Compared to last week, yearling feeder cattle sold mostly steady with spots 2.00 higher to 2.00 lower. Steer and heifer calves traded steady to 5.00 lower throughout auctions in the Midwest and the Southeast. Demand still remains very good for calves and yearlings as there were several special sales this week as on Wednesday in Bassett, NE held a special fall-born calf sale selling 4500 head of top quality calves with some of the bell ringers; near 400 head of steer calves weighing 550-600 lbs averaging 578 lbs selling with a weighted average price of 306.68 and near 800 head of their bigger brothers weighing 650-700 lbs averaging 662 lbs with a weighted average price of 274.07.
The Northern Livestock Video’s Early Summer Special featured over 40,000 head of some of the fanciest cattle that walk the outdoors on Monday and Tuesday. Many high-country ranchers are adding value by preserving their cattle’s all-natural or NHTC status with near 1300 head of value added steer calves weighing between 500-550 lbs averaging 519 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 307.03 for November delivery. In addition, three loads of value added current delivery steers averaging 825 lbs sold for 243.00. It was also noted that Montana and Wyoming ranchers are aggressively rebuilding their herds with only 26 percent of sales being heifers. Strings of yearlings will soon be moving off double-stocked pastures in the major grazing regions and the dog days of summer will soon be upon us right as consumer beef demand usually suffers its post July 4th hangover. Last Friday’s Cattle on Feed report was viewed as neutral to slightly bullish as placements were down near 10 percent compared to year ago levels.
Feedlots in most cases continue to face stiff competition from farmer/feeders with plenty of corn on hand, backgrounders and grass operations. On Monday USDA released its Cold Storage Report with total red meat supplies in freezers down 5 percent from last month but up 19 percent from last year. Inventories of boneless and bone-in beef in freezers were down 3 percent from last month but 24 percent higher than year ago levels as larger supplies of imported beef are bolstering inventories. Cut-out values continue to move higher this week heading into the 4th of July Holiday, but Choice cut-out closed 2.03 lower at 253.12 on Friday compared to last Friday’s close at 251.32.
CME cattle futures took a turn for the worse on Wednesday then started frantically bailing water on Thursday with limit to near limit losses on feeder cattle contracts. Continued rain throughout the Corn Belt is raising concerns over corn crop conditions that may take away from production with USDA’s crop report due out next week. Rising corn prices are also pressuring the feeder cattle contracts.
Corn prices this week caught some tailwinds from strong gains in soybean and wheat markets. Corn and soybean conditions declined this week in USDA’s weekly crop report with corn conditions declining from 73 percent good to excellent to 71 percent. Soybeans declined from 67 percent good to excellent to 65 percent with 90 percent of the soybean crop planting completed. Winter wheat is 19 percent harvested with winter wheat conditions declining from 43 percent good to excellent to 41 percent. Auction volume was 52 percent over 600 lbs and 38 percent heifers.