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Cattle mostly higher, hogs mixed ahead of USDA reports

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live and feeder cattle were mostly higher ahead of Friday’s Cattle on Feed report.  The report confirmed fewer slaughter-ready cattle in 2023 and are friendly to prices.

There was a follow-up round of direct cash cattle trade that took place on Friday.  For the week, live deals in the South were at $155 to $156, steady to $1 higher than the prior week’s business.  Dressed business in the North was at mostly $249, $1 higher than the previous week’s weighted average basis in Nebraska.

In Southwest Missouri last week, steers were $5 to $8 lower, and heifers were $2 to $5 lower.  Slaughter cows were steady to $6 higher and slaughter bulls were steady to $2 higher.  Feeder supply included 60% steers and 64% of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 650 to 671 pounds brought $173 to $181 and feeder steers 812 to 848 pounds brought $171.50 to $178.75.  Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 600 to 637 pounds brought $161 to $168 and feeder heifers 705 to 740 pounds brought $162 to $164. 

At the Nebraska Hay Market this past week, alfalfa, grass hay, ground and delivered products, and alfalfa pellets sold steady.  Demand has increased as temperatures have dropped and there’s been light to moderate snow cover.  Alfalfa, good, large rounds brought $200 to $230.  Alfalfa, ground, brought $285.  Prairie/Meadow grass, premium, small squares brought $9.  Prairie/Meadow grass, good, large rounds brought $200 to $210.  In the East, Alfalfa, pellets 15%, suncured brought $410.  Pellets 17%, dehydrated, brought $420.  In the Platte Valley region, alfalfa, good, large rounds brought $220.  Alfalfa, ground, brought $285.  Pellets 17%, dehydrated brought $360.  In the West, alfalfa, premium/supreme, large rounds brought $245.  Alfalfa, good, large squares brought $260.  Alfalfa, ground, brought $275.  Corn stalks, round bales, brought $95. 

Boxed beef closed sharply higher on solid demand for light offerings.  Choice was $6.74 higher at $271.95 and Select was $3.66 higher at $245.47.  The Choice/Select spread is $26.48.  Estimated cattle slaughter was 104,000 head – down 15,000 on the week.  Saturday’s estimated kill is 3,000 head – down 17,000 on the year. 

Lean hog futures were mixed ahead of Friday’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report.  There is some support in the near term given the market-hog inventory, with pressure on prices later in 2023, given breeding inventory and farrowing intentions. 

Cash hogs were not reported due to confidentiality.  There were several factors that pushed back against any big trade for the week, the long-holiday weekend, Winter Storm Elliott, and Friday’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report.  Processors weren’t aggressive at all in their procurement efforts.  Prices reflected and movement reflected that.   The five-day rolling average for barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct is $79.66, it’s $80.10 at the Iowa/Minnesota, and at the Western Corn Belt it’s $80.13.

According to the USDA’s Weekly Feeder Pigs report, early-weaned pigs and all feeder pigs were $1 to $2 higher.  Demand was good on moderate offerings.  The weighted average for all early-weaned pigs was $55.95 and the weighted average for all feeder pigs was $73.80. 

At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were steady with light demand for light offerings at $39 to $51.  Barrows and gilts were steady with moderate demand for moderate offerings at $56 to $66.  Boars ranged from $15 to $20 and $10 to $13. 

Pork values closed higher – up $3.30 at $92.06.  Bellies were sharply higher.  Picnics and hams were higher.  Ribs were firm.  Loins and butts were weak to lower. Estimated hog slaughter was 96,000 head – down 353,000 on the week and up 49,000 on the year.  Saturday’s estimated kill is 3,000 head – down 204,000 on the week.

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