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Cattle futures mostly lower ahead of On Feed numbers

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live and feeder cattle were mostly lower watching direct business develop and waiting on Friday’s On Feed numbers.  April live cattle closed $.57 higher at $188.37 and June lives closed $.27 lower at $184.50.  April feeder cattle closed $.30 lower at $254.62 and May feeders closed $.72 lower at $358.07.

It was an active Thursday for direct cash cattle business as packers aggressively competed for fed cattle.  Deals in the South were at $188 live, that’s $2 higher than the previous week’s business.  In the North, some dressed business was marked at $302, $4 higher than the prior week’s weighted average basis. Heifers at a regional in Iowa brought $304 with delivery marked for mid-April. There were also some live deals at $190.  A few things of note: Cattle on Feed numbers come out Friday, and a minor fire broke out at the National Beef Plant in Liberal, Kansas, which shut down processing for the day. The plant is assessing damages and preparing to restart production.

At the Mitchell Livestock Auction in South Dakota, feeder steers 800 to 950 pounds were $2 to $5 lower and feeder heifers 800 to 900 pounds were steady to $4 lower.  The USDA says demand was good.  Receipts were down on the week and the year.  Feeder supply included 58% steers and 98% of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 900 to 934 pounds brought $225 to $234.25 and feeder steers 952 to 983 pounds brought $226.50 to $228.50.  Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 852 to 892 pounds brought $215 to $220.85 and feeder heifers 906 to 947 pounds brought $208.25 to $220.35. 

Boxed beef closed higher with solid demand for moderate offerings.  Choice was $.29 higher at $313.73 and Select was $1.02 higher at $303.73.  The Choice/Select spread is $10.00. Estimated cattle slaughter was 117,000 head – down 5,000 on the week and down nearly 8,000 on the year. 

Lean hog futures were mixed on spread trade with pressure from that lower move in pork.  April lean hogs closed $.40 lower at $84.90 and May lean hogs closed $1.07 lower at $89.90. 

Cash hogs closed lower with a moderate negotiated run. While processors pulled back in their procurement efforts on Thursday, overall, the cash hog market has shown some strength recently.  The industry continues to monitor hog weights, the availability of market-ready hogs, and the overall demand picture. On the demand front, this week’s export sales report from the USDA showed a solid week for pork exports, which indicates global demand for US pork remains strong.  That helps provide price support.  Domestic demand has been showing some strength as well. Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct closed $.94 lower with a base range of $73 to $82 and a weighted average of $80.30; the Iowa/Minnesota had no comparison with a weighted average of $80.86; the Western Corn Belt closed $.82 lower with a weighted average of $80.32.  Prices at Eastern Corn Belt were not reported due to confidentiality. 

Butcher hog prices at the Midwest cash markets are steady in Dorchester, WI and Garnavillo, IA at $60 and higher in Red Oak, IA is at $52. At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were steady with moderate demand for moderate to heavy offerings at $50 to $62.  Barrows and gilts were steady with moderate demand or moderate offerings at $43 to $53.  Boars ranged from $15 to $25 and $8 to $15. 

Pork values closed lower – down $.10 at $92.08. Ribs and bellies were sharply lower.  Loins were lower.  Butts, hams, and picnics were higher. Estimated hog slaughter was 490,000 head – up 17,000 on the week and down nearly 2,000 on the year. 

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