Today began a day of recovery after markets last week were largely impacted by severe weather conditions.
“Thankfully packers have every incentive they need to push vigorously in their efforts to get plants running as boxed beef prices favor their bottom lines. This week’s cash cattle movement is going to be dicey,” remarked ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst, in her daily comments.
“Packers have a plethora of cattle already committed for this time frame and won’t be easily persuaded into paying more money as feedlots would like.”
Stewart added that feedlots are going to have to be strategic with their cash cattle marketing efforts likely though the first week of April.
Last week’s cash cattle volume totaled 74,306 head. Although smaller than usual, the volume was still greater than expected with all the plant shutdowns in the South. Live steers sold for $114.5 and dressed steers sold for $180.49.
Today, a total of 68 head traded on the cash cattle market—not enough trades for a market trend. On the other hand, formula cattle totaled 29,200 head and brought $184.39 at an average weight of 873 lbs.
Live cattle prices were slightly down today: The February contract lost 20 cents to $115.72 and the April contract lost 62 cents to $123.05.
Boxed beef prices continue to gain, with the Choice cutout up 75 cents to $239.98 and the Select cutout up $2.08 to $229.98 on 89 loads.
Beef slaughter was able to get back to normal levels, with 119,000 head estimated for the day, compared to last week’s 79,000 head (likely because of the federal holiday). Saturday’s slaughter clocked in at 57,000 head, bringing last week’s total to 552,000 head. For reference, USDA released the actual slaughter data for the week ending Feb. 6, which totaled 652,383 head.
Feeder cattle contracts were higher today, even with the ever-rising corn contract. March feeder cattle were up 20 cents to $139.32 and the April contract gained 60 cents to $143.27. The March corn contract gained another 8 cents, bringing the contract to $5.51. The latest CME Feeder Cattle Index was reported up $3.01 to $141.12.
“Last week’s weather shut sale barns across the Midwest and Southern Plains, so this week’s sales are expected to run with large receipts and producers could need to clean up their barnyards with the odds-and-ends cattle that need to go,” Stewart said.
Auctions last week sold 77,600 head, compared to the week prior’s 130,500 head.
Missouri: Joplin Regional Stockyards in Carthage sold 4,000 head Monday. Compared to the last sale two weeks prior, steers and heifers under 600 lbs. sold $7-10 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 723 lbs. sold between $134-141.75.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City sold 2,723 head Monday. Compared to the last sale two weeks prior, feeder steers and heifers were lightly tested and a few sales were steady to $2 higher. Demand was moderate to good for feeder cattle following a week of no sales due to weather. Steer and heifer calves sold steady in a light test. Demand was good for calves. Benchmark steers averaging 779 lbs. sold between $130-135.75. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor