Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold 2.00 to 7.00 higher; some with auctions in the Nebraska and the Southeast reporting steers 10.00 to 14.00 higher. The most gain on steers would be the “grass crazy” demand right now as some producers held off purchasing steers under 650 lbs that are suitable for grass until warmer weather is imminent. Demand at most auctions nationwide this week was described from good to very good as out of state buyers showed up where they hadn’t been seen for a while. Feedlot pens in the Northern Plains have dried considerably the last week and farmer/feeders came to town to procure cattle before they become swamped with planting spring crops. When farmers start the planter in the field, cattle procurement won’t even cross their mind until the planters are back in the shed. Large strings on hand at auctions nationwide this week and feeder cattle marketing in Nebraska was delayed two to four weeks due to the two bomb cyclones that moved across the state since the middle of March. On Thursday at Ogallala (Neb.) Livestock Auction Market, two loads of 611 lb steers that were reportedly going to graze sold at 205.00. Several packages of 5-weight cattle there also sold over the 200.00 level. The CME Cattle complex found solid footing this week with the front six months of Live Cattle futures being 1.08 to 2.27 higher on the week. Feeder Cattle futures was minimally higher on the April contract for the week, while the next five months were 1.02 to 2.65 higher. Packers have now turned to buying for the Mother’s Day and Memorial Day holidays and negotiated feedlot trade again started in the Southern Plains on Wednesday as packers came out and bid 126.00, with feedlots quickly taking their bids which were 2.00 higher than last week. Nebraska traded cattle Thursday afternoon at 130.00, 2.00 to 4.00 higher than last week with dressed purchases 2.00 to 3.00 higher at 207.00 to 208.00. With the box-beef cut-out increasing in value each day, packers have increased the need for cattle this week. Fed cattle slaughter weights continue to trend below year ago levels as the hard winter in the North took a toll on weight gains. Steers weights for week ending April 6 are seven lbs below last year and heifer weights are five lbs below. The April 1 Cattle on Feed released Thursday this week reported On Feed at 102 percent; Marketings at 97 percent and Placements at 105 percent. At 2.014 million head, March placements were reported to be the 4th largest in recent history. One thing that analysts will be looking at in future months would be the amount of wheat pasture cattle that will be moving in May. Cattle Slaughter under federal inspection estimated at 638K for the week, the same as last week and 11K more than a year ago. Auction volume this week included 51 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 45 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.