Fed Cattle Market Bottom? Not Yet

Cash fed cattle prices were $2 to $3 lower on the week. ( Wyatt Bechtel )

Cattle feeders have not found a bottom to the spring market yet, though spring officially ended Friday. Cattle sold in most regions at $110 per cwt., $2 to $3 lower. Iowa cattle sold at $113, which was the peak. Nebraska sold at $110 and dressed at $181 to $183.

Friday’s cattle on feed report is expected to be mostly neutral to futures prices Monday. The report showed a total inventory of 11.7 million head on feed June 1, an increase of 1.6%.

Placements in May totaled 2.06 million head, 3% below 2018 levels. Marketings in May were 2.07 million head, up 1% from a year ago and in line with the average analyst expectations.

At auctions across the nation, feeder steers and heifers sold uneven, from $3 lower to $2 higher.

Agricultural Marketing Service reporters say cattle feeders have approached the dog days of summer cautiously this year, with cost of gains expected higher with the lack of corn acres planted nationwide.

“Flesh condition of cattle has really been attractive to feeders after the cold, wet, muddy conditions cattle have had to endure to this point,” AMS said.

“Corn crop condition ratings showed 59 percent good to excellent and planting progress at 92 percent completed.  The corn market will continue to debate acreage losses and yield effects for the late planted crop and that will keep uncertainty in the market for the rest growing season.  Boxed-beef values have shown some light seasonal weakness as we start the summer, but choice box-beef is still trading around $220 as cash cattle prices continue to decline.

For the week, the Choice cutout closed $2.41 lower at $219.82, while Select was $3.21 lower at $199.55.  Cattle Slaughter under federal inspection estimated at 662,000 for the week, 3,000 less than last week and 4,000 more than a year ago. 

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