Cattle markets were feeling some holiday spirit today and experienced some green across the boards.
Cash cattle trade was slow to develop, with only 183 head sold and not enough trades for a market trend. On the other hand, formula cattle numbers totaled 23,400 head, averaging 873 lbs. and $172.54.
Live cattle contracts were higher: The December contract was up 90 cents to $113.05 and the February contract up 80 cents to $115.77.
“As the market looks to the New Year and hopes for new opportunities, the market’s underlying support only continues to build as boxed beef prices scale higher, cash cattle trade is demanding attention and slaughter speeds remain elevated,” commented DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart in her midday comments. She added that feedlots are anticipated to price cattle $1-2 higher, although early bids have yet to surface this week.
Today’s slaughter is estimated at 119,000 head, following a shortened slaughter week and anticipating another short holiday week. Last week, only 1,000 head were slaughtered Saturday and none Friday due to the holiday, bringing the week’s total slaughter to 419,000 head.
Boxed beef prices were mixed today: The Choice cutout was up 28 cents to $207.82 and the Select cutout was down $1.28 to $196.65 on 160 loads.
Feeder cattle futures were also green: The January contract was up 7 cents to $141 and the March contract was up 27 cents to $142.60. The corn contract continues to soar, settling at $4.56.
“As the market prepares for feeder cattle to once again hit the market mainly after the first of the year, buyers are eyeing the futures complex and are loving the market’s long-term strength,” Stewart said.
“For those looking to buy calves early this winter and summer them on grass, the late summer early fall futures are aligning perfectly as the August 2021 through October 2021 contracts are all trading above $150.”
Tri-State Livestock Auction in McCook, NE, sold 550 head Monday. Due to lesser numbers from the holiday weeks, there were no comparisons. Benchmark steers averaging 784 lbs. sold for $149.
Sioux Falls Regional Cattle Auction in Worthing, SD, sold 1,966 head Monday. Compared to two weeks prior, there were too few steer calves offered to fully test the market, but heifer calves sold mostly steady in a light test. The offering of yearling steers was of weights not similar to the prior sale, but a higher undertone was noted. Yearling heifers were $3 higher, except 800-850 lbs. sold $5-10 higher. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor