Cash market trades remained limited through mid-afternoon Friday (similar to previous weeks and very much becoming the norm). The five-area cash steer price ended the week higher at $122.37 on a live basis, up $2.85 from last week, and dressed sales averaged $193, up $2.82. All state/regional markets had not seen enough volume to report prices.
In Oklahoma City, feeder steers and heifers were $1-$3 higher, calves were higher on a light test. In Mississippi auction markets feeder steers were $2-$5 higher, steer calves were $5-$15 higher, feeder heifers were steady to $4 higher, and heifer calves were $3-$12 higher. Slaughter cows in Mississippi sold steady to $1 higher and bulls were $1-$4 higher.
Live and feeder cattle futures started the week fairly steady. Then, on Wednesday, the market learned that Tyson Fresh Meats had sent a letter to feedlots stating they will no longer purchase cattle fed zilpaterol, the primary ingredient in Intervet’s Zilmax feed supplement, after September 6, 2013. Tyson indicated a recent influx of non-ambulatory cattle, which their animal health experts attributed to the supplement. They directly stated the stoppage was not linked to international trade, but given the flare up a few months ago related to beta agonists in cattle, this could be an underlying reason. Many live cattle futures contracts neared daily limits on Wednesday and Thursday due to the expectation that pulling Zilmax out of feedlot diets will reduce carcass weights and decrease beef supplies in the future. Feeder cattle had an opposite reaction to the news. Removing the supplement from feed will decrease the feeding efficiency of cattle and therefore make them less economical.
Prices continued their downward slide for corn this week. Favorable weather has helped to keep new crop corn and soybean conditions rated 60-65% good or excellent. Meanwhile, many producers continue to empty grain bins with the expectation of an abundant harvest this year. Corn harvest is expected to begin in parts of the Southeast over the next couple of weeks, which should add some supplies to the tight market. Monday’s supply and demand report (and crop production report) will be under the microscope as it will provide the first objective look at the nation’s summer crop potential, using field data from early test plots along with surveys and trend models.
Wholesale boxed beef prices moved higher and MIGHT have turned the corner (one week is too little evidence to say for sure and Select prices are still lower). Choice carcasses finished the week $1.24 higher at $187.92. Select’s slide continued though, finishing at $181.43, down $0.16.
Note: Unless noted otherwise, all prices quoted are dollars per hundredweight for cattle and beef and dollars per bushel for corn.