Compared to last week, feeder cattle traded firm to 2.00 higher on good demand. Calves sold unevenly steady with some areas of the country showing advances on weaned calves and a decline on un-weaned or short weaned calves. Demand was light for short weaned calves which is very typical for this time of year with unpredictable weather patterns. The extreme temperature changes this week across much of the trading areas had buyers and seller concerned about herd health. Feeder demand improved this week as slaughter cattle pricing managed to hold mostly steady. Packers continue to work in the black as slaughter rates remained aggressive and finished the week at 643,000 head. Which was 7,000 behind last week, but 7,000 above of this time last year. Despite the recent heavy rains in many areas of the country which typically prevents cattle from moving, auction receipts increased by 64,000 over last week. In the northern plains, the number of feeder cattle coming to auction was limited, as a larger number than normal, were sold earlier this summer due to limited forage conditions. Western Cornbelt feeding area, pen space is limited, and cattle weights continue to rise as farmer feeders have experience good performance over the last month. In addition, with the current corn values, farmer feeders have plenty of feed supply going into the winter months. Thus, keeping demand strong for feeder cattle. Feeder runs in the Southeast returning to normal as a drier pattern moves thru following Hurricane Florence. This year’s wet weather in Southeast has been a benefit for hay farmers, as they are looking at getting additional cutting over their typically three cuttings in a year. This is opposite of what took place for much of the Central U.S. where drought conditions were prevalent the majority of the summer months, limiting hay supplies causing prices to increase. Wheat planting is very active across the wheat belt as farmers try to benefit from a short dry period. A strong cold front is pushing down from the North, combined with a tropical system from the southwest and is expected to drop heavy snows in a few northern states and heavy rains for much of the south and south central states. Auction volume this week included 43 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.