Compared to last week, yearlings traded mostly firm to 5.00 higher, with instances 6.00-10.00 higher throughout the Midwest and Northern Plains. Weather has interrupted trading over the last couple of weeks mainly through the Southwest and Southeast as the movement of stocker cattle and calves has been hampered in these regions. Many markets quoted a sharply higher undertone on feeders, with instances 10.00-15.00 higher on calves in most cases compared to two weeks ago or compared with light receipts from a week ago; but definitely a sharply higher market.
It is currently prime time for the stocker market during the narrow window between the end of wintry weather and the beginning of warmer weather and green grass in the major cattle production areas. Over the weekend weather patterns turned spring-like across much of the country and it seemed this week that “grass fever” could be infectious for the rest of the month.
Feeder Cattle futures last week exhibited a change in behavior and maybe even starting to embrace a new attitude with an impressive rally since last week. There is no way to say for sure if there is a little more upside or a lot for cattle futures but we are seeing Feeder Cattle futures trading at levels not seen since the first week of January. Last week’s feedlot trade saw the Bull return and prevail over the Bear as success of higher feedlot sales of tight fed supplies spurred short bought packers to spend more money on available fed cattle. Hopefully the concerns that grappled the cattle futures in December, January and February has dissipated.
Cattle futures have seen open interest drop dramatically, but over the last couple of weeks have seen open interest start increasing and seen funds start to come in on the long side. Buyers aggressively this week purchased cattle for summer grazing and seemingly started to throw caution to the wind as they try to fill orders early enough to get their stockers assembled and straightened out before turn-out dates and before offerings completely dry up. On Wednesday at the Hub City Livestock Market in Aberdeen, SD sold near 100 head of fancy steers averaging 637 lbs top the market at 274.50. At the St. Joseph Stockyards in St. Joseph, MO on Wednesday sold near 275 head of steers averaging 725 lbs for weighted average price 236.62, with over 80 head of steers in thin condition averaging 713 lbs averaging 246.87. The beef cut-out value this week has seen strength in Select cuts compared to the Choice product with Select closing within 5 cents of Choice on Friday at 244.07 compared to 244.12 on Choice. Auction volume included 67 percent over 600 lbs and 39 percent heifers.