Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calf markets were not fully tested due to Independence Day closings. However, several mid-to-late week auctions in the Plains and the Midwest sold yearlings 3.00-7.00 higher and calves firm to 5.00 higher. The first week of July is traditionally a time for feeder cattle marketing to take a break, but with the 4th falling on a Monday this year trading was more active than usual. Also, in a typical year auction owners are looking for a good reason to close with hot temperatures and dog-day-doldrums plaguing the marketplace. But this is no ordinary year!
Producers and backgrounders were aching to sell feeder cattle this week to take advantage of this spiking market that has totally regained the losses incurred since late March when all-time record high feeder cattle prices were posted. In fact, this week (albeit on lighter holiday receipts) records were broken once again - including the CME Feeder Cattle Index value on Wednesday of 136.34 which eclipsed the previous moving average record on April 8th of 136.14.
Yearling specials in the upper Midwest heavily influenced the Index gains as high-volume auctions farther south were closed on Monday and south Texas routinely joined the entire Southeast in shutting-down for the entire week. Green City, MO sold 5700 head at record prices on Wednesday with about 50 straight load-lots included; Valentine, NE had 560 head of top quality steers weighing between 800-900 lbs that averaged 141.26, while over 875 head of bigger brothers weighed from 900-1000 lbs with a mean just over 137.50. Record price levels and aggressive buyers also resulted in active country and video/internet trading. Recently, several regional salebarns have taken advantage of their connections and buyers bases to expand into video/internet marketing for customers that want to market their cattle from the ranch or contract them for future delivery.
The Joplin Stockyards Video and Cattle Country Video (managed by Torrington, WY Livestock Commission) are two examples with each selling near 24,000 head in that fashion this past week. Joplin touted cattle from 6 different states while Cattle Country included numerous strings of top quality mountain calves for fall delivery and an outstanding sale of two loads of 1000 lb steers at 132.00 to come right now. Feedlots wrangled an extra 2.00-2.50 out of the packers this week with live sales from 114.50-115.00 and the excitement of the cattle industry continues. This week’s reported auction volume included 67 percent over 600 lbs (with the mostly absent Southeast) and 42 percent heifers.