Compared to last week, lighter receipts of yearling feeder cattle sold unevenly 2.00 lower to 2.00 higher with the gains predominantly on those weighing over 800 lbs (especially steers) and weakness mostly on 600-800 lb feeders.
Last Friday’s bearish cattle-on-feed report’s bark was much worse than its bite after market members absorbed the fact that June placements are traditionally light and the significant displacement of drought cattle in the Southwest could easily inflate data past projections. Steer and heifer calf prices were extremely uneven and dependent on geographic location and whether that particular market had fully realized last week’s losses or perhaps if those losses were overdone and a correction was in order. Generally, calf prices were weak to 6.00 lower throughout the Southeast and into the driest areas of the Southern Plains. Lightweight cattle prices were actually steady to 3.00 higher as they approached the Midwest and Northern Plains as these areas are much more apt to have late summer and early fall grazing.
Well-advertised reports of cattle being forced from drought stricken pastures and into feedlots, plus the early weaning and sale of pee-wee calves (under 400 lbs) has improved the autumn feeder cattle market outlook that normally falls under heavy pressure from the large movement of spring born calves. Backgrounders with the ability are acting on this hunch and hoping to accumulate lightweights now and harden them into short-yearlings which normally bring a premium to the short-weaned fleshier calves that dominate fall and winter offerings. Superior Video’s four day sale included a long string of calves from RO Cattle Company near Round Mountain, NV with the light-end of the steers set to weigh 390 lbs selling at 212.50 for November delivery. Extreme heat continues to plague cattle country with the cumulative weight of our country’s herd undoubtedly lighter than it was two weeks ago. Nowhere is the heat more troublesome than in the feedlots where bunks are no longer “slick” by feeding time as consumption has fallen off and heat-stress deathloss is mounting. Some of the last hold-outs in Texas to liquidate or harshly reduce their herds are currently backing up to their chutes while many farmers and ranchers have lined up across the Gulf Coast and are waving-in Tropical Storm Don which is expected to make landfall this weekend. Texas’ Federal-State Livestock and Grain Market Reporting Service is now officially set to dissolve on September 1st and producers will have to rely on hearsay and hand-picked representative sales on paid-for advertisements to get their market information. Users may be surprised to find that commodity screens, market publications, and radio stations do not have reporters on the seats at auctions across the state. Panhandle feedlots held out until Friday to trade fed cattle steady at 108.50, while heat weary Kansas sold early in the week on Tuesday 1.00 lower at 107.00. This week’s reported auction volume included 42 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.