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Cattle futures lower ahead of on feed numbers

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were lower on follow through selling, getting ready for the USDA’s Cattle on Feed report. February was down $.37 at $119.72 and April was $.90 lower at $118.25.

Feeder cattle were down on the same factors as the live pit. March was $.60 lower at $140.20 and April was down $.42 at $142.10.

Direct cash cattle business was light and limited to the dressed basis. Sales to end the week ranged from $189 to $191 in Iowa and Nebraska, following the light to moderate activity earlier in the week. Wednesday’s trade was primarily in the south at mostly $119 to $120 live, generally steady to $1 higher than the previous week’s weighted average, with Thursday’s business mainly in the north at mostly $119 to $120 live, also steady to $1 higher, and $190 dressed, unchanged from the previous week. What was left on the showlist was priced $121+ live and $192 to $193 dressed with a few bids at $119 live. The Beef exports were 19,400 tons, mainly to Japan, South Korea, and Mexico, up 11% on the week, but down 10% from the four-week average. The USDA’s Cattle on Feed numbers were close to expectations and could be neutral, but placements were down in January, the first year over year decline since August 2019.

Boxed beef closed firm on light to moderate demand and offerings. Choice was up $.59 at $205.09 and Select was $.10 higher at $210.70. The estimated cattle slaughter of 121,000 head was up 10,000 on the week and 5,000 on the year.

For the week in Missouri, feeder steers and heifer were $5 to $10 higher, with instances of $10 to $20 higher on light to mid weight calves with the quality and condition to add weight quickly on grass or wheat pastures. The USDA says the supply was moderate to heavy and demand was good to very good. Feeder receipts topped 35,000 head, up on both the week and the year. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 500 to 600 pounds brought $144 to $199.50 and 600 to 700-pound steers ranged from $130 to $174.75. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds sold at $126 to $172 and 600 to 700-pound heifers were reported at $117 to $150.

The USDA says that in Iowa, supreme and premium alfalfa, alfalfa and grass mix, and grass prices were steady to firm, with all other grades steady. Supreme large squares of alfalfa sold at $250 to $335 with premium large squares of alfalfa and grass at $195 to $250 and premium large squares of grass at $175 to $260.

For Missouri, prices were steady with light to moderate demand for a moderate supply. Large rounds of supreme quality alfalfa were reported at $180 to $200 with premium at $160 to $180 and good quality at $120 to $160. Large rounds of good quality mixed grass hay brought $80 to $120 with fair to good at $60 to $80. Large rounds of good quality brome grass were pegged at $80 to $120.

In Nebraska, baled hay prices were unevenly steady to weak, while ground and delivered hay was $5 lower and alfalfa pellets were steady. The USDA says demand was sporadic, with the best demand for hay in large squares leaving the state. In eastern and central areas, good large squares of alfalfa brought $155. Good large rounds of prairie hay ranged from $90 to $100 with premium small squares at $170 to $180. 17% protein dehydrated alfalfa pellets were pegged at $320 to $330 with 15% protein sun-cured pellets at $300. In the Platte Valley, ground and delivered alfalfa was reported at $135 to $140 with ground and delivered alfalfa and corn stalk mix at $120 to $130 and ground and delivered corn stalks at $90 to $105. 17% protein dehydrated pellets sold at $270 to $285 with 15% protein sun-cured pellets at $250 to $270. In western Nebraska, supreme large squares of alfalfa brought $200 with good large squares at $160 to $175 and good large rounds at $150. Ground and delivered alfalfa was pegged at $153 to $158 with 15% protein sun-cured pellets at $255.

Lean hog futures were mostly lower on spread trade, the mixed cash during the session, and bearish weekly export numbers. April, the exception, was up $.15 at $67.02 and May was down $.45 at $74.02.

Cash hogs were steady to modestly lower with moderate closing negotiated sales. Buyers continued to watch the available numbers, margins, and demand signals. China didn’t buy any U.S. pork during the week ending February 13th, but shipments were solid at 15,000 tons. The spread of coronavirus is still a big question for demand. Overall, export sales of 23,700 tons were down 17% on the week and 22% from the four-week average, with Mexico, Japan, and Canada the top three purchasers. The USDA says red meat, pork, and beef production in January were monthly records, with Cold Storage numbers out Monday afternoon.

Pork closed $.56 higher at $65.00. Loins, butts, picnics, and hams were firm to sharply higher. Ribs and bellies were sharply lower. The estimated hog slaughter of 467,000 head was down 14,000 on the week and 7,000 on the year.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.08 lower at $45 to $53 with a weighted average of $49.70, while Iowa/Southern Minnesota was down $.32 at $49.28 and the Western Corn Belt was $.33 lower at $49.27. Illinois direct sows were steady at $17 to $26 with moderate to good demand for moderate offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $27 to $35 on moderate demand and offerings. Boars ranged from $5 to $20.

The USDA says early weaned pigs were $2 to $3 lower and all feeder pigs were $3 lower on light to moderate demand for moderate offerings. On the formula basis, prices on early weaned pigs were $40.50 to $47.49 with an average of $44.91, and on the cash basis, the range was $20 to $50 with an average of $38.60, for a weighted average of $41.71 on all early weaned pigs. Feeder pigs on the cash basis were reported at $52 to $65 with an average of $57.79.

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