Despite ongoing positive fundamentals—increasing wholesale beef values, higher prices year over year and evidence of regionally snug front-end fed cattle supplies—market tones grew increasingly iffy as the week progressed.
Steer and heifer calves sold steady to $5 per cwt higher, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Feeder steers and heifers sold steady to $5 lower.
“Buyers were more reserved on feeders headed straight to the feedyard as CME futures markets were volatile all week,” AMS analysts say. “However, demand was good to very good on calves suitable for grazing. In the North Central part of the country, market reporters noted that there were fewer farmer-feeders in the seats as pens have started to thaw out and get greasy, leading to some cattle starting to carry some mud.”
Moreover, the AMS reporter on hand for Wednesday’s sale at Hub City Livestock Auction in Aberdeen, S.D., explained, “The sheer volume of heavier, finishing type cattle moving right now has allowed buyers to be very choosy, whereas the lighter, greener grass-type cattle are becoming more scarce every week and demand for these remains strong.”
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.51 lower across the front half of the board, week to week on Friday, and then an average of 93¢ lower.