After Thursday’s activity, cash cattle business may be wrapped up for the week. Trade volume was no better than moderate, but with margins looking the way they do, widespread business could be over. Live trade in the South was mostly at $127, steady with last week, and dressed trade in the North was mainly at $197 to $198, steady to $1 higher. DTN says around 8,000 to 9,000 head traded in Texas, about 22,000 head traded in Kansas, and Nebraska sales totaled roughly 27,000 head. The cattle left on the showlist are priced around $128 in the South and $200+ in the North with bids in Nebraska at $197 to $198 on the dressed basis.
DTN reports it looks like cattle carcass weights have seen their seasonal tops. For the week ending October 13, all cattle averaged 799 pounds, down 3 on the week but still up 18 on the year. Steers averaged 880 pounds, steady with a week ago and 23 heavier than a year ago. Heifers averaged 800 pounds, 7 lower than last week but 10 higher than last year.
Boxed beef at midday was sharply lower. Choice continued to back off from near ten year highs, down $1.89 at $197.48, while Select was $1.28 lower at $181.27. Friday’s slaughter is projected at 118,000 head, which would be up on the week but down on the year.
At the Valentine Livestock Auction in Valentine, Nebraska, feeder steers were $6 to $7 lower with feeder heifers steady. Demand was good for red Angus replacement heifers with a few new buyers noted. Receipts of 4,340 head were 59% steers and 41% heifers, and 11% weighed more than 600 pounds. 501 to 597 pound feeder steers ranged from $156 to $169. 514 to 592 pound feeder heifers sold at $144 to $159 and 500 to 513 pound replacement heifers ranged from $165 to $172.
Here at the end of the week, hog buyers are continuing to press their leverage, and given the way trade has gone this week, could see significant business once again. Traders remain cautious about pork demand as we get close to Thanksgiving and market ready numbers remain ample. Processing margins look good and estimates for Saturday’s slaughter are around 215,000 head.
The National Direct market opened $2.06 lower on the carcass basis at $78.95 to $81.50 for a weighted average of $79.50 and the Eastern Cornbelt is down $1.25 at $78.95 to $81 for an average of $79.40. The Western Cornbelt and Iowa/Southern Minnesota were not reported due to confidentiality.
Butcher hogs at the terminal markets are steady to $1 lower with tops at $53 to $58. Missouri Direct butcher trade is steady at $76 to $78 with supply and demand both called light to moderate. Missouri Direct sows are steady at $46 to $52. Illinois Direct sows are mostly steady to $1 higher at $41 to $53 with moderate to good demand and light to moderate offerings.
The University of Missouri and USDA report total hog slaughter for the week ending October 13 was up 3%, with the sow slaughter increasing 3.5%, and the proportion of gilts in the total slaughter against a year ago up 0.4%.
Pork trade at midday was at a standstill. Fresh retail and processing cuts were not tested. Today’s slaughter is projected at 426,000 head; that would be above both a week ago and a year ago.
East Coast producers and processors are keeping close watch on Hurricane Sandy with the storm expected to hit the Northeast early next week.