Compared to last week, steer and heifers sold uneven; 2.00 lower to 2.00 higher. Auction receipts this week are the largest since January 12, 2018 and the nation has a very small percentage of the true yearlings left to move in the market place. Several auctions in South Dakota had two sales this week to accommodate producers willing to sell cattle and the state accounts for over 18 percent of the auction receipts. Great weather for shipment this week and truckers willing to get those rancher cattle to the sale barn were factors in their inflated receipt number. Some truckers were pulled off of hauling direct, video and/or contracted feeder cattle the previous week and were wanting them hauled this week, however they were not willing to put off scheduled work. Those aforementioned will just have to be rescheduled. A shortage of trucks were evident in Nebraska last week and South Dakota this week and some that could hook onto a pot were booked hauling grain. Weather plays a key role this time of year as lower temperatures and shorter days are a farmer’s worst nightmare after a soaking rain. It can take days for the soil to dry out where a 15-plus ton combine can move through the field without making a rut. Cattle slaughter continues along at a pretty good clip that packers have found to be advantageous to their bottom line. Packer margins have been on the positive side for many months now, and they have doe an excellent job by managing their inventory since Labor Day. Steer dressed weight for week ending October 13 was listed at 899 lbs, four pounds below the previous week. Muddy pen conditions and lower temperatures nationwide the first week in October were contributing factors in the drop in weights. As pens dry out, one would expect weights to bump right back up as long as cold, wet weather doesn’t happen again throughout the Great Plains. As reported by NASS on Thursday, Year-to-Date Cattle Slaughter through September is 2.6 percent above last year and 8.6 percent above the previous three-year average. YTD steer and heifer slaughter is 1.2 percent below and 7.6 percent above last year respectively. Also, YTD Beef cow slaughter is 10.7 percent above a year ago and 22.8 percent above the previous three-year-average. With that many beef cows moved to slaughter this year, some analysts are looking to late 2019 futures to see if current 114.00 to 116.00 prices are realistic. Six weeks of steady (111.00 live) negotiated cash fed cattle prices left many scratching their head with each passing week. However on Friday, fed cattle started with limited trading in TX/OK/NM at 113.00, then Kansas moved some at 114.00, only for TX/OK/NM to trade the bulk of theirs at 115.00. Kansas and Nebraska both traded live sales at 114.00 to 115.00 this week while dressed sales in Nebraska sold at 180.00. With cash fed cattle now at a premium to the CME, tendered loads of fed cattle would not be expected to occur after near 180 loads have been tendered for the October delivery month. Rib demand this time of year has increased as retailers prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Cutouts have continued to move higher in the past couple weeks. For the week, Choice cutout closed 5.54 higher at 213.47, while Select was 4.59 higher at 198.83. With this week’s increase, Choice cutouts have gained 10.76 since the most recent low of 202.11 reported on October 10, 2018. Monday’s cold storage report listed total pounds of red meat in freezers up one percent from last month and down one percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up one percent from last month at 508.6 million pounds and up three percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up one percent from last month at 588.9 million pounds and down five percent from last year. Total pounds of chicken came in at 959.4 million pounds, up 17.3 percent from last year. Auction volume this week included 34 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 39 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.