Compared to last week, all classes of feeder cattle and calves sold 1.00-4.00 higher in active trading as most industry members wrapped up business in preparation for next week’s July 4th marketing break.  There were no signs of market pressure from the previous week’s slightly bearish cattle-on-feed report evident in this week’s cash trade. 

The first full-week of summer did not disappoint with temperatures heating up across the nation and yearling feeder markets fairly hot as prices typically find their high for the year within the next several weeks.  The Bassett, NE Livestock Auction held their Annual BBQ Special with a fancy load of 730 lb steers selling for 157.00, and another load of thin-fleshed steers weighing 720 lbs dropping the gavel at 161.00.  Nearly 1100 head of top quality yearling steers ranging from 900-1000 lbs sold with an average price just over 141.50. 

Summer yearling supplies are coming-up short this year as hay supplies were too light and feedcosts were too high for many backgrounders to grow spring-born calves this past winter.  Feed prospects look to be much the contrast this year as hay harvest in many areas is the best in recent memory and most of the corn crop is a thick and deep-dark green that old-timer’s say makes for high yields. 

Friday’s USDA crop report lowered existing domestic corn stockpiles to just 2.76 billion bushels, but planted acres came-in higher than expected (despite late-planting fears) at 97.4 million acres which is the highest in the US since 1936 when we planted 102 million acres mostly by mule.  Some Midwestern farmers are now contracting a portion of their expected new crop at right around 5.00/bu which is a far cry from the nearly 8.00/bu that Omaha cash prices topped out at late last fall. 

Northern Livestock Video out of Billings, MT on Monday sold a load of 740 lb steer calves right of the cow and lush mountain range at 156.25 for early October delivery.  Dry conditions persist in most other portions of the West but firework fears won’t keep folks awake east of the I-35 corridor as high humidity and moisture could make fuses hard to light.  The Joplin Regional Stockyards shot off their displays before Independence Day with a Special Wean-Vac Value Added Sale on Thursday with an active market and long-weaned health programmed calves selling at a 6.00-12.00 premium to Monday’s regular auction with the full advance noted on 550-650 lb calves. 

Fed cattle sold mostly steady this week from 120.00-121.00 while slaughter cows traded 3.00-7.00 higher as buyers prepare for most auctions to be shut-down next week.  All of us here at USDA Market News wish all of you a safe and happy 4th of July celebration.  This week’s reported auction volume included 55 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.