs at 162.25.  The very next day, cattle producers ran through the streets screaming Extra! Extra! with their hot-off-the-press copy of this month’s cattle-on-feed report.  Finally, after 23 straight months of year over year increases, the on-feed inventory was less than the previous year.  May 1st totals were 99.4 percent of 2011 and nearly a full percentage point lower than the already scaled-back average guess of the industry’s top analysts. 

Placements and marketings were even more bullish, with 14.8 percent fewer cattle placed on feed during April and 100.4 percent marketed through the month.  Both of these data were much friendlier to the feeder cattle market than the experts could crunch and the wild bull that this report has released from the chute is carrying a little more than a touch-of-ear and has a colorful hair-coat (much like many of the load-lot yearlings on offer at this week’s high-volume salebarns across the Southern Plains and lower Midwest). 

 Friday’s cattle-on-feed report also broke the standoff in the fed cattle arena with live sales immediately coming in 3.00 higher than last week at 123.00 in the Kansas.  However, many feedlots continued to refuse bids and wanted to take advantage of the situation to gain some extra market position. 

Cattlemen have gotten their proof that feeder cattle supplies have indeed lightened at the same rate as the well-advertised breeding herd.  Now, they need beef consumption to be impressive over the Memorial Day weekend holiday to set the cattle and beef market back on a record pace.  This week’s reported auction volume included 53 percent over 600 lbs and 44 percent heifers.