Compared to last week, steers sold 1.00 to 6.00 higher. Heifers sold mostly steady to 3.00 higher nationwide, with the exception of North Central region selling 4.00 to 6.00 higher.  Feeder supply was moderate at locations that had sales this week as the fall run will be upon us shortly and most all auctions will go to weekly sales in the coming months.  Long strings of yearlings are still making their way to market in the Northern Plains as the grass has been abundant, and producers had been content to watch their inventory increase in value in recent times.  Ranchers were welcomed with open arms and the full strength of the market.  Buyers were willing to bid up to meet their procurement needs and get pens filled ahead of the corn harvest coming. In the Sandhills of Nebraska on Thursday, Valentine Livestock Auction sold several strings of reputation cattle for some handsome prices.  A load of 747 lb steers and a load of 751 lb steers sold at 180.00, while a load of 802 lb steers sold at 176.75.  On Wednesday as Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett, Neb. two loads of steers weighing 1014 lbs sold at 151.00, and two loads weighing 1035 lbs sold at 150.25.  Breeding heifers were also in demand at Valentine as a large load of 813 lb red white-face reputation heifers sold at 1300.00 per head.  Two loads of their bigger sisters weighing 863 and 870 lbs respectively sold at 1340.00 per head.  As of Monday this week, corn harvest has started in the Eastern Corn Belt with Illinois and Indiana harvest being 7 percent and 3 percent respectively ahead of the previous five-year average.  Once those large combines start rolling across the fields, a lot of progress can be accomplished in a week; so it will be interesting to see where next week’s numbers come in at.  Farmers have been crunching numbers most of the summer to see when and how much is needed to deliver to the elevator to cover bills for a while.  Grain basis is typically not very attractive when a large harvest is looming on the horizon.  Cattle slaughter has been clicking along this summer with larger harvests than a year ago.  Packer margins have been advantageous to them this summer and have been willing to pay the overtime for a six-day week production.  Fed cattle slaughter rates can increase or decrease quickly as many packing plants harvest 4K plus per day, while the larger mature cattle processors will harvest around 2K per day.  Year-to-Date(YTD) heifer slaughter to the end of August is 8.6 percent larger than a year ago and 17 percent larger than the previous three-year average.  YTD fed cattle slaughter at the end of August is 2.3 percent larger than 2017 and 8.3 percent above the previous three-year average.  In addition, drought has increased cow slaughter this year.  YTD through August beef cow slaughter is 11.6 percent above a year ago and 24.2 percent larger than the previous three-year average.  Friday’s Cattle on Feed report was bearish placements for the second month in a row as the on feed was reported at 106 percent of a year ago; placements at 107 and marketings at 100 percent respectively.  The On Feed number of 11,125,000 head is the largest September 1 total since the data series began in 1996.  Just like last month, most of the increase in placements in August were due to the under 600 lbs and 600-699 lb categories.  Compared last year, the under 600 lb category was 70K or 19.4 percent higher while the 600-699 lb category was 50K or 17.5 percent higher than August 2017.   Between the last two cattle on feed reports, the under 600 lb category is 16.7 percent higher and the 600-699 lbs category is 20.2 percent larger than a year ago.  Auction volume this week included 49 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.