Prices for thin-fleshed stocker cattle drove market prices $1 to $3 higher last week. Demand was strongest for full-framed cattle that are ready to turn spring grass into rapid gains. Demand was weakest for heavier and fleshier cattle weighing over 800 pounds that are best suited for feedyard finishing.
Buyers report that thin grazing cattle are harder to find this year due to feed and hay that is less expensive than last year and a relatively mild winter that produced good gains.
Despite a spring-fever rally for grazing cattle, heavier yearling cattle are finding reluctant bidders. Feedyard losses have been heavy for nearly two years, and the expected spring rally for fed cattle has yet to materialize.
Feeder steers weighing 700 to 800 pounds sold at auction in a range of $89 to $94 per hundredweight last week, with the bulk of cattle at $90 to $91. Steer calves weighing 450 to 500 pounds sold in a range of $111 to $118 per hundredweight, with the bulk of cattle in the $112 to $115 range. Cash fed-cattle prices were reported at $82 on moderate to active volumes.