National feeder cattle: Calf prices weaker

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Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers ended the week unevenly steady after opening the trading session on a continued higher note and then turning lower by mid-week. Calf prices were weak to 4.00 lower across most major trading areas with the Southeastern markets suffering the full extent of the losses with fewer orders coming-in from the western states. 

Tuesday’s sharply lower futures market was the catalyst for lower cash feeders this week as investment funds were suddenly pulled from Chicago’s Live Cattle pit. Yearling buyers immediately lowered their bids in an effort to keep their purchases within ear-shot of a fully hedged position.  An easing of corn prices the last couple of weeks have aided their hedging challenges, but Friday’s limit gains on CBOT corn contracts pushed prices back on top of 7.50/bushel.  The Boards had little to do with lower calf markets, as fall weather patterns were more to blame. 

Typical hot days and cool nights are taking their toll on newly purchased un-weaned calves and sick-pens are starting to swell.  Backgrounders want to take a break before taking-on additional shipments and many who farm their own wheat ground need some tractor time to sow this fall’s pasture. 

A widespread moisture-packing cool front moved across much of the Southern Plains this week, allowing wheat producers to plant previously parched crop ground from eastern New Mexico to eastern Kansas.  This moisture will undoubtedly improve the demand for stocker calves later this fall, but wheat pastures need a little time and warm sunny days to sprout.  Northern Plains markets resisted much of the market pressure on both calves and yearlings this week as temperatures have been milder and farmer-feeders are wrapping up this year’s disappointing harvest.  However, supplemental feed is more plentiful in the Midwest and cattle growers are anxious to acquire their fall purchases as most believe offerings will much tighter this fall than normal. 

The United Producers Market in Maryville, MO celebrated their 25th Anniversary this Tuesday by selling over 500 head in the 800-900 lb top quality steer section with an average of 861 lbs at 145.05.  Fed cattle prices were mostly 3.00 lower on a live basis at 123.00, while dressed sales lost 4.00-5.00 from 190.00-191.00.  This week’s reported auction volume included 39 percent over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.   



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