Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves over 600 lbs sold mostly 5.00-15.00 lower with instances 20.00 lower late in the week. Lighter-weight calves traded unevenly steady to 5.00 lower for the most part.
Live and Feeder Cattle futures this week continued its flush out mode with bears pretty emboldened as the big money traders in the funds are ruling the day. With the funds heavily involved in the market it brings much risk when they want to vacate their positions. This has been a market that fluctuates in price and can carry a lot of emotion from one week to the next and when markets go to the extreme no wants to be in front of the freight train. Last week cash and future prices were looking in the opposite direction as feedlot sales were mostly 4.00- 5.00 higher and the Live Cattle futures lost over 5.00; since last week the February Live Cattle contract has declined over 10.00 and the June Live Cattle contract is trading in the 147.00 range with breakeven much higher than that. This is making the yearling feeder cattle market very uneasy and feeling the pressure and hinting that prices are now descending the back-side of the mountain top.
Calf demand remains very good in many areas as farmer buying and backgrounders were active to purchase grazing cattle for spring. In Russell, IA on Monday sold over 400 head of 600-650 lb steers averaging 621 lbs sold with a weighted average prices of 274.06 and the 500-550 lb steer calves averaging 531 lbs sold at an average of 304.91.
Boxed Beef prices continue to climb this week as choice product closed at 263.81 on Wednesday a new record high eclipsing the previous record on July 31, 2014 of 263.66. The market has been worried about consumer beef demand for a long time but so far demand has held up as the American consumer has revealed the willingness to pay for meat prices.
Waning beef demand warnings cannot be substantiated at this time but there is much competition from other meat proteins and consumer preference will be a key with growing potential for disposable personal incomes bodes well for meat protein spending. This week’s auction volume consisted of 63 percent over 600 lbs and 39 percent heifers.