Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold steady to 4.00 higher - mostly 2.00-4.00 higher on load lots of yearlings and popular weights of calves. Offerings continue to seasonally tail-off, but receipts did improve a bit this week as weekend rains across much of the Midwest offered producers the opportunity to take a break from fieldwork and hay production to market cattle.
Buyers knew this was an opportunity to fill orders and bidding became aggressive, especially on yearling feeders. Availability over the next couple months will be scant in the livestock auctions with most cattle turned out on grass until the mid-to-late summer yearlings come off double-stocked pastures. Cattle producers and backgrounders are hoping the early summer lull in supplies will spark the CME Feeder Cattle board and out-front demand for feeding cattle, as a large percentage of the late summer and fall delivery feeders will be priced during June private treaty and/or video sales. Any input cost relief for the cattle feeder would also strengthen the already stout market for feedlot replacements.
Just as this week’s trade activity hinted that the demand for yearlings could far outweigh the supply, the unprecedented size of this year’s corn crop could more than solve our fear of limited stockpiles and send prices tumbling. Thursday’s USDA Supply and Demand report forecasted this year’s corn crop to be fully 20 percent larger than last year, with 5.1 million more acres planted (a 6.1 percent increase) and nearly a 20 bu/acre increase in expected yield (12.8 percent more than 2011).
Besides plowing up pastures and fencerows, many farmers decided to go corn-to-corn in their favorite fields rather than alternating crops. However, soybeans may still be well represented after the early maturation of this year’s wheat crop allows many areas to double-up. Keeping with this year’s trend of everything being two weeks early, hay balers are rolling-up windrows well ahead of schedule and many producers will stack it on top of last year’s pile that was barely dented over the mild winter.
The lack of bitter cold also has finished cattle coming in heavier, with all-time record high carcass weights for this time of year. Fed cattle trade was slow to develop with Northern feedlots selling slightly lower late Friday from 192.00-194.00 dressed and Southern feeders continued to pass 119.00 bids, while the onset of Memorial Day weekend buying has yet to spark cut-out values. However, a lack of beef interest was not evident from a crowd of niche New England cattle feeders at the Vermont Beef Producers 21st annual spring feeder cattle auction in Essex Junction, Vermont last Saturday. Though receipts were regionally light, a cumulative load of co-mingled yearling steers and heifers averaged 739 lbs at 159.87. This week’s reported auction volume included 54 percent over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.