Compared to last week, a light holiday test of yearlings and calves sold fully steady to 5.00 higher. The official start to the summer grilling season was followed by continued good demand for all classes and in many cases no signs of top-side pressure. Many major early–week auctions were idle this week, including the Oklahoma National Stockyards and the Joplin Regional Stockyards but buyers picked up where they left off at mid-week sales, as demand remains very good for calves and yearlings.
Calve markets continue to trade on limited supplies with enough localized demand to offset supplies. The best advance continues to be on the heavier yearlings over 800 lbs as demand remains very good on yearlings with farmer/feeders in the Corn Belt having plenty of corn from last year’s record crop and looking at another good start to the 2015 crop and wanting to “walk it off”. Several sales took the opportunity to hold special sales, including the one in Russell, IA which sold over 4200 head including near 250 head of steer calves weighing from 500-550 lbs averaging 528 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 301.46 and a pot load of steers averaging 817 lbs selling at 234.25.
A little farther south at the Unionville Livestock Auction in Unionville, MO on Tuesday sold over 240 head of yearling steers averaging 885 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 224.60. Last week’s Cattle on Feed Report released last Friday was bullish with April replacements coming in significantly lower than expected at 95 percent. One bullish aspect to this number would be smaller slaughter numbers going into the fourth quarter of this year and also that heifer retention is still very active for herd expansion.
Boxed-beef values after a stellar performance took a breather late last week while attention will turn to weekend clearance. Boxed- beef prices continued to hold together till mid-week trading mostly above 260.00 level for Choice product, then dipping below the 260.00 mark on Thursday closing at 259.25. Friday boxed-beef values turned sharply lower, with Choice down 4.26 closing at 254.99. Boxed-beef values are due for a seasonal decline and correction after topping out around the Memorial Day period, as the long hot days of summer set in. Beef demand so far has been generally unaffected by pork and poultry sales.
On Thursday Live and Feeder Cattle futures had impressive triple-digit gains, trading at some of their highest levels since the first part of January. Wet weather persisted across much of the country with flooding conditions in the Southern Plains from Texas up through Kansas. With widespread rains supporting excellent grazing throughout much of the country is a trend that is expected to continue. Corn planting is now 92 percent completed, with the first 2015 corn planting crop conditions out at 74 percent rated good to excellent; it’s a long growing season and a long way from being in the bin, but the corn season is off to one of the best starts in years. Auction volume included 54 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.