Feeder cattle review: Calf buyers bid aggressively

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Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers sold steady to 3.00 higher as yearling markets continue their summer-long rally.  Calf buyers were the most aggressive this past week with prices unevenly 2.00-10.00 higher and the best demand noted for crossbred steers and bulls weighing under 450 lbs in the Southeastern markets, which saw instances up to 15.00 higher. 

Order buyers across the South are once again routinely bidding pee-wee male calves under 350 lbs up and over 2.00/lb.  Most would agree that the late-summer calf market highs have not yet been fully realized while yearling sales continue to defy gravity at high altitudes, with some areas taking out all-time highs. 

At the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Kearney, NE over 600 head of top quality 900-950 lb steers averaged 926 lbs at 152.23.  Burwell, NE Livestock Market’s BBQ Special hosted a string of 911 lb spayed heifers at 145.60.  CME Live Cattle contract gains late in the week added fuel to the fire, on word that packers are starting to shy away from certain beta-agonist feed additives.  These products have been proven to significantly increase weight gains late in the feeding period and dramatically improve dressing percentages.  Any reduction in their use could decrease net beef tonnage in the face of declining headcounts. 

New crop feedcosts continue to entice cattle feeders but no weight gains are cheaper than unexpected late-summer pasture that has become available throughout the south-central and southeastern regions of the United States.  Flooding has ravaged the Four-State Area near where Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma come together with some areas reporting 10 inches of rain overnight and up to 15 inches over two days this week.  Meanwhile, wildfires continue to rage out west with no relief in sight. 

Extreme southern cornfields are starting to be harvested with impressive yields expected to be reality long before combines start rolling in the Corn Belt.  However, recent widespread rains probably helped the soybeans much more than the corn.  The standoff between packer buyers and cash fed cattle sellers was more heated than normal this week as feedlots hoped to take advantage of the speculator driven CME gains. 

We are now well within the spot delivery month for Live Cattle contracts and the longest longs are starting to get notices.  Early direct fed sales started to break out late Friday at 121.00 in the Southern Plains which was 2.00 higher and 197.00 dressed in Nebraska, which was 2.00-3.00 higher.  This week’s reported auction volume included 54 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.



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