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The Cattle Range Weekly Market Summary provides market data for the informed cattleman. Current industry news & commentary as well as a comprehensive comparison of the past week's prices from around the country in comparison to the previous week, month, 6 months ago, 1 year ago, & 5 year average.  The data is compiled from a variety of sources and is organized to provide insight in determining market movement and trends.
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SAMPLE... Market Summary for the week ending September 5th:
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  • Bullish: Beef 90s (90% lean trimmings) traded over $300.00 late this week, a record high.
  • Bearish: In August, the economy created just 142,000 jobs and the labor-force participation rate dipped to 62.8%. 
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The Cattle Range 10-Day Market Trend:
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An indicator of overall cattle market strength. The angle indicates direction & velocity of the trend.
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The Trendline is based on daily market factors for the last 10 days.
Each daily factor is the aggregate weighted total of the Gain/(Loss) for 10 major market indicators compared to the previous trading day.
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National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Weekly Summary:
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RECEIPTS:   Auctions   Direct  Video/Internet  Total
This Week     113,200     33,600         4,100        150,900 
Last Week     143,200     32,400        30,500        206,100 
Last Year       134,100     36,700         9,000        179,800
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Compared to last week, coming back after a long Holiday weekend and a very bumpy three weeks of feeder cattle trading lower, feeder cattle broke out of their recent downturn.  Yearling feeders sold mostly 5.00-8.00 higher with instances up to 10.00 higher, while calves on light trading sold fully steady to mostly 5.00 higher.  Feeders this week traded at some of their highest levels since early August.  Labor Day caused many Monday auctions to be closed, including the Oklahoma National Stockyards and Joplin Regional Stockyards.  Plus a number of Tuesday salebarns operating on light receipts.  But, a number of salebarns kicked off the start of the fall season with some very impressive sales. 

The Torrington, WY Livestock Commission Company held their annual Labor Day Special on Monday with nearly 5500 head on offer.  Included in their long list of impressive sales, over 300 head of 750-800 lb yearling steers with a weighted average weight of 787 lbs sold with a weighted price of 232.26 and 450-500 lb steer calves averaging 478 lbs traded with a weighted average price of 319.78.  In Bassett, NE on Wednesday at the Bassett Livestock Auction 300 head of 920-940 lb steers averaging 928 lbs sold with a weighted average prices of 224.76.  In St. Joseph, MO on Wednesday at the St. Joseph Stockyards 235 head of 700-750 lb steers with a weighted average weight of 722 lbs sold with a weighted average prices of 244.92.  Then in Valentine, NE on Thursday at the Valentine Livestock Auction sold 278 head of 820-850 lbs steers averaging 834 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 236.84. 

Over the past several weeks it’s been hard and often uncomfortable to discuss the price retreat from all-time record highs and wondering if we had hit our highs for the year.  But it’s also the law of nature that prices would fall back after this awesome run that feeder cattle have had.  Coming back after this Labor Day Weekend, cattle buyers came out in full force and very aggressive to purchase large strings of yearling cattle on offer this week.  Live and feeder cattle futures have had strong triple digit gains the past several trading sessions since late last week and continuing this week.  If the futures markets continue their rally to the upside this could get very interesting.  This was greatly influenced by the strength in cash prices paid late last week for slaughter cattle which traded mostly 2.00-3.00 higher. 

Strength in the fat cattle market carried over this week as sharply higher futures put feedlot managers in a bullish frame of mind as fat cattle prices exploded higher with trade in Kansas on Friday 8.00 higher than last week at 163.00 live.  In Nebraska some early sales on Friday traded 5.00-7.00 higher than last week at 162.00-163.00.  Boxed Beef is also coming of two solid weeks of very good to heavy volume movement.  There is simply a large desire to own levels of feeder cattle as the shear tightness in supply have buyers scrambling to purchase additional numbers of feeder cattle.  With corn yields looking very good and cheaper cost of gains many of these big yearlings in the Northern Plains have good weighing conditions and a purchasing fury to own these good cattle.   This week’s reported auction volume included 49 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.

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Stocker Steers:
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Feeder Steers:
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Five Year Moving Average - Stocker Steers, Feeder Steers, & Slaughter Steers:
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Selected Auction Reports:
"Click" on individual auction links for complete report
El Reno Cattle Narrative - El Reno OK
Receipts:  5324    Last Week:  3581    Year Ago:  3758
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers 5.00 to 6.00 higher.Feeder heifers sold 3.00 to 5.00 higher in a light test.  No trend available for steer and heifer calves due to limited comparable sales but a higher undertone noted.

Valentine Livestock Auction Market - Valentine NE
Receipts:  4140    Last Week:  0    Year Ago:  2835
No Recent test of market for an accurate comparison a trend will not be given for steers or heifers.

Tulia Livestock Auction - Tulia TX
Receipts:  1718    Last Week:  656    Year Ago:  872
Compared to last week's light receipts:  Feeder steers sold 1.00-2.00 higher on comparable sales.  Calves or feeder heifers were not well tested in previous sale. Slaughter cows and bulls were not well tested last week for a trend.

Cattleman's Livestock Auction - Dalhart, TX
Cattle and Calves: 706        Week ago: 759         Year Ago:  923
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers firm to 2.00 higher in a light test.  Slaughter cows and bulls firm to 2.00 higher.

Clovis Livestock Auction - Clovis NM
Receipts:  1276          Week Ago: 1047           Year Ago: 900
Compared to last month:  Holstein steers 400-600 lbs 17.00-20.00 higher. Compared to last week feeder steers and heifers 3.00-7.00 higher on comparable sales. Slaughter cows steady to 1.00 higher, bulls 1.00 lower.

Toppenish, WA Livestock Auction - Toppenish WA
Receipts:  1640    Last Week:  1640    Year Ago:  1385
Compared to last Thursday at same sale, stocker and feeder cattle firm to 10.00 higher. Trade very active with very good demand. Slaughter cows weak to 3.00 lower. Slaughter bulls 2.00-3.00 higher.

Farmers & Ranchers Livestock Commission Co. - Salina KS
Receipts:  1733    Last Week:  2794    Year Ago:  1495
Compared to last week: Steers 250-1050 lbs higher undertones noted in a limited supply. Heifers 700-750 lbs 6.00 higher; 750-1100 lbs not enough for a market test higher undertones noted; 700 lbs and under extremely limited supply with lower undertones noted.

Mitchell Livestock Wtd Avg Report - Mitchell SD
Receipts:  2869    Last Week:  1651    Year Ago:  4843
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers 750-800 lbs 5.00 to10.00 higher, 900-950 lbs 5.00 to 10.00 higher on a narrow comparison, 950-1000 lbs 2.00 to 3.00 higher.  Feeder heifers700-750 and 800-850 lbs 4.00 to 6.00 higher, 750-800 lbs mostly 2.00 to 4.00 higher with instances to 6.00 higher.

Weekly Auction Summaries:
"Click" on individual links for complete report
Tennessee Weekly Auction Summary
Receipts on 10 TN Auctions 4,743, 12 Last Week 6,500, 9 Last Year 5,700
Trends:  According to the Federal-State Market News Service, compared to the same sales one week ago, slaughter cows steady to 3.00 higher.  Slaughter bulls steady. Steers/bulls 2.00 to 8.00 higher. Heifers 1.00 to 5.00 higher.

Kentucky Weekly Livestock Summary
Receipts This Week 14,178, Last Week 17,232, Last Year 21,215
Compared to last week, Steer Calves below 600 lbs sold 3.00 to 5.00 lower with moderate demand on a plain to good quality offering, above 600 lbs steady to weak with light demand.  Heifer Calves below 500 lbs 3.00 to 5.00 lower with moderate to good demand, above 500 lbs steady to weak with moderate demand.  Yearling Steers sold 2.00 to 5.00 lower with instances to 10.00 lower and  limited comparison. Yearling Heifers were steady to weak on a light test.  Very hot and humid conditions this week slowed cattle movement and eased demand.  Slaughter Cows and Slaughter Bulls sold steady to 3.00 higher with good to very good demand.

Mississippi Weekly Livestock Summary
Cattle Receipts:    8,396       Last Week:     8,299       Last Year:   8,565
Compared to last week, slaughter cows sold 1.00 to 2.00 higher and bulls sold steady. Feeder steers sold steady to 5.00 higher and heifers sold steady.

Alabama Auctions Weekly Summary
Total estimated receipts this week 13,900, last week 15,913 and 17,689 last year.
Compared to one week ago: Slaughter cows and bulls sold steady to 3.00 higher. Replacement cows and pairs sold mostly steady. All feeder classes sold 3.00 to 5.00 higher.

Georgia Cattle Auctions Weekly Review
Cattle receipts at 25 markets 9,450 compared to 10,656 last week and 9,658 year ago.
Compared to one week earlier, slaughter cows 1.00 to 3.00 higher, bulls 2.00 to 3.00 higher, feeder steers and bulls steady to 3.00    higher, heifers mostly steady to 2.00 higher, steer calves 2.00 to 4 higher, bull calves steady to 3.00 higher, heifer calves unevenly steady to 3.00 higher, replacement cows mostly steady to 2.00 higher.

Direct Sales of Feeder & Stocker Cattle:
"Click" on individual links for complete report
AZ-CA-NV Weekly Feeder Cattle Review (Fri)
Confirmed: 7,755 
Compared to last week, Trade active, demand good.

Colorado Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
Receipts: 265        Last Week: 2177        Last Year:  2623
Compared to last week: Not enough comparable sales on feeder steers for an adequate market trend, but a higher undertone was noted.

Eastern Cornbelt Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Reported sales this week: 121    Last Week: 220    Last year: 0
Compared to last week: No trend available for feeder steers and heifers due to limited comparable sales.

IA-South MN Direct Feeder Cattle Weekly (Mon)
Receipts:  0    Last Week:  63    Year Ago:  70
Compared to last week, no feeder cattle reported for a market trend.

Kansas Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Receipts:  1853    Last Week:  2451    Year Ago:  2934
Compared with last week: Feeder steers and heifers sold 3.00 to 6.00 higher, which followed advancements recorded in the front month of the CME Feeder Cattle contract this week.

Montana Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
Receipts:  0    Last Week: 530    Year Ago:  0
Compared to last week:  No reported trades on feeder steers or heifers. 

New Mexico Feeder Cattle Report (Mon)
Confirmed:  0          Week Ago:  700       Year Ago: 1500 
Compared to last week:  No confirmed sales of feeder steers and heifers for a price trend.

Northwest Wtd Avg Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
Receipts:  2800    Last Week:  3750    Year Ago:  3350 
Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers steady to 5.00 higher.

Oklahoma Direct Feeder Cattle (Fri)
Receipts:  2741    Last Week:  2328    Year Ago:  0
Compared to last week: Feeder steers and heifers traded mostly 1.00 to 3.00 higher, following advancements recorded in the front month of the CME Feeder Cattle contract this week.

South Dakota Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Receipts: 0         Last Week: 0          Last Year: 0 
Compared to last week:  No reported trades on feeder steers or heifers.

WY, Western NE & Western Dakotas Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
Receipts: 1,406       Last Week: 2,128        Year Ago: 2,740
Compared to last week steers and heifers sold steady to firm.

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Cattle Futures:
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Cash strength spurred fresh CME cattle gains Friday. Beef packers paid up for fed cattle late this week, with the sizeable increase in bids apparently topping industry expectations. Talk of persistent seasonal strength probably added to the bullishness in the Chicago market. October live cattle futures jumped 2.70 cents to 159.75 cents/pound at their Friday close, while December futures leapt 2.43 to 160.92. Meanwhile, October feeder futures vaulted 2.37 cents to 224.37 cents/pound, and January feeders rallied 1.32 to 216.55.
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Representative Sales of Cow & Pairs:
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  • Joplin, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1  4-6 yrs 1285-1325 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 2500.00-2725.00.  Medium and Large 1-2  3 yrs to short solid mouth 2nd-3rd stage 1000-1350 lbs 1800.00-2100.00, 1st stage 975-1275 lbs 1600.00-1800.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium Large 1  3-5 yrs 1275-1300 lbs w/160-200 lb calves 2800.00-2950.00.  Medium and Large 1-2  5-7 yrs 1075-1200 lbs w/baby to 390 lb calves 2400.00-2600.00; short solid mouth pkg 1080 lbs w/300-350 lb calves 2050.00.  Medium 1-2  2 yrs 840-870 lb cows w/130-180 lb calves 2100.00-2200.00.
  • West Plains, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 985-1500 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 2000.00-2600.00, consignment 47 hd of 2 yrs 1000-1125 lbs blk heifers in 2nd-3rd stage 2800.00-2900.00;  7 yrs to short-solid 975-1260 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1700.00-1900.00.  Medium and Large 2  2-6 yrs 870-1350 lbs 1st-3rd stage 1750.00-2050.00.  Medium 2  3 yrs to broken-mouth 715-1090 lbs 1st-3rd stage 1100.00-1575.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 yrs 1010-1380 lbs w/150-300 lb calves 2300.00-2800.00, pkg 2 yrs 945 lbs blk 1st-2nd stage w/300 lb calves 3250.00.  Medium and Large 2  3-5 yrs 780-1125 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 1800.00-2000.00.
  • Booneville, MO
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  5-6 yrs 1100 lbs w/baby-175 lb calves 2575.00-2650.00; few 7 yrs to broken mouth cows 1150-1450 lbs w/baby to 175 lb calves 2000.00-2175.00.
  • Riverton, WY
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Young 950-1250 lbs 2200.00-2475.00, few 975-1145 lbs 1600.00-1750.00; Middle Aged (Short Solids) small package 1265 lbs 2100.00, few 1060-1255 lbs 1500.00-2000.00; Aged (Short Term) 1190-1305 lbs 1450.00-1525.00. 
    • Pairs: Medium-Large 1 Young package 1095 lbs w/225 lb calves 2850.00. 
  • Arkansas
    • Bred Cows;  Medium and Large 1-2 2-7 yrs 850-1250 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 160.00-170.00 cwt, 1725.00-1825.00; first stage/open 122.00-132.00 cwt; 7-10 yrs 800-1250 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 121.00-131.00 cwt; 1450.00-1550.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 yrs 800-1200 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 2150.00-2250.00, few to 2650.00; w/200-300 lb calves 2125.00-2225.00; 7-10 yrs w/100-200 lb calves 1625.00-1725.00. 
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Bred Cows & Heifers in 2nd & 3rd Stages of Pregnancy:
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The average prices above are from USDA market reports which seldom reference breed or quality.
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Top Sales of the Week on The Cattle Range - Reported SOLD by Seller
  • Reg. Angus Cows -- N Central - $3,500.00 per head
  • Brangus Baldy Bred Heifers -- S Central - 2,850.00 per head
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Canadian Cattle:
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Alberta Beef Producers:  Alberta direct cattle sales saw no new trade report. By the sounds of things bids have eased from the beginning of the week which has moderated selling interest. Sale volumes so far this week have been light. Tentatively basis levels are sitting weaker than last week. This might not be overly surprising as historically cash to cash and cash to futures basis levels do weaken from August to September.
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Canadian Weekly Cattle Report:
Provided by CanFax

Steers up

  • Packer competition was limited and inquiries were light last week, so some producers pulled cattle off the show list.
  • Light trade eventually surfaced with weighted average steer prices 50 cents higher than last week, at $160.48. Fed prices were relatively static, ranging from $160-$165 per hundredweight over the past eight weeks.
  • The Alberta fed cash to futures basis weakened to -6.37 but still remained stronger than the five-year historical average. Canadian fed exports to the United States for the week ending Aug. 16 totalled 8,137 head, the largest export week since May.
  • Year to date fed exports were one percent larger than in 2013, and western Canadian steer and heifer slaughter are up six and 13 percent, respectively, from last year.
  • Basis levels historically weaken from August to September, and September is traditionally the weakest basis month of the calendar year. With the U.S. fed kill down 7.5 percent over the past six weeks compared to 2013, there have been reports that U.S. feedlots are becoming less current in marketings.
  • Carcass weights compared to the same week last year show that western Canadian steer carcass weights are down nine pounds while U.S. steer weights are up 12 lb.
  • Canadian feedlots appear to be more current than those in the U.S. In four out of the last six years, western Canadian actual fed marketings have been larger in September than August.
  • On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the choice wholesale cut-out price slipped 34 cents per cwt. Aug. 28 to $247.07. Select fell $2.02 to $235.58.
  • Investors will monitor beef cut-out values for signs of a seasonal downtrend as shoppers switch from outdoor cookouts to preparing meals indoors.
Cows down
  • On the non-fed side, D1 and D2 cows were down $1.33 to $122.30. D3 cows traded at $110.08, while slaughter bulls were $138.95, up $2.41, and rail grade animals were in a range of $234-$239.
  • Slaughter for the week ending Aug. 23 rebounded 48 percent larger to 5,517 head. Year to date western non-fed slaughter was down six percent to 203,841 head. Canadian non-fed exports to the U.S. for the week ending Aug.16 were 12 percent larger than the previous week at 6,071, and year to date totalled 207,290 head.
Feeders steady
  • A moderate volume of Alberta feeders traded unevenly steady this week. Light stockers 300-500 lb. traded steady to $3 per cwt. higher while 500-600 lb. feeder prices slid $3 to $6 per cwt. lower. Steers over 600 lb. traded mostly steady to $1.50 per cwt. higher than the previous week while comparable heifers trended steady to $2 higher.
  • Harvest has diverted interest from the feeder market ,and a light to moderate show list of cattle was on offer. Eastern cattle buyers actively procured Alberta feeders last week and some will head to the U.S. Weekly Alberta auction volumes of 24,628 head were nine percent smaller than the previous week and 27 percent smaller than the same week last year.
  • Year to date auction volume of 783,739 head is five percent larger than last year. Canadian feeder exports to the U.S. for the week ending Aug. 16 surged 83 percent higher than the previous week to 3,915 head and were 78 percent larger than the same week last year.
Cow-calf pairs traded at $2,000 to $2,775
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Canadian Cattle Prices:
Prices have been converted to U.S. $/CWT.  Grades changed to approximate U.S. equivalents
Exchange Rate: Canadian dollar equivalent to $0.9189 dollars
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Prices for the week ending August 29th:
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Rebuilding U.S. Animal Industries:
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Everyone is familiar with the phrase, "What goes up must come down!" Grain prices seem to be following this old axiom, with substantial questions remaining of "how far down?" For U.S. animal product consumption the phrase could be reversed, "What goes down must come up!"

How much did meat consumption "go down?" In 2007, meat consumption per person in the U.S. was 219 pounds for the big four of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. Current USDA estimates for this year are down to 199 pounds per person, nearly a ten percent decrease in seven years. Out of the 20 pound total reduction, beef was down 11 pounds, pork was down five pounds, and chicken and turkey were down about two pounds each.  In percentage terms consumption of beef has been down 17 percent, followed by 10 percent for both pork and turkey and a more modest three percent for chicken.

Why would U.S. consumers be eating so much less meat? Some argue that diets have changed and U.S. citizens have made lifestyle changes that include less meat and that the new norm will be the current smaller per capita levels of consumption.   There is probably some truth to the lifestyle change hypothesis, but three other factors are more important.

The first of these is that retail meat prices had to rise sharply for animal producers to cover the much higher costs of feed from the 2006 to the 2012 crops. When feed prices rose, animal producer returns dropped toward losses. Over a period of years, those losses caused some liquidation of herds, which in turn reduced supply and increased consumer prices. Retail prices of beef and pork in 2014 are about 40 percent higher than in 2007. This rate of increase was about five percent per year, far above the general inflation rate. People simply eat less meat when prices rise quickly. Retail chicken prices, in contrast, were up a far smaller 18 percent since 2007.

High feed and forage prices forced a national beef cow reduction of 12 percent from 2007 to 2014. In addition to high feed costs, Southern Plains producers had the additional problem of widespread drought. As a result of the double-whammy, producers liquidated 21 percent of the beef cows in that region, which is the largest production region.

A third critical factor reducing U.S. consumption of meats is related to domestic and foreign incomes. Domestic incomes were under pressure in the financial crisis of late-2008 and 2009 setting off the "Great Recession" from which employment and consumer incomes are just now recovering. While U.S. consumers were under pressure, incomes in developing countries were rising. This caused U.S. meat exports to rise, pitting foreign consumers against domestic consumers for the limited U.S. meat supplies.

The next era for animal industries will be one of rebuilding herds and flocks. This will be a multiple-year process and will be characterized as a role reversal for the crops sector and the animal sector. If the years from 2007 to 2013 could be described as the "Grain Era" in which crop sector incomes had an extraordinary run, the coming period may be described as the "Animal Era" when producers of animal products have strong returns. During the "Grain Era" some resources like pasture land and forage production were converted to cash crop production. In the coming "Animal Era" there will be some incentive to convert cash crop land back to animal industry use. This will be most predominant for the marginal cash crop lands of the central and western Great Plains.

The three important causes of declining per capita consumption are shifting from negative to positive drivers. Feed prices are much lower, drought continues to abate in the Southern Plains, and the U.S. economy continues a slow but steady process of bringing more families back into the work force.

So, how much of the 20 pound per person reduction in meat consumption will the animal industries recover in coming years? The answer depends on the magnitude of the changes in the drivers. As an example, 219 pounds of meat consumption per person was based on a period when corn prices averaged about $2 a bushel and soybean meal $200 a ton. As feed prices re-set in the coming era, few believe feed prices will drop back to those low levels. Given current expectations for feed prices in coming years, a recovery of 10 to 12 pounds of the lost 20 seems like a reasonable estimate. This would mean a recovery from 199 pounds to near 210 pounds.

The animal industries finally have a positive multiple-year outlook. The favorable income prospects will be based on feed prices re-setting to lower levels, continued reductions in drought affected pastures, and to strengthening domestic incomes. Animal industries are expected to be in a mini-boom phase in coming years lead by rising per capita consumption, continued small growth in U.S. population, and growing export demand. An important determining force of how big the boom will be will depend to what level feed prices re-set?

This mini-boom phase for animal agriculture will be economically supportive to rural communities with strong animal populations. It will also stimulate economic activity in industries that supply, market, and process animal products including animal buildings and equipment, animal feed, haying and forage equipment, animal pharmaceuticals, and lending for animal expansion.

Chris Hurt -- Purdue University

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$15.50 Rally in 11 Trading Days; Third Time This Year:
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It happened in January, then in June and now in September, monster rallies, occurring in a relatively short time frame surging from $14.06 to $16.42 in under a month. And yesterday’s extremely volatile price action, as shorts and bear spreaders blew out of Oct LC, was done on huge volume, 129,874 contracts, not quite a record, ripping 10k contracts of OI out of Oct LC and leaving net OI down over 5k, only 2k off of the recent low, coming in at 307,874. 

For those of you who like records, only the $18+ rally in October 2003 remains in the number one spot of record rallies in 4 weeks or less, with the three 2014 performances following behind. If that doesn’t prove that despite the bizarre basis that up till now plagued this market, 2014 may go down as the greatest bull market year yet. 

No Sign of Fatigue 

Cattle futures may have gone from oversold to overbought in relatively short order and as we approach all time highs, many are issuing words of caution. Apparently, Oct LC can’t hear them just yet, as triple digits gains are being held in earnest this morning. The bull spreads continue to work, despite the calendar date and the pre-roll, roll and post-roll of Oct longs into Dec LC.

Back at the Ranch

Cash cattle trade thus far this week has been limited, with most activity occurring in the Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and eastern Nebraska mostly at $250 and $160. In western Kansas, basis cattle did trade earlier this week at +5 LCV, but what was as important was the number of packers interested in that string of cattle. The need to secure enough inventory and compete against one another continues to be one of the bullish drivers behind the fed cattle market. 

The other bullish driver is beef demand, as was mentioned here earlier this week, the last 2 weeks saw the
biggest total boxed beef movement of 2014 as reported by the USDA in the Comprehensive Boxed Beef report. Though we won’t get the report on this holiday shortened week until Monday, the spot sales this week have been very brisk on the heels of two already big weeks. 

Every time this year we get aggressive pull by end users for beef, we get a corresponding pull by packers for fed cattle. And when you remember that our beef production is historically small on a per capita basis, it’s easy to understand how sensitive prices are as buyers scramble for limited supplies- supplies that will continue to be “tight” for months to come. 

And Speaking of Tight

In case you missed it, beef 90s (90% lean ground beef) traded for an average $300.93 yesterday, another record.

What a Week 

Though this has been uttered a few times this year, this really has been one for the books. And if we closed the market right now, Oct LC would post the highest weekly close ever and only very slightly discount to what limited cash trade has occurred this week. How’s that for big change. 

The Beef

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Enthusiasm for Expansion Is High:
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Based on survey results conducted by BEEF Magizine, enthusiasm for expansion is high. When asked about plans in 2014-15 concerning their cowherd, 51.7% of respondents say they plan to expand by 1% to 10%; 19.4% plan to grow by 11% or more; and 17.1% plan to keep their herd size about the same.

Those results show a marked increase in optimism from the 2013 BEEF survey published in December. Then, 38% of respondents said they planned to stay with the same number of cows they carried in past years. Another 33.5% indicated they planned to expand by 1%-10%, and 13.4% planned to expand by 11% or more.

As we enter fall 2014, the “girls” will lead the charge as cattle producers restock. When those who plan to expand were asked how they will accomplish that, 84.2% said they’ll hold back heifers, while 36.7% say they’ll buy replacements. The numbers add up to more than 100% because some producers plan to do both. Only 12.8% plan to sell fewer cull cows, perhaps because there just aren’t many cull cows left to sell.

Those who plan to retain heifers from their 2014 calf crop will, as a general rule, keep quite a few. In fact, 36.1% indicate they’ll keep more than 20% of their 2014 heifer calves. The remainder are fairly evenly distributed, as 15.1% plan to keep 15% to 20% of their heifers; 14.4% plan to keep from 10% to 15%; 18.3% say they’ll keep back 5% to 10%; and 16.1% will keep 1% to 5%.

And why are cattle producers keeping heifers? Because the market is telling them to, according to 52.6% of respondents. In addition, more producers have pasture this year, with 46.7% saying the drought is over. Further, 18.4% say they bought or leased more land, and 15% are adding a partner or family member to the operation.

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Photo of the Week:
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  • 400 Angus & Angus Cross Cows... Western NE* FD
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    Shootin' the Bull:
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    In my opinion, where traders tend to flock to volatility, producers and purveyor's tend to avoid it.  In this particular environment of cattle trading, it is perceived that the volatility of price movement is creating significant risks for producers and purveyor's.  While the current marketing price is perceived advantageous for sellers, the future does not currently hold the same appeal. 

    One is that all newly acquired inventory is being traded at the historical high.  The other is that live and feeder futures are significantly discounted.  Couple that with the carry charge in the corn market and it is perceived that everything done at present is exposing producers to immense risk of "bettin' on the come".  The near 20% loss of open interest in the live cattle and 17% loss in feeder cattle futures is perceived as one of the reasons for such significant volatility.  This volatility is not anticipated to decrease anytime soon.  Option premiums remain inflated and that too adds further challenges to have to overcome. 

    This week, I recommended completing any sales that had been left open using at the money put options.  Since prices have tended to stall in this area in the past, I perceived it as an opportunity to capture current known high end that may, or may not be, available in the future.  There is little to discuss that I know of.  The near hyper volatility changes the pricing landscape so quickly that comments made tend to either exaggerate or diminish the best laid plans. 

    Corn made new contract lows this week.  I anticipate that a great deal of the "bettin' on the come" is going to be corn trading lower.  With so much perception being the huge crop, no storage, wide basis, and rail logistics, it is interesting that corn isn't already under $3.00. 

    On October 1st, implementation of CFTC rule 1.22 will begin. Simply stated, this regulation requires FCM's to use their own funds to cover the margin calls of customers who fail to meet their calls on the day the call is issued. What this means is that margin calls should be met on the day the call is issued. I urge users of futures and options to make arrangements to avoid potential problems with the implementation of this rule.  If you have questions or would like additional information concerning this, contact me and I will be glad to assist. 

    Christopher B. Swift is a commodity broker and consultant with Swift Trading Company in Nashville, TN. Mr. Swift authors the daily commentaries "mid day cattle comment" and "Shootin' the Bull" commentary found on his website @ www.shootinthebull.com

    An investment in futures contracts is speculative, involves a high degree of risk and is suitable only for persons who can assume the risk of loss in excess of their margin deposits.  You should carefully consider whether futures trading is appropriate for you in light of your investment experience, trading objectives, financial resources and other relevant circumstances. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT NECESSARILY INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS.

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    The Saga of Bart -- Trials & Tribulations of a Cattle Buyer
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    Bart was in Las Vegas and was surprised to see his attorney in a casino.

    In the course of their conversation, the lawyer asked Bart how he managed to be in Vegas when only a few weeks ago, he was in dire financial straits.

    Bart replied, "Remember that real estate my wife inherited? Well, it caught on fire, so I came out here with some of the insurance money.  What are you doing here?"

    The lawyer replied, "I have a cabin down on the river. The river got up and I'm here courtesy of the flood insurance."

    Looking first thoughtful and then puzzled, Bart asked, "How in the Hell do you start a flood?"

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    Submit a "Bart Joke"  If we use it, you'll receive a $25.00 Gift Certificate to The Cattle Range Mercantile.
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    Americans’ Taste for Beef Continues, Even at High Prices:
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    Americans continue to have a large appetite for beef, and it maintains its place on their grocery lists, even as prices have soared to record highs this year. According to Kansas State University Agricultural Economist Glynn Tonsor, in the second quarter – April through June – was the best quarter for beef and pork demand in 10 years. “This is better than expected, especially in view of historically high prices,” he said. “Prices have been up 10 percent, and people are still buying beef.”

    Tonsor said beef demand in 2014 was stronger than in 2013, and stronger than most industry watchers expected. The quarterly forecasts by the Livestock Marketing Information Center projected the average 2014 price for slaughter-ready steers in the five primary cattle markets at $152.00 to $154.00 per hundredweight, up 21.5 percent from the average of $125.88 in 2013. The average price in 2015 is projected at $157.00 to $161.00, which if realized, would be a 3.9 percent increase from 2014.

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    Margin between the Choice Boxed Beef Cutout & Feeder Steers:
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    5 Year Average: $45.89 --- This Week: $27.95
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    Out of Kilter:
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    A good way to determine if something is, “going on” in a market is by noticing when market relationships are out of kilter. Cattle and grains typically have a positive correlation. They tend to move in tandem. Moderately increase the price of corn and the cattle will follow suit. The opposite is also true as the cost of feed declines, so does the cost of production. However, when this relationship breaks down, its because one market can't keep pace or pass on the costs of the other. 

    That is what occurred in the spring of 2012 with cattle and corn. The price of feed exceeded the livestock market's ability to pass on the costs.  Over the 2013 summer months, the gap was erased and corn went "Out of Kilter" last fall.  A correction started in January but ran out of steam in view of surging cattle prices and plummeting corn prices.

    Normally, the value of 25 bushels of corn is approximately equal to the price per cwt. for feeder steers.

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    5 Year Moving Average:
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    Crude/Cattle Correlation:
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    The chart below shows a fairly consistent correlation between the price for a barrel of crude oil and the per cwt. price for slaughter cattle.  Since it is unlikely the price of cattle affects the price of oil on the world market, it might be assumed the price of crude oil affects the price of cattle, but that is unlikely as well.  It is more likely that economic factors affecting demand for crude oil have a similar effect on demand for beef.

    Accordingly, in the absence of geo/political events disrupting or distorting oil supply, since price trends occur slightly sooner in the crude oil market, crude oil has been a good indicator of the direction of near term cattle prices. However, with increased supplies of crude oil and decreased supplies of slaughter cattle, an "Out of Kilter" situation between the two commodities has developed.

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    5 Year Moving Average:
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    Submit Comments to Stop EPA’s WOTUS Rule:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) have proposed a rule to expand federal authority over non-navigable waters, defining almost all waters, regardless of size or continuity of flow, as “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS).

    This proposed rule usurps state authority, infringes up on the property rights of farmers and ranchers and amounts to one of the largest ever land-grabs by the federal government.

    "Click Here" to help “Ditch the Rule” by submitting comments to EPA and the Corps opposing the proposal.

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    Slaughter Cows & Bulls:
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    Slaughter cows steady to 3.00 higher. Slaughter bulls 2.00-3.00 higher. 

    USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was 235.26 -- Up 1.56 from last Friday.

                 %Lean    Weight     Montana         Oklahoma       Alabama
    Breakers   75-80%   1100-1600  112.00-118.50  130.00-132.00  110.00-115.00
    Boners      80-85%   1000-1450  110.00-114.00  124.50-132.50  112.00-117.00
    Lean         85-90%   1000-1300  105.00-110.00  121.00-124.00  100.00-104.00
    Bulls         88-92%   1300-2500  132.00-136.50  148.00-150.00  126.00-134.00

    Negotiated Sale of Packer Cows & Bulls:

                      Confirmed  Week Ago   Year Ago  Week to Date   Week Ago   Year Ago
    NATIONAL        6,523      6,012         9,500         27,898          31,446        36,554
    S CENTRAL      1,160      1,323          2,002          6,386            7,621          8,319
    N CENTRAL        398          434            969          1,754            1,524          2,667
    EAST              2,362       2,005         2,048           8,255          10,273          9,602
    WEST             1,330       1,343         2,309           6,202            7,098          8,657
    MIDWEST        1,273         907         2,172           5,301            4,930          7,309

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    Weekly Hay Reports:"Click" on links for detailed report
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    Weekly Feedstuffs Market Review:
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    The USDA Market News Service reports feed ingredient prices for the week ending September 02, were mixed.
    • Soybean Meal was 31.40 to 65.40 higher. Cottonseed Meal was steady to 25.00 higher. Canola Meal was 49.30 to 53.10 higher.  Linseed Meal was 5.00 higher in limited trade.  Sunflower Meal was steady to 5.00 higher. 
    • Whole Cottonseed was mixed, 19.00 lower to 20.00 higher.
    • Crude Soybean Oil was 58 to 108 points lower.  Crude Corn Oil was steady. 
    • Ruminant Meat and Bone Meal was mixed, 15.00 lower to 15.00 higher.  Ruminant Blood Meal was steady to 25.00 higher.  Feather Meal was steady to 35.00 lower, mostly steady to 15.00 higher. Menhaden Fishmeal was steady. 
    • Corn Hominy was mixed, 5.00 lower to 5.00 higher. Corn Gluten Feed was mixed, 25.00 lower to 25.00 higher.  Corn Gluten Meal was mixed, 5.00 lower to 5.00 higher. 
    • Distillers Dried Grains were mixed, 10.00 lower to 15.00 higher. 
    • Wheat Middlings were mixed, 10.00 lower to 7.00 higher.

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    Est. Weekly Meat Production Under Federal Inspection:
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    Total red meat production under Federal inspection for the week ending Saturday, September 06, 2014 was estimated at 802.6 million lbs. according to the U.S.Department of Agriculture's Marketing Service. This was 10.7 percent lower than a week ago and 7.8 percent lower than a year ago.  Cumulative meat production for the year to date was 4.1 percent lower compared to the previous year.
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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus:
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    The theory behind the "Bullish/Bearish Consensus" indicator is when the public reaches a consensus, they are usually wrong:
    • They get too bullish after prices have risen, and too bearish after they have already fallen.
    Because of this tendency, there are often extremes in opinion right before major changes in trend:
    • When the public reaches a bullish extreme, i.e., a great majority thinks prices will keep rising, then prices often decline instead. 
    • And when they become too bearish, then prices tend to rise.
    So when Public Opinion moves above the red dotted linein the chart, it means that compared to other readings over the past year, you're seeing a statistically extreme value.  You also want to look at the absolute level of Opinion, too - if it's at 90%, then there's no question we're seeing an historic level of bullish opinion.  Watch for readings above 80% (or especially 90%) to spot those dangerous times when the public is overly enthusiastic about a commodity.

    Conversely, when Public Opinion moves below the green dotted line, then the public is too pessimistic about the commodity's prospects for further gains compared to their opinion over the past year.  Looking for absolute readings under 20% (or especially 10%) often indicates an upturn in the market.

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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus - Cattle
    Last Updated: September 2nd
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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus - Corn
    Last Updated: September 2nd
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    National Economic News:
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    S&P 500 narrowly manages fifth weekly gain: A late rally Friday pushed the large-cap benchmarks into positive territory, but stocks moved lower for most of the week as some traders appeared to harvest gains after a month of market advances. The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite performed worse than the broad large-cap indexes, weighed down in part by a sharp midweek decline in Apple. The tech giant has a nearly 9% weighting in the benchmark. The S&P MidCap 400 Index was roughly flat, while the Russell 2000 Index of small-cap stocks recorded a modest loss.

    Both manufacturing and service sectors are strong: The week's economic data was generally favorable, although it failed to drive markets and ended on a somewhat down note. On Tuesday, the first day of trading following the Labor Day holiday, the Institute for Supply Management announced that its gauge of factory activity increased to its highest level in over three years in August. On Thursday, the group revealed that its measure of activity in the larger service sector not only increased as well, but also reached its best level since inception in January 2008. According to Thomson Reuters, components of the report with longer time series indicated that the service sector was in its best shape since August 2005.

    But job creation falls short of expectations:  Hopes that more activity in the manufacturing and service sectors would translate into significant job gains were dashed somewhat on Friday, as the Labor Department announced that employers had created only 142,000 jobs in August. The increase was well below expectations, and it will stand as the worst performance of the year through August if the figure is not revised significantly upward in the October report. As with the positive data early in the week, however, the disappointment appeared to have only a modest impact on investor sentiment.

    • Hiring in the United States slowed in August as the economy created just 142,000 jobs, marking the smallest gain since December. Economists had expected an increase of 228,000 nonfarm jobs. Employment fell in the auto industry and retailing, but most other sectors added workers, the government said Friday. The unemployment rate fell a tick to 6.1% to match a six-year low. More people found work, but more Americans (64,000) also dropped out of the labor force. The labor-force participation rate dipped to 62.8% from 62.9%. 
    Fed fears diminish for some: Indeed, some investors appeared to interpret the employment data as a positive sign for stocks, as it made it less likely that the Fed would soon raise interest rates. Speculation that the Fed would act sooner rather than later had increased in recent weeks, due both to stronger data and statements from some officials. Falling Treasury yields in response to payrolls data provided a particular boost to utilities stocks, which are typically viewed as alternatives to bonds due to their high and relatively stable dividend payments.

    Cease fire in Ukraine also boosts sentiment: Favorable news from Ukraine may have also helped spur a late rebound in the markets. On Friday morning, investors received news that Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists had signed a ceasefire accord, helping ease concerns over the escalating conflict that had weighed on markets in recent weeks.

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    Risk of Persistent Drought May Be Underestimated:

    State-of-the-art climate models may be underestimating the risk of drought lasting a decade in the Southwest U.S., according to a new study that suggests the chance of such a prolonged dry spell may be at least 80 percent, reports Meatingplace. Climate model projections currently put the risk of a decade-long drought at less than 50 percent, but according to scientists, those models omit certain observational data on hydro-climate fluctuations that may provide a more complete view of prolonged drought risk.

    Authors of the study say that when that data is included, the risk of a persistent drought may be higher than 90 percent in some areas, and the likelihood of a drought lasting more than 35 years is between 20 and 50 percent. They say the risk of an unprecedented 50-year mega-drought is between 5 and 10 percent.

    “These findings are important to consider as adaptation and mitigation strategies are developed to cope with regional impacts of climate change, where population growth is high and multi-decadal mega-drought would pose unprecedented challenges to water resources in the region,” study authors wrote. 

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    "Click Here" to view a Slide Show of Drought Monitor maps for the last 12 weeks
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    Looking Ahead:
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    • The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for moderate-to-heavy rainfall accumulations (two-to-five inches) across the Desert Southwest, Southern Rockies, Central Plains, Upper Midwest, Southeast, and lower Mid-Atlantic regions. Late in the period, a plume of subtropical moisture is forecasted to move into the Southwest bringing potentially heavy rains. In the Far West, dry conditions are forecasted to persist across California, the Great Basin, and most of the Pacific Northwest.
    • The 6–10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across the Far West, Southern Plains, South, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic while below-normal temperatures are forecasted across the Central Rockies, Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and New England. Temperatures across much of Alaska, including western, south-central, and southeastern regions are forecasted to be above normal. Regarding precipitation across the conterminous U.S., a high probability of above-normal precipitation is expect across the Southwest and the eastern half of the U.S. Below-normal precipitation is expected across the Pacific Northwest and western Alaska while precipitation in southeastern Alaska and the eastern half of Interior Alaska is forecasted to be above normal for the period.
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    Looking for the "Coming Wall" of Cattle:
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    In May of this year, the analysts reminded us that heavy placements the first few months of 2014 would be coming to market in June. Most forecasts called for the market to fall into the $130s for fed cattle. June arrived and the additional numbers never materialized but the forecasters moved the arrival date to July then August and now September.

    There is some evidence of a lack of currentness in the pool of available fed cattle for sale. Carcass weights have been steadily moving higher than prior year since early July. They currently are 10-15# above last year. The additional carcass weight adds about 5% more beef to the tonnage than last year but still leaves overall tonnage well short of last year.

    Some of the marketing of heavier cattle is by choice and not because cattle are backing up in the feedyards. Feeders are hesitant to sell the current cattle and replace with high priced feeders requiring at least $165 for a breakeven. On an absolute basis, many pens are being sold each week with no replacement cattle put back.

    This past week signaled the thought that there may not be a wall of cattle in September or anytime soon for that matter. Talk is cheap and packer buyers who have been carrying the message of larger supplies in September, may find sellers unimpressed. Our recent cattle on feed report featured the last of a long string of reduced placements that should keep cattle on feed at historically small numbers into the foreseeable future.

    The fuel for this year's upsurge in fed prices is the status of the nation's breeding herd. The cow calf operators are not selling cows. The upcoming wall of cattle won't be in the feedlots for a while but as breeders place cows in every nook and cranny across the nation, there will be more stockers and feeders before you know it. The breeding herd has ramped up like no other cycle in the history of the business. Next year will feature the beginning of increasing supplies of stocker and feeder cattle and when the numbers start they will be large.

    Ag Center Cattle Report

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    Feedyard Closeouts: Profit/(Loss)
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    • Typical closeout for steers sold this week & hedged when placed on feed: ($153.26)
    • Typical closeoudot for un-hedged steers sold this week: $182.12
    • Projected closeout based on the futures & estimated Cost of Gain for steers placed on feed this week: ($17.91)
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    Slaughter Cattle:
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    Friday in the Texas Panhandle and Colorado available negotiated cash sales has been very limited. In the Texas Panhandle a few live sales have sold at 163.00 and in Colorado a few live sales have sold at 160.00. In Kansas trading has been moderate with moderate to good demand. Compared to last week live sales have sold mostly 8.00 higher at 163.00. Thus far for Friday in Nebraska trading has been limited on light demand. A few live sales have sold from 160.00 to 163.00 and dressed sales have sold from 250.00 to 252.00. The last fully established market was last week with live sales from 155.00 to 158.00 and dressed sales at 245.00. In Iowa/Minnesota so far for Friday trading has been moderate on moderate to good demand. Compared to last week live sales have sold 3.00 to 5.00 higher from 158.00 to 160.00. Dressed sales sold 5.00 higher mostly at 250.00.
     
    Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection:
                                            CATTLE     CALVES   HOGS           SHEEP
    Friday 09/05/2014      (est)   116,000      2,000      410,000         7,000
    Week ago (est)                    114,000      2,000      330,000         5,000
    Year ago (act)                      123,000      4,000      428,000         7,000
    Week to date (est)                474,000    10,000   1,646,000        34,000
    Same Period Last Week (est) 574,000    10,000   1,975,000        36,000
    Same Period Last Year (act)  507,000     14,000   1,729,000        35,000

    Saturday 09/06/2014    (est)   44,000         0           134,000         0
    Week ago (est)                      10,000         0               4,000         0
    Year ago (act)                        68,000         0           255,000        1,000
    Week to date (est)                518,000    10,000     1,780,000       34,000
    Same Period Last Week (est) 584,000    10,000      1,979,000      36,000
    Same Period Last Year* (act) 575,000    14,000     1,983,000       36,000
    2014 Year to Date             20,502,000   404,000   70,706,000   1,435,000
    2013 *Year to Date           22,058,000   507,000   74,687,000   1,445,000
    Percent change                  -7.1%       -20.3%        -5.3%          -0.7%

    Negotiated prices paid for Slaughter Steers and Heifers:

    Live basis:            Steers                              Heifers
    Over 80% Choice    158.00-162.00 avg 160.39   156.00-163.00 avg 160.33
    65 - 80% Choice     159.00-163.00 avg 160.87   159.00-163.00 avg 161.24
    35 - 65% Choice     162.00-163.00 avg 162.97   162.00-163.00 avg 162.78
    0 - 35% Choice                 -                                       - 
    Total all grades   158.00-163.00 avg 161.73   156.00-163.00 avg 161.39

    Dressed basis 
    Over 80% Choice    248.00-252.00 avg 251.13   252.00-252.00 avg 252.00
    65 - 80% Choice     250.00-252.00 avg 251.26   250.00-252.00 avg 250.51
    35 - 65% Choice               -                                       - 
    0 - 35% Choice                 -                                       - 
    Total all grades    248.00-252.00 avg 251.23   250.00-252.00 avg 250.77

     

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    Corn Crop Condition:
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    According to the USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report, 74 percent of the country’s corn is rated in good or excellent condition, up by 1 percentage point from last week’s report and 18 percentage points higher than last year’s report.  Looking at historical data, the 2014 corn crop conditions are the best seen since 1994:

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    National Grain Summary:
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    Grains all closed higher to end the week, helped by buying support and possible early frost warnings in the North-Central U.S.
    Corn Futures Summary: Cool weather forecasts may have boosted the crop markets. Concerns about weekend events in the Black Sea region probably gave the grain markets an upward bias today. Traders also seemed to be reacting to cool weather forecasts, since a mid-September frost in northern Corn Belt could hurt corn and bean production. December corn futures closed up 9.5 cents at $3.56/bushel Friday afternoon, while May added 8.75 to $3.77.

    Soybean Futures Summary: The soy complex ended the week on a strong note. The prospect of a massive U.S. soybean crop weighed heavily upon bean and meal futures at midweek. However, Thursday night talk of capping Russian wheat exports also seemed to support the soy complex, as did concerns about a mid-September frost in the northern Corn Belt. November soybean futures advanced 18.25 cents to $10.215/bushel as Friday’s CBOT session wound down, while October soyoil ran up 0.28 cents to 32.28 cents/pound, and October soymeal gained $6.4 to $357.3/ton.

    Wheat Futures Summary: Russian talk likely supported wheat prices. The wheat markets rallied Thursday night in response to a report, later denied, that Russian officials are considering a cap on wheat exports. Bulls may also have been buying ahead of weekend events in the Ukraine-Russia situation and in response to talk that spring wheat quality is deteriorating. December CBOT wheat settled 5.0 cents higher at $5.3525/bushel Friday, while December KC wheat climbed 8.25 cents to $6.285/bushel, and December MWE wheat bounced 3.5 to $6.115.

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    Five Year Moving Average - Corn & Wheat
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    Your Suggestions:
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