Standoff in cash cattle as beef prices slip, feeders higher

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Packer buyers and feedyards were engaged in a standoff all last week, with feeders asking $4 to $5 per hundredweight more than packer bids. A light trade occurred late Friday in the south at $120 per hundredweight, steady money compared to the previous week. Northern feeders sold a few cattle on a dressed basis mostly at $193 to $194 per hundredweight and $121 to $122 live.

Packers are believed to be short-bought ahead of the coming Memorial Day weekend, and feeders will try to leverage those ideas into higher prices this week.

Boxed beef cutout values finished the week down from the previous week. Choice boxed beef traded Friday at $189.10 per hundredweight, down $1.19 from the previous Friday. The Select price on Friday was $183.05 per hundredweight, a decline of $3.06 from the previous week. The Choice-Select spread was $6.05 per hundredweight, compared to $4.18 the previous week.

Feeder cattle prices were steady to $4 higher at auction last week, and calves found bids $2 to $4 higher. Offerings of stocker and feeder cattle continue to slow seasonally.

USDA Market News Reporter Corbitt Wall said the availability of feeder cattle “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.”

Wall also noted that corn prices may be headed in a favorable direction for cattlemen. “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 bushel per acre increase in expected yield (12.8 percent more than 2011).”

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 175,000 compared to 168,400 the previous week and 197,100 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 62,000 with video/Internet sales at 32,400. The weekly total was 269,400, compared to 219,400 last year.

Slaughter cows sold steady to $2 higher as demand for lean trimming beef increased. Corn prices were 7 cents per bushel lower for the week.



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