Week ending Mar. 30th

Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers sold 1.00 to 5.00 lower, with lighter calves in the Southeast as much as 8.00 lower. Demand was moderate to good at most auctions this week, with calves suitable for grass having the best demand. There are still some yearling cattle showing up at auctions and some are commanding handsome prices. On Wednesday at the St Joseph Stockyards in St Joseph, Mo., a package of 635 lbs steers sold at 199.00. Just 75 miles up the road on Thursday at Clarinda Livestock Auction in Clarinda, Iowa, a part load of 651 lb steers sold at 176.00. OnMondayatF&T Livestock in Palmyra, Mo., a package of 650 lbs steers sold at 178.00 and on Tuesday at Lolli Brothers in Macon, Mo., a package of 707 lb steers sold at 166.50. Feeder buyers have been more willing to dip down and procure smaller packages of top quality cattle as the numbers at auctions are sure to dwindle in the

coming months. Heifers ready to take home and make cows for a long time were in demand in the Northern Plains late last week. Last Friday at Fort Pierre Livestock in Fort Pierre, S.D., a load of 847 lbs replacement quality bangs vaccinated heifers sold at 146.00 while a half load of 886 lbs similar heifers sold at 145.75. Volatility throughout the futures markets this week held the bulls in check as the bears solidly took over. The front five months of CME Live Cattle contracts were 2.30 to 3.63 lower and Feeders were 1.88 to 3.28 lower. The June Live Cattle Contract closed on Friday at the lowest value since late April 2017. Significant equity has vanished from the Cattle complex in recent weeks as feedlot managers trade a substantial amount of cattle out front for future delivery in order to lock in a price ahead of the normal calf-feds hitting the supply chain in late April to early May. Fed cattle supplies increasing in the weeks ahead and anticipation of lower prices has been the focus of this cattle market and packers bought the second largest weekly total purchased for 15-30 day deliveries since the data series started in March of 2010. Placements in the September to November time frame were roughly 12.5 percent above the previous year placements and winter weather in the Southern Plains has been good for weight gains, so an increase over year-ago carcass weights are also expected. For the first two months of the year, steer carcass weights are two pounds above year-ago levels and seven pounds above the previous three-year average. Packers didn’t have to work hard to buy cattle at lower levels this week as they surfaced on Tuesday ready to procure

cattle with sales from 120.00 to 121.00 in the Southern and Northern Plains, mostly 5.00 lower. Cattle Slaughter for the February Year to Date is nearly 5.1 million head; 4.7 percent higher than a year ago and 9.7 percent higher than the previous three-year average. That total of 5.092 million head is the largest since the 2013 total of 5.100 million head. Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.06 billion pounds in February and was a record high production for the month of February. Beef production totaled 1.98 billion pounds in February and was three percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.42 million head, up two percent from February 2017. Pork production totaled 2.06 billion pounds, up four percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.64 million head, up three percent from February 2017. January to February 2018 commercial red meat production was 8.65 billion pounds, up five percent from 2017. The quarterly Hogs and Pigs report was estimated at 72.908 million head, a record for the data series that start- ed in 1988. The grain markets were sharply higher on Thursday after the annual Prospective Plantings report was released. A surprise this year is the anticipation of more soybean acres planted than that of corn. Corn acres are estimated at 88.0 million; down two percent from last year. Soybean acres are estimated at 89.0 million; down one percent from year ago. Auction volume this week included 54 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 44 percent heifers.

Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.