The April Cattle on Feed report said placements into large feedlots during March were up 0.4% and marketings were down 1.7% compared to March 2014. That yields an on feed number April 1 equal to 100.0% of a year ago. Placements were larger than the trade forecast.

USDA's latest Cold Storage report says there were 480 million pounds of beef in cold storage at the end of March. That is 18.2% more than a year ago, but 2.4% less than the month before. Overall, this is good news as beef stocks usually increase during March.

The weekly Crop Progress report says that national moisture conditions are wetter than a year ago, which should be good news for forages.

Fed cattle prices this week were lower on moderate volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $158.91/cwt, down $3.80 from last week's average, but up $12.23 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $252.14/cwt, down $3.82 for the week, but up $16.14 compared to the same week last year.

This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $258.78/cwt, up $1.09 from the previous Friday and up $25.71 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $249.28/cwt this morning, down $2.17 from last week, but up $27.21 from a year ago.

Cattle slaughter this week totaled 544,000 head, up 2.1% from the week before, but down 5.9% from the same week last year. Year-to-date cattle slaughter is down 7.5% and beef production is down 5.3%.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on April 11 was 871 pounds, up 2 pounds from the week before and up 21 pounds compared to the same week last year. Steer weights have been above year-ago each week since June 14, 2014.

Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were mostly steady to $4 lower this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $321-$322, 450-500# $284-$294, 500-550# $285-$294.50, 550-600# $256.50-$274, 600-650# $240-$257, 650-700# $225-$247, 700-750# $221.75-$233.50, 750-800# $206.75-$216.50, 800-900# $190-$206, and 900-1000#, $177-$196/cwt.

Cattle futures moved strongly higher this week. The April live cattle futures contract settled at $161.17/cwt today, up $3.37 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $151.20/cwt, up $2.20 from the previous week. August fed cattle gained $3.05 this week to settle at $149.72/cwt. October live cattle ended the week at $151.22/cwt.

The April feeder cattle contract ended the week at $214.85/cwt, up $1.85 for the week. May feeders settled at $214.07/cwt which is $5.55 higher than the week before. August feeders ended the week at $215.67/cwt, up $5.47 from last Friday.