Compared to last week, yearling feeder cattle and calves sold mostly steady to 2.00 higher starting out early in the week at the larger auctions in Oklahoma City, Joplin and West Plains, Mo., with some mid to late week sales unevenly steady to 2.00 lower. With direct trade steady to 4.00 lower with most declines coming later in the week. Live and feeder cattle contracts saw triple digit losses on the CME this week which pressured the markets, but overall feeder cattle prices held up very well through the auctions as liquidation selling on the board took place as the availability and continued belief of a limited supply calves and yearling feeders will be tight in the weeks and months to come going through the auctions.
The Southeastern calf markets were very uneven as sales ranged from steady to 3.00 lower to 3.00 higher. Fed cattle sold mostly 2.00 lower this week at 115.00-116.00 with dressed sales also mostly 2.00 lower in the Northern Plains trading at mostly 185.00, with a few sales at 186.00. Decent basis strength created by lower futures sparked selling interest on Tuesday of this week. Triple digit losses on Tuesday on live and feeder cattle futures and limit down lean hogs had traders concerned about meat demand worries going forward and with soaring gas prices nearing a 4.00 gallon national average. This does have the potential to be a demand killer. Boxed beef also this week has fallen below 180.00 for Choice product as beef cutouts are showing signs this week of diminished values closing sharply lower at 177.15 on Choice product on Friday afternoon.
There is one thing that sure could help this market and that is sunshine and warm weather across the mid-west to the east coast that could get the barbecue grills out. This part of the country has experienced a very late spring as wet and cool weather has so far dominated this late spring as seeing people still wearing coats everyday one would think it’s still March in this part of the country. This year’s late Easter has more than likely delayed consumer’s spring meat purchases and normal spring demand increases.
Corn planting is well behind throughout the Corn-Belt as corn plantings this week are estimated at 13 percent complete, well below the 5 year average of 35 percent and well behind last year’s pace of 68 percent complete. Some warm weather and soakin’ up some sunshine would benefit everyone involved, and help get the corn that is planted up and growing. One thing to note, last year we had a lot of corn planted early but still failed to meet trend line yields, so weather going forward is still very important.
Even with this week’s declining future prices and boxed beef values most cattle buyers still want good weaned calves and yearlings as they do not want to be short bought if prices return later in the summer and fall. Weekly U.S. beef export sales for the week ending April 28th came in at 17,200 metric tonnes, compared to the prior 4-week average of 16,500 tonnes. The McCook, NE Livestock Auction sold near 400 yearling steers weighing between 870-895 lbs which averaged 126.49 which remains at price levels reminiscent of the past couple weeks. This week’s reported auction volume included 51 percent over 600 lbs and 46 percent heifers.