Compared to last week, yearling feeders traded unevenly steady to weak fluctuating 3.00 either side of steady, with several auctions quoting the best demand for heavier yearlings over 800 lbs.
Steer and heifer calves traded mostly steady to 3.00 lower with several auctions simply not having enough calves to test the market. Feeder cattle buyers for the most part seem to be hesitant and cautious to chase feeders much higher. We may be looking at fewer cattle down the road but demand remains the key. Feeder cattle are bought with the design of making money, but too many times we buy them with the idea that down the line the prices will get better, which is good in theory but hasn’t really been working with high feed costs and fat cattle prices continuing to struggle. But with that said, in Valentine, Nebraska on Thursday had over 4500 head of feeder cattle with 218 head of NHTC steers averaging 624 lbs that sold for a weighted average price of 171.14 and 182 head of their bigger brothers weighing 678 lbs selling for 170.00.
Cash cattle trade on Wednesday was a 1.00 lower at 124.00 in Texas and Kansas. Sharp losses developed in the live and feeder cattle futures on Wednesday and continued into Thursday as corn prices had sharp gains on Wednesday and closed with modest gains on Thursday. One bright spot continues to be Choice Box Beef prices which again this week hit all-time highs on Monday topping 210.00 and on Thursday morning at 211.35 which was on light movement but still refusing to cool its heels before Memorial Day Weekend.
This week the latest cold storage report was issued and indicated that there was plenty of beef, pork and poultry in cold storage a little over 2 billion lbs. This is almost 5.5 percent higher than a year ago and a little over 8 percent larger than the five year average. The beef inventory for the end of April was 510.0 million lbs, which was 1.5 percent lower than a year ago but near 18 percent higher than the five year average.
The domestic market will need to digest a good portion of these large inventory numbers, so here’s hoping the grilling season gets off to a good start this Memorial Weekend. On Monday of this week USDA’s Crop Progress Report reported that 71 percent of the US corn crop was planted as of May 19, 2013. Farmers outdid themselves planting corn at a record pace last week planting 43 percent of the entire corn crop in one week thanks to a window of opportunity given by Mother Nature and large planting equipment tied the record set in 1992 for highest percentage planted in one week.
With corn planting back on track, rains fell across major portions of the Corn Belt limiting planting this week with 29 percent of the crop left to be planted. We wish everyone a safe Memorial Day Weekend and want to say “Thank You” to our service men and women past and present for their service to our country and the price that has been paid for our freedom and the freedom of millions throughout the world. This week’s reported auction volume included 60 percent over 600 lbs and 44 percent heifers.