Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold unevenly steady to 3.00 higher early in the week, instances 5.00 higher; then turning unevenly steady the rest of the week. Some pressure was noted on yearling heifers and heifer calves weighing 500-850 lbs through the North and South Central Regions in some cases selling 3.00-5.00 lower.
Softer fall-born new crop calves are making their way to market and in some cases widening the price spread against the rugged old croppers. Feeders had good support from the cash cattle market to start the week as the fed cattle market last week traded mostly at 167.00-169.00 with a few at 170.00. Focus returned back to the Live and Feeder cattle markets following the long Easter weekend to see if feeders and the fed cattle markets have the ability to move even higher for the rest of the month. Tight fed cattle supplies continue to help prices along with encouraging boxed beef prices.
Weekly slaughter kills continue to be historically low with last week’s harvest at 525,000 head with another low for this week estimated at 502,000. With boxed beef prices rising, packers with improving margins and increased seasonal retail beef movement, this should result in larger slaughter levels going forward into the spring.
Meat trade following the Easter Holiday is starting to focus on the potential demand as increased support for cutouts has moved significantly higher as spring demand is awakening. After a long cold winter there is hopefully a lot of pent up demand for foodservices whether it be restaurant trade or the much anticipated grilling season. Choice product closed on Friday 1.88 lower at 256.51, compared to last Friday’s close at 255.57. CME feeder cattle futures rallied on Monday then suffered an ugly reversal as the Board continued to suffer losses into midweek, then on Friday closed with sharp losses of 3.50-4.00; as overhead resistance remains tough. The velocity of these sell-offs should not be a surprise, but they do leave an impression. It seems when markets look bleak they have the ability to rally then fall even as fundamentals look strong.
Cattlemen now have their hopes tied to lots of rain and sunshine for the long-term as feeder and stocker cattle demand should start to slacken as grazers fully stock their pastures or run out of money. Farmers will soon be in full planting mode as soon as weather allows corn planting to move forward with another abundant corn crop forecasted by analysts. Auction volume included 54 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.