Cash fed cattle were down about $2 this week. The five-area weighted average steer price for the week ended Friday was $144.69, down $2.26 from the previous Friday, and dressed steers averaged $232.26, down $1.08. Live trades in Texas were $143-$144 on Thursday, while in Kansas cattle sold at $144 on Friday. In both Nebraska, live and dressed sales were reported at $144-$145.50 and $230-$234, respectively. In the Western Cornbelt prices were a tick stronger were at $145-$146 and $230, respectively, for live and dresses.
Feeder steers in Mississippi auctions this week were once again mostly steady but remain at the record levels experienced the past few weeks. Feeder heifers were $1-$2 lower on the week. Lightweight steers were much stronger, up $2-$7, while heifer calves were mostly even. Cull cows and bulls in Mississippi were mostly steady as well. In Oklahoma City, heavy feeder steers were $3-$6 higher, light feeder steers were steady to $3 higher. Feeder heifers were called steady to $2 higher in Oklahoma City, while steer calves were firm to $4 higher and heifer calves were steady to firm.
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Live cattle futures surged higher on Monday in the wake of the Cattle on Feed report. This was followed by a mostly quiet market mid-week. As the week closed out, prices began to slide. News of cash markets being down about $2 was the primary reason for the decline. Boxed beef prices moved higher early in the week before leveling off, which provided support. Also of note, the ground beef recall is likely sticking in market participants minds but appear to be having a limited impact thus far indicating the supply side of the market is in the driver seat for the time being.
Corn futures ended the week lower as planting progress is finally taking shape. U.S. growers were 73% complete as of May 18, an increase of 14 percentage points. This compares to a 5-year average of 76%, so after a slow start we once again see just how quickly producers today can (literally) make up ground. Mississippi looks to be mostly finished at 97% complete. As a result, the market gained some confidence in the crop and removed a bit of the “weather premium”.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were higher this week with both Choice and Select rising early in the week before leveling off around $231 and $220, respectfully, by the week’s end. Choice boxes averaged $230.48, up $5.14. Select boxes were $219.74, up $4.58.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.