Feeder cattle review: Yearling feeders a hot commodity

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Compared to last week’s sharply higher market, yearling feeder demand continued unwaveringly with prices ranging from firm to 7.00 higher and the full advance noted in the Northern Plains and upper Midwest.  Southern Plains yearling markets were unevenly steady to 4.00 higher with some auctions (like the Oklahoma National Stockyards) actually posting a slightly lower trend compared to the blistering pace established the week before on much lighter receipts.  Farther north, feeder cattle sold from 3.00-7.00 higher with increased competition from independent farmer feeders. 

Steer and heifer calves across the country traded 1.00-4.00 higher as the improved prices are starting to pull a few more new-crops out of the bushes along with the few mid-summer yearlings that are left unsold.  This week yearling buyers turned more toward the thinner-fleshed 600-800 lb old crops to take advantage of more days on feed with a new crop corn ration, as opposed to the last several weeks of buying up the heaviest feeders on offer.  However, Northern feedlots still like the performance of 800-1000 lb green yearlings during the fall months as most still plan on growing these cattle another 500-700 lbs – since nobody loads 1250 lb fat cattle on river-market bound rail cars anymore. 

At Nebraska auctions in Bassett and Valentine this week nearly 1300 head of top quality 900-950 lb steers averaged 918 lbs at 147.48, not to mention numerous sales of 7 weight steers well into the 160.00’s and 6 weights deep into the 170.00’s.  Sandhill yearlings are even more scarce than those coming off the Flint Hills or Osage as mother cows still inhabit and rule supreme in the Cornhusker state which is now the Number 2 beef cow state behind the much larger Texas. 

Perhaps a more impressive sale, logistically, took place at the Bluegrass facility in Stanford, KY where a pot load of 619 lb heifers brought 150.95.  Even though feeder cattle supplies are tight, marketing has been heavy the last several weeks with huge video and direct sales along with on-site salebarns holding their own. 

Friday’s cattle-on-feed report was neutral to slightly friendly to the cattle market with July 1st inventories very close to estimates at 97 percent of a year ago.  June placements were also well forecasted at 95 percent of the same time in 2012, but finished marketings were slightly higher than expected at 96 percent.  Corn Belt skies have turned mostly hot and dry, but this past week saw unseasonably cool and wet conditions throughout the Southern Plains with some flooding reporting in parts of dry ranch country, like Clarendon, TX.  Fed cattle sold mostly steady at 119.00 live and 193.00 in the beef.  This week’s reported auction volume included 60 percent over 600 lbs and 41 percent heifers.



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