Last week saw the markets reverse course and begin a slow climb with every area other than packer margins seeing gains.
For example, beginning Tuesday, the Choice cutout began to make gains after several weeks of slow declines. Choice closed Thursday at $215.63 (+$3.67 compared to the prior Friday). The Select cutout however lost a net 26 cents with $186.66.
“Boxed beef values have bottomed seasonally this week, the Choice at $211,” Cassie Fish of the Beef Report noted on Wednesday morning. “Expect prices to rise seasonally and modestly over the next six weeks or so.”
By the close of trade Thursday, Oct. 10, the cash fed cattle trade had shown some life. But not much. Only 6,881 head of negotiated cash fed cattle had been confirmed sold for the week as of the Thursday afternoon report. Prices paid Thursday were $109 live and $170-171 (avg. $170.23) dressed. This was up from the prior week’s averages of $107.56 live and $169.84 dressed.
Cash feeder sales were mostly higher last week with more auctions posting results than in recent weeks. In general, prices were trending higher, with most averages falling in the upper $140s for medium and large #1 steers weighing 700-800 lbs.
Colorado: The Winter Livestock auction of La Junta sold fewer cattle last week at mixed but mostly lower prices. Light steer calves were steady to up $1 and mid-weights were down $2-3. Heifer calves were down $3-5 with instances of $8 lower. Yearling steers were down $3-5 and yearling heifers were too lightly tested for a trend. Trade and demand were called moderate to good. Number 1, 7-weight steers ranged from $140-148.25.
Iowa: There were no comparisons at the Knoxville Regional auction due to no recent sales. Just under 1,200 head of mostly 600-lb. and heavier feeders sold. Demand for calves was called moderate to fair while demand for yearlings was moderate to good on active trade. Benchmark yearling steers sold between $142.50-147.
Kansas: There were few comparable sales at the Winter Livestock auction of Pratt last week due to a large increase in the offering. High demand was noted for mid- to heavy-weight feeder steers. Heifers were mostly up $1-2 on limited comparable sales. No trend on calves due to too few comparable sales. Sales of #1, 7-weight steers ranged from $139-147.
Missouri: Sale volume was down at the Joplin Regional Stockyards last week with 3,529 head sold versus the prior week’s 5,254 head. Feeders were steady to $5 higher compared to the prior week, with the lightweight weaned calves of good quality being sharply higher and in good demand. Discounts were given for short- or unweaned calves that didn’t have at least two rounds of shots. Two lots of #1, 7-weight steers sold between $144-152.
Montana: Sales of feeder cattle were five times larger last week at the Miles City Livestock Commission than the week before. This of course meant there were too few comparable sales for a market trend for the most part. The exception was for heavy heifers, which were down $2-3 on 8-weights, but steady to up $2 on 9 weights. Two lots of #1, 7-weight yearling steers sold, one standard and the other NHTC, with both averaging $147.75.
Nebraska: More feeder cattle sold last week at the Bassett Livestock Auction than the week before. Comparable sales on heavy steers traded $2-7 higher with the exception of 8-weights, which were down $3. No trends on heifers or calves. Demand was called good. Two lots of benchmark steers sold, with the small, light lot averaging $149, and the large, heavier lot averaging $155.29.
New Mexico: The sales volume last week at the Clovis Livestock Auction was almost double what it had been the week before. Still, there were comparable sales, with steers up $3-5 (3-weights up $10) and heifers mostly $2-4 higher with instances of up $6-8. Trade was called active on very good demand. Standard #1, 7-weight yearlings ranged from $130-139, while unweaned calves and “full” yearlings ranged from $119.50-127.
Oklahoma: The OKC West-El Reno sale sold over 8,300 head of feeders last week, up from 6,739 head the week before. Feeders were called steady to up $4 on good to very good demand. Calves were too lightly tested for an accurate trend. Two very large (+500 head) lots of #1, 7-weight yearling steers averaged at $150.91 and $150.55.
South Dakota: The Hub City Livestock Auction sold more cattle for mostly steady to lower money. The best test was on heavy steers and heifers which were steady to down $2 and steady, respectively. Two lots of benchmark steer were reported sold. The yearling lot averaged $147.74 while the unweaned calf lot averaged $132.15.
Wyoming: The Torrington Livestock auction sold more cattle last week than the week before, but they sold unevenly with a few instances of $1-2 higher on heavier feeders. Steer calves were uneven and heifer calves were down $3-5. Benchmark yearling steers sold between $149-158.
Near-term futures last week staged an unexpected rally despite being overbought. In the live cattle contracts, October gained a net $1.38 to settle Thursday at $108.73 and December gained a net 65 cents with $111.43. Near-term feeder futures saw larger gains with October settling at $144.30 (+$2.32) and November settling at $144.13 (+$2.75). — Kerry Halladay, WLJ editor