Feeder cattle review: Feeders move higher with less volatility

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Compared to last week’s closing market, feeder cattle sold steady to 2.00 higher with much less volatility than in recent weeks.  Stocker cattle and calves traded mostly steady to 3.00 higher with many areas of the Southeast as much as 10.00 higher in instances, especially on lightweights under 500 lbs. 

Many early-week auction markets reported trends even higher than this, but they were merely catching-up with last week’s sharp gains experienced after Tuesday.  Demand continued good to start this week’s trading session with favorable weather conditions promoting pasture growth and Corn Belt farmers getting started on this year’s late corn planting.  However, the early-week sunshine soon seemed like the shortest summer ever as yet another cold front moved across the country’s mid-section on Wednesday. 

Cold wind and rain fell south of Interstate 70 while the Northern Plains received snow and blizzard conditions on the first day of May with measurements up to and surpassing one foot deep.  The onset of the storm’s approach did not hamper feeder cattle demand as much as the recent spring storms as backgrounders and feeders have found that recovery is fairly quick this time of year.  Plus, auction receipts are dwindling at a fast pace and buyers realize they need to fill orders now while there are still cattle available. 

For the balance of the spring, many producers will be concentrated on getting their corn and soybeans in the ground while most available supplies of calves and yearlings will be turned-out on grass until the Summer Yearling Specials. The winter of 2012-2013 will simply not give up with snowplows needed to clear baseball fields and temperatures keeping folks from enjoying their typical spring activities. 

Backyard grilling is one right of spring that is lacking and beef movement continues sluggish, however the Choice boxed beef cut-out value is near an all-time record high over 200.00.  Fed cattle trading broke an all-time record with Northern Plains live sales reported in Nebraska on Wednesday from 130.00-131.00 which surpassed the previous record of 130.50 reported in March of 2012.  Southern Plains sales were from 128.00- 129.00 with both regions trending steady to 1.00 higher, but the benchmark break was bitter-sweet as most pens are still posting losses. 

Some packers were reportedly caught short-bought as they prepare for what they hope will be a banner Memorial Weekend to unofficially start the summer.  This week’s reported auction volume included 60 percent over 600 lbs and 44 percent heifers.



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