Compared to last week, calves and yearlings sold steady to 3.00 higher with many instances of up to 6.00 higher on calves – especially in and around Oklahoma where sporadic moisture has winter wheat sowing in high gear and hopes for wheat pasture fairly bright.  Cash feeder cattle prices have made slow steady advances ever since the first week of August when the fed cattle market saw an abrupt turnaround.  Since then, modest rains have been realized in many of the hardest hit drought areas and buyers of every class of cattle have become more intent on making sure their cupboards aren’t empty, should record prices come around again. 

It’s hard to recall just how steep the dog-day drop in feeder markets was, but prices have now had a full six weeks of recovery time and the record levels of March are still a far cry away.  Calf prices are a good 20.00-30.00 below mid-March 2012 and yearlings are 5.00-10.00 behind, although the Northern Plains are closing-in quickly.  This past Thursday in Mitchell, South Dakota, nearly 500 head of top quality 9 weight steers averaged 938 lbs at 141.06; at the same time Ogallala, Nebraska saw active bidding on over 400 head of fancy pee-wee steer calves weighing from 300-450 lbs which averaged 370 lbs at 213.11.  But, perhaps the best demand is for lighter weight yearlings or longtime weaned calves weighing from 600-800 lbs that will hit feedlot showlists in line with the April CME Live Cattle board. 

The old St. Joseph, Missouri Stockyards had a short load of 760 lb thin yearling steers that dropped the gavel at 159.25 or 1210.00 per head on Wednesday.  Grain prices were sharply lower this week with corn losing around 30 cents and soybeans down over 1.40/bushel, with harvest of the drought-stricken crop in full swing and yields slightly better than many farmers had feared.  Meanwhile, cattle nutritionists have crunched ration ratios in an effort to balance diets with something besides golden kernels and the industry may learn a lot about many different feedstuffs. 

Friday’s cattle-on-feed report quoted August placements at 89 percent of the same time a year ago which was below expectations but quite explicable with nationwide auction receipts accordingly only 81.5 percent of 2011.  September 1st on feed inventories came in slightly below guesses at 99 percent, while August marketings fell well short of forecasts at only 95 percent.  However, feedlot operators are reportedly current and wanting to stay that way on declining numbers and high feedcosts.  Fed cattle sold steady to 1.00 lower at 126.00 on the hoof and 195.00 in the beef.  This week’s reported auction volume included 46 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.