Another week, another market-clogging, performance-robbing storm. This time, what’s termed a bomb cyclone that brought blizzard conditions, heavy rain, damaging winds and flooding.
“Receipts were curtailed again this week due to reduced or cancelled sales in Nebraska and the Dakotas as an intense storm ripped through Rockies and into the Central and Northern Plains,” explain analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). “Low-lying areas that feed the Missouri River are inundated with moisture and the frozen ground underneath can't absorb any more precipitation.”
“Receipts were sharply shortened, due to heavy rain in the local reporting area,” explained the AMS reporter on hand for Wednesday’s sale at Huss Platte Valley Livestock Auction in Kearney, Neb. “Muddy roads and pen conditions have dampened the mood to procure cattle for the time being.”
Overall, steers and heifers sold $1-$5 per cwt lower in the North and South Central regions of the nation, according to AMS. Grass-bound cattle from the Southeast brought steady money.
“Cow-calf producers in Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota and Missouri are poised to wean a calf crop that will fall way short of perfect this fall,” AMS analysts say. “Anecdotes of cattleman losing 10-25% of their calf crop is commonplace this year, even for some cattlemen who normally have +95% at the end of calving season.”
Feeder Cattle futures wobbled, but picked up some late -week support from Live Cattle (more below). Week to week on Friday, they closed 7 cents to $2.60 lower (spot Mar) through the front three contracts. They were an average of 55 cents higher in the next three and then an average of 11 cents lower.
The CME Feeder Cattle Index declined to the lowest level since last May at $137.65 on Thursday.
“The calf market may be underperforming because of the failure of the feeder cattle market to make any advances,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “The feeder cattle market has been sluggish for five months and has failed to gain any traction despite the strong finished cattle market.”
Listen to Wes Ishmael's Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, March 16, 2019.