Cash fed cattle moved higher by about $1/cwt this week, though volume through the end of the week remained light. Live cattle in the Southern Plains traded at $114/cwt. Live trade in Nebraska was too light to call a trend, while dressed prices were $180-$181/cwt. In Oklahoma City, feeder steers were steady to $3/cwt lower and feeder heifers were steady. Un-weaned steer and heifer calves were $2-$3/cwt lower, while weaned calves were steady. Mississippi feeders were steady, slaughter cows and bulls were $2-$5/cwt lower.
Cattle futures moved mostly steady throughout the week until Friday when prices jumped. Like live cattle price movements in June, prices moved lower early in July before recovering most, if not all, of their losses. Last Friday’s barrage of reports from USDA were viewed as mostly neutral. Given that the inventory survey was conducted at the early stages of the drought most think that the beef herd will contract more than what was reported and that was fuel on Friday. In the near term, prices will likely remain subdued due to the added volume on the supply chain, but after that clears prices should recover (if demand does not suffer). The worst case is in Missouri, the third largest beef cow-calf state, which reported 74% of it’s pasture in “Very Poor” condition. On the other hand, the largest beef cow-calf state, Texas, is in better shape than a year ago with 14% of pastures rated very poor.
Corn finally cooled down this week, though still finished mostly steady with last week’s close. Prices backed off of last week’s record breaking values of over $8/bu. The percentage of the crop that is rated “Poor” and “Very Poor” moved higher to 45% versus 38% last week. Indiana and Illinois corn rated “Poor” and “Very Poor” stands at 71% and 66%, respectively.
Boxed beef prices slipped further this week. Similar to the previous couple of weeks Choice dropped harder than Select. Choice wholesale beef took a hit again this week and finished much lower than last week with a weekly average of $178.06/cwt, down $4.01. Select ended the week at $170.97/cwt, down $1.08.