Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves sold steady to 5.00 higher with instances 8.00-10.00 higher on calves throughout the Southern Plains and Northern Plains. A light test of yearling feeder cattle continued to sell fully steady to 3.00 higher. Demand remains very good on all weights of
calves and true yearlings. Harvest is winding down across the Corn Belt and the cheapest corn prices in four years is causing many Midwestern and Northern Plains farmer feeders to consider "walking off" a portion of their crop to town. This has farmer feeders anxious to get their cattle bought and placed in their yards with the record corn crop near harvested. Last week’s cold front also boosted calf interest with widespread hard-freezes which will eliminate many airborne viruses plaguing new calf purchases this fall. Optimism remains high at this time as buyers continue to be eager bidders to replace the fed cattlethey have sold at historically high prices. The calf market has come through the heavy auction offerings and the deliveries in October and November of prior video and direct sales relatively unscathed as country deliveries are mostly complete.
Lighter auction runs are upon the market with the onset of holiday schedules and there seems to be plenty of demand to push feeder and stocker cattle prices even higher. At the St. Joseph, MO Stockyards on Wednesday a part load of fancy yearling steers weighing 715 lbs sold at 267.00. Also on Wednesday in Torrington, WY 105 head of fancy steer calves averaging 503 lbs sold with a average price of 322.54. Very high feeder cattle prices have left producers questioning the high risk that is being encountered, however the high fed cattle market has followed suit.
Last Friday’s impressive gains in the fed cattle market by short bought packers reinforced bullish psychology as the market carved out territory north of 170.00 at 172.00. Historically small fed cattle numbers will remain quite bullish with strong support hopefully sparking additional follow through buying. Last week packers were not allowed to set one week out and had to procure inventory to do business and it appeared to be a chase between packers to fill their needs. Boxed beef prices have found some support, posting gains as business has seemed to pick up looking past Thanksgiving, and right after, Christmas is just around the corner with ham as its main entrée. The beef market will have to battle these two holidays, as beef is still the preferred meat and also at its highest price level ever.
Friday’s afternoon Cattle on Feed Report was mostly neutral as November 1 inventory was at 100 percent of a year ago; placements at 99 percent of a year ago; marketings at 92 percent of a year ago. October marketings are lowest since series began in 1996. This week’s auction volume included 44 percent over 600 lbs and 39 percent heifers.