After early-week pressure from the monthly Cattle on Feed report, cattle markets firmed with a sense that fed cattle prices can increase over the next couple of months, supported by snugger harvest-ready supplies and strong consumer beef demand.
Nationally, steers and heifers traded from $2 per cwt lower to $2 higher, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
Analysts there note very good demand for the larger strings of yearling steers and heifers coming off grass in the Northern Plains. They add that “Herd health programs are becoming more of an issue earlier this year as temperature swings in the Midwest are ranging from lows in the 40s to highs in the mid 80s in a matter of a couple of days.”
Week to week on Friday, not counting expiring Sep and newly minted away Sep, Feeder Cattle futures closed 20 cents lower to 25 cents higher across the front half of the board and then an average of 74 cents higher.
Current calf and feeder cattle price support includes the promise of positive forage conditions for fall and winter grazing.
According to the most recent USDA Crop Progress report, 45% of pasture and range last week was in Good or Excellent condition, which was 1% more than a week earlier and 3% more than a year earlier. Conversely, 24% is rated as Poor or Very Poor, which is 1% less than last year.
And, 28% of Winter wheat was planted, which was 6% ahead of last year and 2% ahead of the five-year average.
As for fed cattle, Negotiated prices languished this week at mainly steady money of $110-$111 per cwt on a live basis and mostly $174 in the beef.
Week to week on Friday, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 44 cents higher (2 cents to 75 cents higher), helped along by growing open interest.
Listen to Wes Ishmael's Cattle Market Weekly Audio Repor every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018.