Compared to last week, yearling feeder cattle sold mostly steady to 5.00 higher with instances 6.00-8.00 higher. Direct trade was mostly 4.00-7.00 higher, regaining most of last week’s losses. Some of the sharpest gains were noted on heavy feeders weighing over 800 lbs. Feeder calves started the week steady to 5.00 lower then by mid-week turning mostly steady to spots 5.00 higher where calves were available. Discounts continue in many cases on fleshy unweaned bawlers mostly weighing under 500 lbs that tend to melt in the hot sun. A higher auction market for yearlings with prices stronger than many expected, after last week’s lower trends seen around the auction circuit.
In Bassett, NE on Wednesday sold near 450 head of 600-650 lb steers averaging 622 lbs for a weighted average price of 268.79. In Torrington, Wy on Wednesday sold 185 head of 800-850 lb steers averaging 822 lbs for a weighted average price of 219.65. The market shook off last Friday’s Cattle on Feed report which was viewed as mildly to moderately bearish for trade on Monday morning, as futures were sharply lower. Placements came in 5 percent higher than expected which should push fed cattle supplies for fall larger than expected. Packers will have plenty of cattle to harvest from now through the 4th of July, during the premier beef demand season.
Marketing continues to lag behind year ago levels but seasonal increase in beef supplies will continue. Choice Box-beef prices continued to hover around the 259.00 mark until Wednesday, with Wednesday afternoon’s total boxed-beef movement very impressive with heavy movement of 221 loads one of the few times this year that the total movement has been over 200 loads. With Mother’s Day, graduations and Memorial weekend coming up, sales picked up for retailers. Boxed-beef then moved lower with Choice product closing 2.26 lower at 254.64 on Friday as that would be near 25.00 higher than year ago levels.
Auction receipts are starting to get lighter and will continue at a fast pace and buyers realize they need to fill orders now while there are still cattle available. For the balance of the spring, many producers will be concentrated on getting their corn and soybeans in the ground while most available supplies of calves and yearlings will be turned-out on grass until the summer yearling specials. Corn planting on Monday was at 19 percent completed with this week’s forecast for clear skies throughout much of the Corn Belt. Planting is running at a high pace, and it’s possible that number will more than double by next Monday. Fed cattle prices gained 2.00 on live prices in Kansas Friday morning trading at 160.00, with trade in Nebraska from 160.00-163.00 and Colorado 3.00 higher at 163.00. This week’s auction volume included 52 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.