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Weekly Market Summary
For the week ending April 21, 2017
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The Cattle Range Market Trendlines:
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The market continues its upswing with nearly all indicators moving in favorable directions. No market goes up forever but most news is favorable.  Strong demand for beef and lower carcass weights for slaughter cattle are of special significance and support continued price improvement in the short-term.
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10 Day Market Trendline
Change from Previous Day: +1.22%
 Change from 10 Days Ago: +15.53%
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The Trendlines are indicators of overall cattle/beef market strength and are based on daily market factors.  Each daily factor is the aggregate weighted total of the Gain/(Loss) for 12 market indicators compared to the previous trading day. The angle indicates direction & velocity of the trend.
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30 Day Market Trendline
Change from 30 Days Ago: +1.39%
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  • Click Here..to receive the WMS on Saturday mornings or have it sent to friends & associates.

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  • View previous Summaries in the..WMS Archives
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    Regular Contents: 
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  • Weekly Market Overview.
  • National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Weekly Summary.
  • Stocker & Feeder Steers.
  • Stocker & Feeder Cattle Weekly Receipts.
  • 5 Year Moving Avg. - Stocker, Feeder, & Slaughter Steers.
  • Selected Auction Reports.
  • Direct Sales of Feeder & Stocker Cattle.
  • Representative Sales of Cow & Pairs.
  • Canadian Cattle.
  • USDA National Retail Beef Report.
  • Photo of the Week.
  • Shootin' the Bull Weekly Analysis.
  • U.S. Dollar - 6 Month Chart.
  • Choice Boxed Beef Cutout, Slaughter, & Feeder Steers.
  • Feeder Steers/Corn Correlation.
  • Slaughter Cows & Bulls.
  • Est. Weekly Meat Production Under Federal Inspection.
  • Weekly Hay Reports.
  • Weekly Feedstuffs Market Review.
  • Bullish/Bearish Consensus: Cattle & Corn.
  • Stock Markets & Economic News.
  • Weather Outlook.
  • Feedyard Closeouts: Profit/(Loss).
  • Slaughter Cattle.
  • Corn Crop Condition.
  • National Grain Summary.
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    Of Possible Interest:  The views expressed in the content below are included in the WMS because we found them to be of interest but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Cattle Range.
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    Weekly Market Overview:
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    On-Line Store
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    National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Weekly Summary:
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    RECEIPTS:  Auctions   Direct  Video/Internet   Total
    This Week     195,400     65,900          4,100          265,400
    Last Week     194,900     80,800         72,600         348,300
    Last Year       164,700     35,500              900         201,100

    Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers sold 2.00 to 6.00 higher, with steer and heifer calves being mostly 3.00 to 8.00 higher and instances up to 10.00 to 12.00 higher.  Two weeks ago when there was a lull in the market, order buyers were bargain hunting as feedyards weren't too interested in placements at that time.  However, this week most feedyards upped their bids and those same order buyers can't purchase them fast enough to satisfy their customers.  Rain over the weekend in Oklahoma and the Easter holiday has hampered livestock movement however that recent rainfall followed by warmer temperatures has buyers eager and optimistic towards feeders that fit their grazing pastures. 

    Feeder numbers in the Northern Plains are tightening up very quickly so anyone that wanted to purchase had to pounce quickly on the cattle offered for sale.  Moisture levels in most grazing areas seem to be alright for this time of year and ranchers do not want a repeat of the Southern Plains horrendous wildfires that happened just a short month or so ago.  Demand was good to very good on all classes of feeders this week after fed cattle gained 4.00 and live sales in the Southern Plains reported up to 132.00 on Wednesday.  Packers were insistent on meeting their procurement needs and were willing to pay up sharply to get business done.  Several weeks ago, packers were purchasing cattle 15-30 days out front and now they are giving the appearance that those cattle have been worked through and are chomping at the bit to purchase some more for May delivery.  Once the end of May gets here, those June contracted cattle will start being harvested if buyer and seller agree to terms. 

    Steer dressed weights have decreased dramatically since the first of the year, 53 lbs lower than w/e January 7 and the typical 5 year average decrease is around 23 lbs.  Given the winter weather has been rather mild through Nebraska this year, the more exceptional gaining calf-feds are being marketed at a lighter weight than normal and are probably a little greener as well.  The estimated steer and heifer grading report for the first week of April shows that percent Choice is slightly higher 2016, however the Choice-Select spread is just the exact opposite of traditional thinking.  This year the spread is about 2.50 more than last year, signaling that packers may need some more Select product to get into the pipeline.  Several of thecalf-feds being harvested now were bought last fall and first cost would've been around $800 per head.  If the top end of those calf-feds are coming out of the feedyard now, cattle feeders are basically doubling the value of the animal in six to seven months. 

    Feed costs have been relatively flat throughout their feeding period and that feeder calf feeder will turn a sizeable profit in one turn.  Feeder cattle continue to bring handsome prices at auctions this week.  On Wednesday at Green City Livestock in Green City, MO a load of 780 lb steers sold at 156.75.  Today at Lexington Livestock Market in Lexington, NE two and a half loads of one iron branded steers weighing 809 lbs brought 152.25 and a load of 824 lbs black and red white face steers sold at 152.75.  Corn plantings so far are 6 percent behind a year ago but only 3 percent behind the 5 year average. 

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    Stocker Steers:
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    Feeder Steers:
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    Stocker & Feeder Cattle Weekly Receipts:
    Weekly sales of Stocker Calves & Feeder Cattle sold via auctions, direct country sales, and video/Internet sales as reported by the UDSA Market News
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    Five Year Moving Average - Stocker, Feeder, & Slaughter Steers:
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    Cattle Futures Summary: Live cattle futures were higher in most contracts on Friday, with August the only month lower, down 2.5 cents. They finished the week $4.425 higher in the April contract. Feeder Cattle futures were mixed on the day with April up 65 cents and May 50 cent lower. The CME feeder cattle index was at $138.05 on 4/20 , up 40 from the previous day. Wholesale beef prices were higher in the afternoon report. Choice boxes averaged $217.16, up $1.44, with Select gaining 32 cents with an average price of $203.89. The COT report had managed money continuing to add to their net long position in live cattle futures and options, by another 8,161 contracts. Cash cattle trade is fairly light today, with the USDA reporting sales of $132 in the South and $133.50 in NE. Estimated FI cattle slaughter through Saturday is at 595,000 head. That is up 5,000 from last week and 10,000 head from the same week last year. 
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    Selected Auction Reports:
    "Click" on individual.auction links.for complete report
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    Farmers & Ranchers Livestock Commission Co. - Salina KS
    Receipts:  4876    Last Week:  5890    Year Ago:  2552
    Compared to last week: Steers 800-1050 lbs 1.00 higher; 800 lbs and under higher undertone noted. Heifers 650-950 lbs 2.00-7.00 higher; 650 lbs and under higher undertone noted.

    Green Forest Livestock Auction - Green Forest AR
    Receipts:  821    Last Week:  799    Year Ago:  875
    Compared to one week earlier slaughter cows mostly steady with  outstanding boner cow at 85 cents per lb, slaughter bulls steady to 3.00 higher, feeder steers lightly tested, steer calves steady to 3.00 higher, feeder bulls and heifers mostly steady,

    Mitchell Livestock Wtd Avg Report - Mitchell SD
    Receipts:  3880    Last Week:  5685    Year Ago:  3824
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers under 750 lbs not well compared with higher undertones noted, 750-900 lbs 3.00 to 9.00 higher, 900-1050 lbs mostly steady to 5.00 higher with instances seen of 7.00 higher on 950-1000 lbs.

    Oklahoma National Stockyards - Oklahoma City OK
    Receipts:  5,699     Last Week:  8,209    Year ago:  5,659
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers are trading 2.00-5.00 higher.  Steer calves selling 4.00-5.00 higher and heifer calves 1.00 higher on limited offerings.  Demand moderate to good.

    El Reno Cattle Narrative - El Reno OK
    Receipts:  12,843    Week ago:    15,243    Year ago:  3,834
    *** Final report for the week of 04/18-19/17 *** Compared to last week: Feeder steers sold 2.00-5.00 higher, feeder heifers traded mostly 1.00-3.00  higher.

    Joplin Regional Stockyards Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg - Carthage MO
    Receipts:  3,543     Week ago:   6,118    Year ago:  6,130
    ***CLOSE***  Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves 3.00 to 10.00  higher, yearlings 2.00 to 6.00 higher.  Demand good, supply light.  Rain showers, higher fed cattle trade and higher futures trade continues to drive the  feeder cattle market.

    Toppenish, WA Livestock Auction - Toppenish WA
    Receipts:  2700    Last Week:  2600    Year Ago:  2525
    Compared to last Thursday at the same market, stocker and feeder cattle steady to 3.00 higher. Buyers continue to purchase feeder cattle on mostly good demand. CME positions continue to give support to buyers as contracts inch higher.

    Cattleman's Livestock Auction - Dalhart, TX
    Cattle and Calves: 2160      Week ago: 1940      Year Ago:  659
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers under 700 lbs and heifers under 600 lbs firm; steers over 700 lbs and heifers over 600 lbs 2.00 higher. Slaughter cows and bulls 2.00-3.00 lower.  Trade fairly active.  Demand fairly good.

    Pratt Livestock Feeder Cattle Auction - Pratt, KS
    Receipts: 5173        Last Week: 4309         Year Ago: 2973
    Compared to last week: Feeder steers 600-700 lbs firm to 7.00 higher; 700-1000 lbs 1.00-4.00 higher. Feeder heifers 700-800 lbs 4.00-6.00 higher; 900-950 lbs 1.00 higher.

    Clovis Livestock Auction - Clovis NM
    Receipts:  1462            Week Ago: 1475            Year Ago: 1969
    Compared to last week: Feeder steers 3.00-7.00 higher, instances 9.00 higher on 700-750 lbs.  Heifers 4.00-5.00 higher, instances 9.00 higher on 550-600 lbs. Slaughter cows steady to 1.00 lower, bulls 3.00 lower.

    Sioux Falls Regional Livestock wtd Avg Report - Worthing SD
    Receipts:  2457    Last Week:  3331    Year Ago:  4206
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers under 650 lbs had few comparable sales, 650-750 lbs 3.00 to 8.00 higher, 800-850 and 900-950 lbs 2.00 to 5.00 higher.

    Blue Grass South Livestock Market - Stanford KY
    Receipts:  828    Last Week:  1093    Year Ago:  931
    Compared to last Monday:Feeder steers and heifers steady with good demand,Slaughter cows and bulls steady with good demand.

    Winter Livestock - La Junta CO...
    Receipts:  1250    Last Week:  2356    Year Ago:  534
    Compared with last Tuesday: Steers under 700 lbs steady to 2.00 higher. Heifers under 500 lbs 3.00 to 4.00 higher, 500 to 700 lbs steady to 2.00 higher. Yearling feeder steers over 700 lbs 3.00 to 5.00 higher, over 800 lbs steady. Yearling feeder heifers over 700 lbs steady to 2.00 higher.

    Tulia Livestock Auction - Tulia TX
    Receipts:  3500    Last Week:  2700    Year Ago:  2254
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers sold 2.00 to 5.00 higher.  Trade was active on very good demand after recent reports of fat cattle traded at 132.00 this week.

    Huss Platte Valley Auction - Kearney NE
    Receipts:  4290    Two Weeks Ago:  2363    Year Ago:  3160
    Compared to two weeks ago, steers under 800 lbs sold 8.00 to 9.00 higher, over 800 lbs sold 10.00 to 18.00 higher. Heifers sold 6.00 to 15.00 higher. Buyers bid readily from start to finish for all classes of cattle.

    Russell Wtd Avg Feeder Cattle Auction - Russell IA
    Receipts:  4393    2 weeks ago:  6129    Year Ago:  4400
    Compared to the sale 2 weeks ago: Feeder strs under 750 lbs. mostly 2.00-5.00 higher, feeder strs over 750 lbs. mostly 5.00-9.00 higher and feeder hfrs mostly 3.00-5.00 higher. Trade Active and Demand Good today.

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    Direct Sales of Feeder & Stocker Cattle:
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    WY, Western NE & Western Dakotas Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
    Receipts: 695       Week Ago:  2,501     Year Ago:  2,138
    Compared to last week heifers sold 1.00-2.00 higher with feeder steers having no recent price comparison.  Demand was moderate to good. Nebraska slaughter cattle sales traded higher on the week with the live sales 4.00 higher at mostly 133.00 and dressed sales sold 4.00-5.00 higher ranging from 210.00-212.00.

    AZ-CA-NV Weekly Feeder Cattle Review (Fri)
    Confirmed: 580 
    Compared to last week, Trade slow, demand light. Not enough head traded to establish trend.  Bulk of Supply consisted of 325 lb Holstein steers for Aug Del. Cattle weighing over 600 lbs totaled 0 percent.  Heifers totaled 0 percent.

    IA-South MN Direct Feeder Cattle Weekly (Mon)
    Receipts:  83     Last Week:  52     Last Year: 0
    Compared to the last week:  Feeder steers and heifers not tested.  Prices based on net weights FOB after a 3 percent shrink or equivalent and 5-10 cent slide on calves and 4-6 cent slide on yearlings from base weights. 

    Colorado Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
    Receipts: 11,575       Last Week 6,797        Last Year 4,822 
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers not tested for current FOB delivery.  Demand remains very good. Supply consisted of 100 percent over 600 lbs; 20 percent heifers.

    Kansas Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
    Receipts:  4191    Last Week:  9134    Year Ago:  2599
    Compared with last week: Feeder steers firm to 5.00 higher, heifers firm. Sales confirmed on 3702 steers, 489 heifers and no calves for a total of 4191 head compared with 9134 last week and 2599 last year. Volume includes 100 percent 600 lbs and over with 45 percent contracted cattle.

    Montana Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
    Receipts: 220          Last Week: 0            Last Year: 600 
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers no trend available and heifers not tested. Supply included 100 percent over 600 lbs; 0 percent heifers. 

    New Mexico Feeder Cattle Report (Mon)
    Receipts:  1700    Last Week:  0    Year Ago:  280
    There was not a test of cattle in previous week for comparison.  Trade activity was moderate on moderate to good demand.  Most sales were future contracts. 

    Northwest Wtd Avg Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
    Receipts:  3150    Last Week:  5500    Year Ago:  1300
    Compared to last week, feeder cattle steady to 4.00 higher. Trade slow to moderate. Demand remains good especially for fall calves. The feeder supply included 64 percent steers and 36 percent heifers.

    Oklahoma Direct Feeder Cattle (Fri)
    Receipts: 6,304        Last Week 9,162        Last Year 4,146 
    Compared to last week:  Feeder steers traded 2.00-3.00 higher, feeder heifers not well tested for Current FOB trades but a higher undertone noted.  Cattle futures opened the week higher increasing demand.

    Texas Direct Feeder Cattle (Fri)
    Confirmed: 35,700     Last Week: 41,400    Last Year: 21,300
    Compared to last week current FOB feeder steers and heifers the full range was 1.00 to 9.00 higher but the majority of the trades were 3.00-6.00 higher.
     

  • Extensive U.S. & Canadian Auction Results are available on The Cattle Range
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    Representative Sales of Cow & Pairs:
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    Reported by.USDA Market News for the week ending April 21st
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    • El Reno, OK:
      • Replacement Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Heifers 700-850 lbs 7-8 months bred 750.00-860.00; 4-6 yr old 800-1375 lbs 7-8 months bred some black 1325.00; 3-5 yr old 775-1325 lbs 3-8 months bred 910.00-1125.00 per head. 
      • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2 yr old 925 lbs w/75-100 lbs calf 1550.00; 5-8 yr old 1200-1325 lbs w/75-100 lbs calf 1025.00-1350.00 per pair. 
    • McAlester, OK:
      • Replacement Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  1-6 yr old 775-1250 lbs 4-6 months bred 900.00-1285.00; 1-4 yr old 775-1000 lbs 6-8 months bred 800.00-960.00; 5-10 yrs old 4-8 months bred 890.00-1150.00 per head. 
      • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  1-6 yr old 750-1025 lb cow w/100-330 lb calf 975.00-1150.00; 7-10 yr old 875-1250 lb cow w/110-300 lb calf 925.00-1110.00 per pair. 
    • Oklahoma City, OK:
      • Replacement Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  1-2 yr old 900-1200 lbs 5-7 months bred black 1025.00-1060.00; pkg 4-5 yr old 1375 lbs 7 months bred black 1350.00; 4-5 yr old 1100-1375 lbs 6-7 months bred some black 1200.00-1350.00; 8-10 yr old 1175-1575 lbs 4-7 months old black 850.00-1135.00 per head. 
    • Clovis, NM:
      • Replacement Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Young 1000-1397 lb cows 3-8 months bred 1000.00-1250.00, per head; 1020-1105 lb cows 1-3 months bred 910.00-1010.00, per head; middle aged indiv 950 lb cow 3-6 months bred 775.00, per head; aged 1050-1275 lb cows 3-8 months bred 800.00-1000.00, per head.  First Calf Heifers:  675-800 lb cows 3-8 months bred 800.00-1000.00, per head.
      • Cow/Calf Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2:  Young 900-1250 lb cow w/125-300 lb calves 1250.00-1700.00, per pair; aged 925-1165 lb cows w/90-100 lb calves 900.00-1000.00, per pair.  First Calf Heifers:  Indiv 650 lb cow w/100 lb calf 1225.00, per pair.  Small Frame:  Young 2: Pkg 730 lb cows w/100-150 lb calves 650.00, per pair. 
    • Roswell, NM:
      • Replacement Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Young 915-1360 lb cows 3-8 months bred 950.00-1150.00, per head; middle aged indiv 1320 lb cow 6-8 months bred 1025.00, per head.  First Calf Heifers: 630-795 lb cows 3-8 months bred 700.00-910.00, per head. 
      • Cow/Calf Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2 Young 870-1075 lb cow w/125-180 lb calves 1110.00-1200.00, per pair; middle aged 1050-1065 lb cow w/100-200 lb calves 950.00-1110.00, per pair; aged 850-1100 lb cow w/150 lb calves 700.00-1060.00, per pair.  First Calf Heifers: 700 lb cow w/125 lb calf 1075.00, per pair. 
    • Salina, KS:
      • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 First Calf Heifers 935-1080 lbs 1-6 months bred 1150.00-1250.00 per head.  Medium and Large 1 Middle-Aged 860-1195 lbs 3-6 months bred 1400.00-1675.00; 1135-1290 lbs 3-6 months bred 1400.00-1525.00 per head.  Medium and Large 1-2  990-1280 lbs 3-6 months bred 1210.00-1385.00 per head.  Large 1  1300-1490 lbs 3-9 months bred 1400.00-1975.00 per head.  Large 1-2  1370-1585 lbs 3-6 months bred 1200.00-1385.00 per head.  Medium and Large 1-2 Aged 1205-1385 lbs 3-6 months bred 770.00-950.00 per head.  Large 1  1300-1505 lbs 3-9 months bred 1050.00-1225.00 per head.  Large 1-2  1300-1415 lbs 3-6 months bred 825.00-950.00 per head. 
      • Cow-Calf Pairs:  Medium and Large 1 Young 815-1170 lb cow w/150-275 lb calf 2000.00-2460.00 per pair. Medium and Large 1-2  735-1000 lb cow w/150-200 lb calf 1650.00-1975.00 per pair.  Medium and Large 1 Middle-Aged 785-1090 lb cow w/150-200 lb calf 1600.00-2010.00; 990-1260 lb cow w/150-275 lb calf 1775.00-2050.00 per pair.  Medium and Large 1-2  805-975 lb cow w/150-200 lb calf 1285.00-1400.00 per pair.  Large 1 1340-1450 lb cow w/newborn-275 lb calf 1610.00-1725.00 per pair.  Medium and Large 1-2 Aged 965-1250 lb cow w/150-275 lb calf 1175.00-1375.00 per pair. Large 1-2  1340-1475 lb cow w/150-275 lb calf 1235.00-1425.00 per pair. 
    • Joplin, MO:
      • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1  4-6 yrs 3rd stage pkg. 1300 lbs 1550.00.  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1000-1365 lbs 1050.00-1350.00, 1st stage 940-1280 lbs 975.00-1050.00; short and solid mouth 2nd and 3rd stage 1100-1320 lbs 875.00-1025.00; broken mouth 2nd and 3rd stage 1150-1350 lbs 710.00-875.00. Large 1-2  5-7 yrs 3rd stage couple 1485-1500 lbs 1075.00-1150.00, 1st stage 2 yr 1300 lb indiv. 1235.00; short and solid mouth 3rd stage 1400-1520 lbs 880.00-1050.00. Medium and Large 2  3-6 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 970-1265 lbs 960.00-1000.00, 1st stage 975-1000 lbs 700.00-875.00; short and solid mouth 2nd stage 1050 lb indiv. 700.00. Medium 1-2  2-7 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 900-1050 lbs 900.00-1160.00, 1st stage 870-1015 lbs 780.00-1025.00; short and solid mouth to aged 2nd and 3rd stage 900-1065 lbs 585.00-775.00 per head. 
      • Cow/Calf Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 1170-1235 lb cows w/babies to 360 lb calves and a few rebred 1325.00-1575.00; short and solid mouth to aged 1090-1175 lb cows w/baby calves 1000.00-1050.00. Medium and Large 2  3-7 yrs 1000-1250 lb cows w/babies to 170 lb calves 1100.00-1250.00. Medium 1-2  3-6 yrs 840-1040 lb cows w/babies to 135 lb calves 1010.00-1125.00; broken mouth 1050 lb cow w/baby calf 850.00 per pair. 
    • Springfield, MO:
      • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1060-1255 lbs 1100.00-1450.00, 1st stage 1250 lb indiv. 1175.00; short and solid mouth 2nd and 3rd stage 1070-1365 lbs 700.00-1000.00, 1st stage 1110 lb indiv 745.00; broken mouth to aged 2nd and 3rd stage 1068-1188 lbs 605.00-750.00. Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1175-1380 lbs 1100.00-1175.00, 1st stage 1390 lb indiv. 1100.00. Medium and Large 2  3-5 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1070-1135 lbs 875.00-960.00. Medium 1-2  2-7 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 830-1040 lbs 850.00-950.00; broken mouth 2nd stage 940-960 lbs 530.00-605.00 per head. 
      • Cow/Calf Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-4 yrs 1020-1110 lb cows w/150-165 lb calves 1375.00-1400.00; broken mouth 1120 lb cow w/newborn calf 1025.00. Medium 1-2 short and solid mouth 815 lb cow w/baby calf 975.00 per pair. 
    • West Plains, MO:
      • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yr old 950-1500 lb cows in the 2nd to 3rd stage 1000.00-1450.00 per head, 1st stage 950.00-1025.00 per head; Short-solid to broken mouth 1140-1470 lb cows in the 2nd to 3rd stage 875.00-1000.00 per head.  Medium and Large 2  2-6 yr old 840-1155 lb cows in the 2nd to 3rd stage 750.00-1000.00 per head 1st stage 650.00-875.00 per head; 7 yr to broken mouth 935-1240 lb cows in the 2nd to 3rd stage 550.00-900.00 per head.
      • Cow-Calf Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-5 yr old 878-950 lb cows with 125-150 lb calves 1300.00-1550.00 per pair; Pkg 3 pair broken mouth 1302 lb cows with 350 lb calves 1200.00 per pair.  3-n-1 pkgs 6 yr to short-solid mouth 1140-1412 lb cows in the 1st stage with 300 lb calves 1525.00-1550.00 per pair.  Medium and Large 2  2-7 yr old 817-1170 lb cows with 100-150 lb calves 1000.00-1175.00 per pair; Short-solid to broken mouth 710-1135 lb cows with 100-300 lb calves 775.00-900.00 per pair. 
    • Riverton, WY:
      • Bred Cows: Heifers 945-1240 lbs 1400.00-165.00, few 815-135 lbs 1025.00-1275.00; Young 1180-1420 lbs 1525.00-1650.00, few 990-1325 lbs 1200.00-1475.00, couple 1175-1325 lbs 925.00-950.00; Middle Aged (Short Solid) individual 1250 lbs 1250.00, couple (late) 1240-1460 lbs 975.00-1075.00; Aged (Short Term) 1390-1460 lbs 1000.00-1075.00 all per head. 
      • Cow/calf Pairs: Heifers couple packages 1040-1125 lb heifers with 140-200 lb calves 2000.00-2050.00, few 760-950 lb heifers with 65-75 lb calves 1275.00-1525.00; Young mostly 965-1245 lb cows with 115-1902 lb calves 1875.00-2000.00, several 905-1440 lb cows with 135-225 lb calves 1625.00-1760.00, few 870-1065 lb cows with 125-140 lb calves 1400.00-1450.00; Middle Aged (Short Solid) 1385-1580 lb cows with 85-200 lb calves 1525.00-1575.00; Aged (Short Term) 1350-1485 lb cows with 110-150 lb calves 1310.00-1335.00, individual 1215;b cow with 120 lb calf 900.00 all per head. 
    • Arkansas:
      • Replacement Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 year old 850-1250 lbs second & third stage 107.00-117.00/975.00-1075.00, first stage/open 75.00-85.00 7-10 year old, second & third stage 68.00-78.00/800.00-900.00 per head. 
      • Cow-Calf Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 year old 800-1200 lb w/100-200 lb calf 1200.00-1300.00, few to 1775.00, w/200-300 lb calf 1300.00-1400.00; w/100-200 lb calf 1025.00-1125.00 per pair.
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    Canadian Cattle:
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    Alberta Beef Producers: Alberta direct cattle sales so far this week have seen light trade develop with the bulk of dressed sales marked at 294.00 and 295.00 delivered. Initial sales are 5.00-6.00 higher than the previous week. Profit margins remain very impressive on the cattle being marketed which is encouraging producers to sell cattle ahead of schedule. A lot of yearlings have break even in the low 140's and early placed calves have break even in the mid 130's.

    Canfax released its April 1st cattle on feed report. Placement volumes during the month of March were up 15% compared to the same time last year while fed cattle marketing were up 4%. April 1st cattle on feed inventories remain 4% below last year and 3% below the five-year average.

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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 $0.7544 U.S. dollars
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    Prices for the week ending April 14th:
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    The "Nord Fork"

    Replaces Flankers at Branding
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    April 21st Cattle on Feed Report
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    United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly
    • Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.9 million head on April 1, 2017. The inventory was slightly above April 1, 2016. The inventory included 7.23 million steers and steer calves, down 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 66 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.67 million head, up 5 percent from 2016.
    • Placements in feedlots during March totaled 2.10 million head, 11 percent above 2016. Placements were the highest for March since the series began in 1996. Net placements were 2.05 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 350,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 295,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 620,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 585,000, 900-999 pounds were 185,000, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 67,000 head.
    • Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.91 million head, 10 percent above 2016.
    • Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during March, 10 percent below 2016.
    Complete April Cattle On Feed Report
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    Cattle on Feed Inventory in 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots as of April 1st
    Millions of Head
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    Number of Cattle Placed on Feed in 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots in March
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    Number of Cattle Marketed from 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots in March
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    Cattle on Feed by State as of April 1st
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    USDA March Livestock Slaughter Report
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    Record Total Red Meat and Pork Production for March

    Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.54 billion pounds in March, up 6 percent from the
    4.26 billion pounds produced in March 2016.

    • Beef production, at 2.25 billion pounds, was 7 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.77 million head, up 9 percent from March 2016. The average live weight was down 20 pounds from the previous year, at 1,350 pounds.
    • Veal production totaled 6.4 million pounds, 1 percent above March a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 45,000 head, up 25 percent from March 2016. The average live weight was down 56 pounds from last year, at 246 pounds.
    • Pork production totaled 2.27 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.7 million head, up 6 percent from March 2016. The average live weight was unchanged from the previous year, at 284 pounds.
    • Lamb and mutton production, at 13.7 million pounds, was down 4 percent from March 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 196,900 head, 5 percent below last year. The average live weight was 140 pounds, up 2 pounds from March a year ago.
    January to March 2017 commercial red meat production was 12.8 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2016.

    Accumulated beef production was up 6 percent from last year, veal was down 4 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 2 percent. 

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    Lag in Retail Beef Price Adjustments
    CME Group
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    Retail beef prices in March increased compared to the previous month but they were still about 5% lower than the previous year and down 7.9% from the peak in May 2015. The decline in retail beef prices follows the decline wholesale beef prices at the end of 2016 and early 2017. The chart below shows the fairly strong relationship between wholesale beef values, as represented by the choice beef cutout, and the value of beef at retail. We have lagged the choice beef price by two months, in other words, relating the value of choice beef in January 2017 with retail prices in March 2017.

    What stands out in the last 12 months is that retail beef prices have been higher than one would expect given the long run relationship. Some of this may be due to the retail price data series itself, since it is not a weighted by sales volume. The other reason may be due to the fact that wholesale beef prices last fall and winter declined at a fairly rapid clip and retailers have taken their time to adjust. Wholesale beef prices in February declined compared to the previous month but they rose sharply in March. The average choice beef cutout in March was $216/cwt, 13% higher than the previous month but still about 4% lower than the previous year. 

    So far in April the choice beef cutout has averaged $210/cwt, 4% under last year’s levels. Market participants in the futures markets are now likely pondering what effect the stronger than expected cutout values will have on retail prices and eventually the amount of beef consumers will buy. Because retailers took their time in adjusting prices lower, it appears unlikely to us that we will see a notable increase in retail beef prices this summer. Some of the speculation that higher prices will kill beef demand may be overstating the case a bit. What may be a bit more problematic for beef demand, especially once we move past the key summer holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July) is the price of competing proteins and beef trade flows. 

    So far this year beef supplies available in the domestic market have increased but not as much as one would expect if you were simply looking at the slaughter numbers. For now retailers and foodservice operators are in full swing preparing for the seasonal improvement in demand that comes from warmer weather. Consumer confidence is at the highest level it has been in almost a decade and consumer disposable income growth has returned to pre-recession levels. The unemployment rate is at 4.5%. In other words, these should be good times for beef demand and retailers could opt to keep prices in check (after all their margins are still good) and capitalize on consumer willingness to indulge as the grilling season gets underway.

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    USDA National Retail Beef Report:
    Advertised Prices for Beef at Major Retail Supermarket Outlets
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    This week in Beef Retail, the Feature Rate is 1.2 percent lower, the Special Rate saw a 1.8 percent decrease, and the Activity Index is .8 percent increase. Grills are starting to find their way to patios and back porches around as warm weather begins to settle in around the country. Chuck, Round, Loin, and Ground Beef items saw more ad space while Rib and Brisket items saw less. Cattle Slaughter under Federal Inspection a a .8 percent increase.
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    Photo of the Week:
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  • 500 Angus & Angus Plus Rep. Heifers... Southwest MO*
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    Shootin' the Bull Weekly Analysis:
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    In my opinion, a few things happened this week that should help to determine some longer term movement higher in cattle.  The first was the oscillator technical indicator, on the August and out months, set a new high that reflected a dip, but did not return to the zero line.  The new high in price and oscillator leads me to anticipate further upside potential.  The second was the ability to continue to trade cash higher.  The environment has changed rapidly the past 6 months.  Lighter weights and increased demand, both domestic and export, have helped to absorb the increase of inventory.  While weights may change some this summer, the demand and exports are anticipated to remain elevated.  While many are now growing tired of the abnormally wide basis, and the time it will take to converge, that is really all there is to this market for the time being.  This issue will have to be resolved and the spread difference does not lead one to anticipate cash or futures to be weak enough or strong enough on their own to converge price at either's current level.  Hence, I still anticipate a meeting in the middle as expiration draws near for the respective contract month expiring. 

    I anticipate next week to be softer in tone for the futures as the April contract expires.  It will be after this that we see the huge break lower on the weekly continuation chart via the discounted June contract. This will make the weekly chart look as if it has collapsed.  We know that it hasn't, but what it will actually do is create the major wave 2 correction on the weekly chart without actually ever having to trade cash that low.  I think it will be difficult to change the scheme of things just yet.  The pulling forward of cattle is economically justified and that keeps the weights down and pipeline greased.  Consumers don't appear to have had too many more burdens placed upon them after the last health insurance premium spike.  With energy prices still low, and employment elevated, these factors would have to change before I would anticipate the consumer to begin to reduce beef consumption due to an economic strife of some sort. 

    Night and day difference between fats and feeders.  Fats contending with a sharply positive basis, while feeders are enjoying a mild negative basis.  The feeders gave good indications of its intent to move higher this week.  Both the oscillator and price set new highs.  The oscillators inability to move to or below the zero line before resuming higher suggests this is still the primary wave 3 in progress.  I would anticipate some minor fluctuation in feeders before resuming the up trend.  I made some recommendations this week to market some inventory.  This is not a recommendation to sell futures to be short, it is a marketing recommendation.  That means that however you choose to market, whether futures, cash forward or options, market it and don't look back.  I do not want to be misconstrued as this to be a selling opportunity, it is not.  However, I do view it as a marketing opportunity.  Not much else transpired this week to comment on. 

    Grains remain lack luster and all my analysis and thoughts of a higher market remain wrong.  Swapping horses in mid-stream is not anticipated to necessarily make me right.  So, I'll wait to see what develops from here and make adjustments as needed. 

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    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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    2016 Livestock Slaughter Summary
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    Record High Total Red Meat and Pork Production in 2016

    Total red meat production for the United States totaled 50.5 billion pounds in 2016, 4 percent higher than the previous year. Red meat includes beef, veal, pork, and lamb and mutton. Red meat production in commercial plants totaled 50.4 billion pounds. On-farm slaughter totaled 93.2 million pounds.

    • Beef production totaled 25.3 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. 
    • Veal production totaled 81.0 million pounds, down 8 percent from last year. 
    • Pork production, at 25.0 billion pounds, was 2 percent above the previous year.
    • Lamb and mutton production totaled 155.4 million pounds, down slightly from 2015.
    Commercial cattle slaughter during 2016 totaled 30.6 million head, up 6 percent from 2015, with federal inspection comprising 98.5 percent of the total. The average live weight was 1,363 pounds, up 3 pounds from a year ago. Steerscomprised 54.8 percent of the total federally inspected cattle slaughter, heifers 25.6 percent, dairy cows 9.6 percent, other cows 8.4 percent, and bulls 1.6 percent.

    Commercial calf slaughter totaled 487,700 head, 8 percent higher than a year ago with 98.4 percent under federal inspection. The average live weight was 266 pounds, down 44 pounds from a year earlier.

    Commercial hog slaughter totaled 118.2 million head, 2 percent higher than 2015 with 99.3 percent of the hogs slaughtered under federal inspection. The average live weight was down 1 pound from last year, at 282 pounds. Barrows and gilts comprised 97.3 percent of the total federally inspected hog slaughter.

    Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter, at 2.24 million head, was up 1 percent from the previous year with 89.8 percent by federal inspection. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from 2015 at 134 pounds. Lambs and yearlings comprised 94.6 percent of the total federally inspected sheep slaughter.

    There were 814 plants slaughtering under federal inspection on January 1, 2017 compared with 808 last year. Of these, 650 plants slaughtered at least one head of cattle during 2016 with the 13 largest plants slaughtering 58 percent of the total cattle killed. 

    Hogs were slaughtered at 621 plants, with the 13 largest plants accounting for 60 percent of the total. 

    For calves, 3 of the 200 plants accounted for 46 percent of the total and 3 of the 531 plants that slaughtered sheep or lambs in 2016 comprised 54 percent of the total head.

    Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas accounted for 49 percent of the United States commercial red meat production in 2016, unchanged from 2015

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    Top 5 Global Beef Importers
    Daily Livestock Report
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    China has emerged in recent years as the top beef market in the world. Beef consumption in China has been increasing rapidly, albeit from a very small base. Higher incomes, a more urban population and increasing popularity of western diets has led to increased demand for beef in this market with +1.3 billion people. As recently as 2011, imports of beef in China and Hong Kong were 180,000 MT (cwe), with Mainland China accounting for just 28,000 MT. In 2017, USDA estimates combined beef imports for China/Hong Kong at 1.425 million MT (cwe), a 7 fold increase from just six years ago. 

    Given the increased importance of China in the global beef market, there has been a lot of interest in efforts to open this market to US beef products and it appears that Chinese officials have agreed in principle to do that. However, there are a number of obstacles that will limit the amount of US beef that will go into Chinese markets in the short to medium term. China insists that all beef going into the country conform to its traceability requirements. Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand and Argentina have mandatory traceability systems for their cattle but at this point this is not the case for the US. Also, China has a very strict policy with regard to hormones. A Chinese notice to trade said that “any detection of a synthetic hormone, or a detection of a naturally occurring hormone at levels higher that the normal physiological levels, will result in rejection of the consignment and possible delistment of the plant .” 

    Product is tested at the port of entry and exporters run significant financial risk, which will likely limit the amount of beef that US can ship into China even as US beef is allowed into the country. But other markets hold more promise for US beef. Exports to Japan and S. Korea likely will benefit from increased competiveness of US beef product relative to Australia, our key competitor in these markets. Exports to Mexico and Canada also are expected to be quite robust. The challenge for US beef going forward will be to gain increased access to regions and parts of the world where beef consumption is expected to increase as incomes grow and consumers look to upgrade their diets. 

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    U.S. Dollar - 6 Month Chart:
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    Over the last 5 years, an average of around 10% of U.S. beef production has been exported, making exports an extremely important factor affecting beef and cattle prices.  A strong dollar depresses export demand.

  • U.S. Dollar Index
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    Choice Boxed Beef Cutout, Slaughter, & Feeder Steers:
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    Boxed beef cutout values firm to higher on light to moderate demand and moderate offerings. Select and Choice rib and chuck cuts steady to weak while round cuts firm. Choice loin cuts higher while Select steady. Beef trimmings unevenly steady on light to moderate demand and moderate offerings. 

    The average value of hide and offal for the five days ending Fri, Apr 21, 2017   was estimated at 12.05 per cwt., up 0.16 from last week and  up 0.64 from last year.

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    Brazil Indicts 63 People in Meat Probe
    MeatingPlace.com
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    Brazil's Federal Police has charged 63 people investigated for participating in a corruption scheme involving meat processing plants in the country on Saturday, according to reports by Agência Brasil news agency and the news website O Estado de S.Paulo.

    The defendants were already held in preventive detention and include agricultural inspectors and staff of processing plants, according to a report sent by the Police to a Federal Court and published by O Estado de S.Paulo. They will respond for crimes such as corruption, falsification, adulteration in food products, among others.

    Flavio Evers Cassou, an employee at Seara Alimentos (JBS), is among the indicted. JBS said in a statement sent to Meatingplace that it wouldn't comment about the indictment because it didn't have access to the final police report. The company said it “does not comply with any misconduct,” and that the employee mentioned in the report is not in an executive position at JBS.

    André Baldissera and Roney Nogueira dos Santos, director and manager at BRF, respectively, have also been indicted. BRF did not respond to a request for comment by Monday afternoon.

    Brazil's Federal Police had already disclosed that those three employees were among the investigated when the Operation Weak Flesh was announced on March 17. The probe is focused on 21 meat processing plants and 33 federal sanitary inspectors, allegedly involved in the bribery scheme.

    After the investigation was announced, dozens of countries suspended Brazilian meat imports temporarily. Since then, Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA) has conducted a special investigation on the plants and found sanitary problems in eight out of 302 meat samples collected.

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    Feeder Steers/Corn Correlation:
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    Over the years, the value of 25 bushels of corn has been approximately equal to the price per cwt. for feeder steers.
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    Slaughter Cows & Bulls:
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    Slaughter cows and bulls steady to 4.00 lower. 

    Cutter Cow Carcass Cut-Out Value Friday was 169.65 -- Up .65 from last Friday. 

                      Weight          Colorado         Oklahoma        Alabama 
    Breakers  1100-1600   63.50-68.00    65.50-68.00    60.00-64.00
    Boners      1000-1450   62.50-69.00    66.00-70.00    62.00-65.50
    Lean         1000-1300   60.00-63.50    66.00-69.00    55.00-60.00
    Bulls          1300-2500   82.50-86.00    88.00-92.00    85.00-90.00

                   Confirmed  Week Ago  Year Ago   YTD       Year Ago
    National      7,105         7,353         6,756     34,757        26,266
    S Central    2,473         2,213         2,031     10,844          7,413
    N Central       539            718             850       2,868          2,019
    East            1,743         1,812         1,644        8,942          6,775
    West           1,353          1,524            791       6,064          4,481
    Midwest         997          1,086        1,440        6,039          5,578


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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, April 22, 2017 was estimated at 970.2 million lbs. according to the U.S.Department of Agriculture's Marketing Service. This was 1.5 percent higher than a week ago and 1.3 percent higher than a year ago.  Cumulative meat production for the year to date was 3.1 percent higher compared to the previous year.
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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 April 18, 2017 were mixed. 
    • Soybean Meal was mixed, 2.00 lower to 6.90 higher, mostly 2.90 to 6.90 higher. Cottonseed Meal was steady to 10.00 lower. Canola Meal was steady to 11.90 higher. Linseed Meal was steady. Sunflower Meal was steady. 
    • Whole Cottonseed was steady to 2.00 higher.
    • Crude Soybean Oil was 7 to 32 points higher. Crude Corn Oil was steady. 
    • Ruminant Meat and Bone Meal was mixed, 45.00 lower to 40.00 higher, mostly steady. Ruminant Blood Meal was steady to 50.00 lower. Feather Meal was steady to 5.00 lower, mostly steady. Menhaden Fishmeal was steady. 
    • Corn Hominy was steady. Gluten Feed was steady to 5.00 lower. Corn Gluten Meal was mixed, 2.00 lower to 5.00 higher. 
    • Distillers Dried Grain was mixed, 5.00 lower to 6.00 higher, mostly steady to 5.00 higher. 
    • Wheat Middling’s were mixed, 5.00 lower to 10.00 higher, mostly steady to 5.00 lower. Wheat millrun was steady to 10.00 lower.
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    5 Year Bullish/Bearish Consensus Charts:
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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 line in the chart, it means that compared to other readings over the past year, you're seeing excessive optimism. 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 excessively 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
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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus: Corn
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    Stock Markets & Economic News:
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    Stocks closed higher following a week of seesaw trading. The Nasdaq Composite Index outperformed, while disappointing results from Goldman Sachs, IBM, and Johnson & Johnson weighed on the narrowly focused Dow Jones Industrial Average. The smaller-cap indexes, which typically see larger swings, outperformed for the week but continued to lag for the year to date.

    The week brought the first significant round of first-quarter earnings reports, which are generally expected to show the best rise in overall corporate profits in several years. Anticipation of Netflix’s earnings seemed to boost broader sentiment on Monday although the stock dipped a bit and then recovered after the media giant reported after the close of trading that it had missed revenue expectations while surpassing earnings estimates. Goldman Sachs’ miss on Tuesday, along with lighter-than-expected revenues from Johnson & Johnson and negative guidance from health care services firm Cardinal Health, combined to push the indexes back lower.

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    U.S. Stocks:
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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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    During the next 5 days, temperatures are forecasted to be near to below average for the Northwest, High Plains and South. Warmer than average temperatures are expected in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southwest. During the same period, precipitation is forecasted to be the heaviest (3-5 inches) in an area stretching from Oklahoma east through the Tennessee Valley. Much of the Midwest and Northeast is also expected to see about an inch of precipitation. 

    The 6-10 day outlooks call for an increase in probability that above normal temperatures are expected in the Southwest and South stretching into the Midwest and below normal temperatures in the Northwest, Northeast and parts of the High Plains. The odds are in favor of wet conditions in the Northwest, Northern Rockies and High Plains while the West and East Coasts dry out.

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    Carcass Weights Trend Lower
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    USDA reported that for the week ending April 8 the average dressed carcass, this is both fed and non fed cattle, was 802 pounds. This is 20 pounds lighter (-2.4%) than a year ago and 22 pounds lighter than the five year average. Cattle weights normally decline into the spring but the decline this year has been more significant than usual. The five year average carcass for all cattle at the start of the year was around 810 pounds per carcass and by the end of April the five year average stands at 794 pounds, a 2% decline. 

    This year carcass weights in early January stood at an average 837 pounds and since then have declined 4.2%, more than double the five year average rate. The decline in fed cattle carcass weights has been even more dramatic and has been the primary contributor for the weight reduction. The average fed steer carcass weight for the latest reported week was 852 pounds, 28 pounds (-3.2%) lower than a year ago and now about 6 pounds less than the five year average. The five year average decline for steer weights between early January and the end of April is around 3.4%. So far we are down 5.8% for the year and it is very likely we will see further declines in weights through the end of this month. At this point it looks possible that steer weights may eventually get as low as 840-845 by early May before starting their seasonal upswing. Heifer weights have declined just as sharply this year.

    Keep in mind that heifers are smaller than steers. An increase in the percentage of heifers in the slaughter mix (keep an eye on this in today’s COF report) will also tend to lower overall cattle carcass weights. The average weight of heifers in the latest report was pegged at 792 pounds, 26 pounds (-3.2%) lower than last year. The implication of the lower weights is both direct and indirect. Lower weights will subtract from beef production. While fed cattle slaughter for the week of April 8 was around 6% higher than the previous year, fed beef production for the week likely increased by less than 3% from the previous year. And with robust exports and less imports coming in, the amount of beef available to the domestic user likely was less than a year ago. The indirect implication of the fed cattle weights has to do with the supply conditions in the feedyards. The sharp decline in weights indicates that feedlots are much more current than a year ago and also more current than normal. A current yard does wonders for the testicular fortitude of a feedlot operator. 

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    Feedyard Closeouts: Profit/(Loss)
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    The Black Swan - Waiting & Hoping
    Ag Center Cattle Report
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    The Black Swan story is familiar to all traders. Swans come over the hill one at a time. Only 1 in a thousand is black. After 100 come over with traders betting with each new appearing swan, and each being white, the overconfident traders become more sure of the bet the swan will be white. Then the black swan appears. This causes the opposite effect. The traders become more cautious estimating the possibility of a black swan at 1 in a 100 instead of 1 in a 1000.

    This pattern is repeated by all people operating in volatile markets. Assessing the odds and making decisions is not all done by a computer without emotion but by humans impacted by the more recent events to occur in their lives. It is just human nature to suffer the residual pain caused by a recent harm rather than view the future from a disinterested and impassionate analysis of the past. The rancher hit by a large death loss in the herd from a freak blizzard will rush to the insurance agent the next year regardless of the price of insurance.

    Not all livestock hedgers are meticulously disciplined in their protection.  Many will accumulate inventories and then select the time and price to fix a margin. Most of the operators today remember the inventories of the past couple of years and the damage done. Those inventories bought over the past couple years never were provided an exit point with a profit on the board or in the cash markets. They were left with inventories dropping in value with each day and only awaiting the damage from the final sale.

    Today lenders are wary of allowing operators to accumulate large unprotected positions with skinny equity in the credit facility. For many stocker and feeding operators the past few months have provided little margin for ownership programs. High priced calves were matched up against even lower futures prices for feeders or feeders matched against lower live cattle futures prices. Nothing seemed to make sense. Like the black swan story, many were wary of accumulating an inventory betting the futures prices would rise. They all remember the more recent times when they never did.

    History reminds us that in more normalized times, if there is such a thing, inventories are generally bought and price fluctuations in futures prices usually provide a price point for a profit. Recalibrating the human mind to that fact is sometimes hard. The best plan is generally to let the grazing or feeding program run the show. If conditions are such that grazing forage is good, a good caretaker is available, and a willing lender on hand, then all is a go.

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    Slaughter Cattle:
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    Friday in the Southern Plains and Nebraska trading has been limited on light demand. In the Southern Plains a few live purchases have traded at 132.00. In Nebraska a few live purchases have traded at 133.50. In Colorado and Western Cornbelt trading has been inactive on very light demand. Not enough purchases for a full market trend in any major feeding region. Wednesday was last fully reported market trend in all regions. In the Texas Panhandle live purchases were at 132.00. In Kansas live purchases were mostly at 130.00 with a few up to 132.00. In Nebraska live and dressed purchases were at 133.00 and 210.00-212.00, respectively. In Colorado a light test of live purchases traded from 131.00-133.00. In the Western Cornbelt live and dressed purchases were from 130.00-134.00 and 212.00, respectively.

    The FCE On-Line Auction offered 4,446 total head on Wednesday with 701 head selling from $126.50 to $129.25 per cwt. The weighted average price was $128.62 per cwt.

    Formula Purchases: Net - Dressed
    Head count priced today:  8,300
    Weighted avg weight:           818
    Weighted avg net price:  203.49

    Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection:
                                     CATTLE    CALVES  HOGS        SHEEP
    Friday  (est)             104,000       2,000       443,000       5,000
    Week ago (est)       108,000       2,000       374,000       4,000
    Year ago (act)         111,000       2,000       419,000       7,000
    Week to date (est)  559,000    10,000    2,071,000     30,000
    Last Week (est)       568,000    10,000    2,147,000     42,000
    Last Year (act)         553,000      9,000    2,150,000     40,000

    Saturday  (est)           36,000         0             216,000       1,000
    Week ago (est)         22,000         0               76,000          0
    Year ago (act)           31,000         0                84,000         0
    Week to date (est) 595,000      10,000    2,287,000     31,000
    Last Week (est)      590,000     10,000    2,223,000      42,000
    Last Year* (act)       585,000       8,000    2,233,000     40,000
    2017 YTD             9,377,000   159,000  36,942,000   603,000
    2016 *YTD            8,845,000   138,000  36,210,000   614,000
    Percent change        6.0%        15.4%          2.0%          -1.8%

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    Weekly Corn Crop Report:
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    National Grain Summary:
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    Compared to last week, grain and soybean bids were mostly lower.  This spring it has been too wet for planting in many areas, however, may corn continues to stay above its March low of $3.54 1/4.  Brazil continues to see good growingconditions for its second corn crop and there is more rain in the forecast which is beneficial for its production.  May soybeans persists to trade above the low of last week’s outside reversal, however, the large supply of freshly harvested soybeans in Brazil continues to linger over the market’s head.  There is passive support in wheat offered by commercials, but not enough to stop the downtrend.  In 2017 the winter wheat crop is off to a good start with no major problems as of yet.  Although, the U.S. dollar index is at risk of trading higher, if French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has a strong showing in Sunday’s election. Weekly export sales for wheat came in at 20.3 mb (551,200 mt) with 15.2 mb (414,000 mt) for the 2016-2017 marketing year.  Export sales for corn came in at 33.4 mb (848,200 mt) with 29.8mb (756,400) for the 2016-2017 marketing year. Soybeans were bullish showing a total of 8.3 mb (225,000 mt) with 7.8 mb (211,000 mt) for the 2016-2017 marketing year.  Weekly export sales for grain sorghum showed a total of 1.8 mb (46,900 mt) for the 2016-2017 marketing year.  Wheat was mostly 10 to 27 cents lower.  Yellow corn was 8 to 13 cents lower.  Sorghum was 23 cents lower.  Soybeans were mostly 3 to 8 cents lower.

    Corn futures closed fractionally lower in most contracts on Friday, adding up to losses of 3.77% on the week. The Commitment of Traders report showed spec funds adding 13,392 contracts to their net short position in corn futures and options as of last Tuesday. Their net short position of 171,809 contracts is the largest reported position since September 27. Drier weather is in the short term forecast for most of the Corn Belt, with the 6-10 day forecast showing a potential for wetter conditions. Stats Canada corn planting intentions for 2017/18 are projected at 3.751 million acres, a 12.8% increase over 16/17 acreage. China offered 8,890 MT of corn reserves on Friday, as it all went unsold. They are expected to offer larger discounts and larger quantities beginning in May.

    Wheat futures were mixed on Friday, with the front months in CHI and MPLS lower. KC posted 22 3/4 cent losses (5.3%) since last Friday, with CHI losing 5.76%. MPLS meanwhile, only lost 3 3/4 cents. In the CFTC COT report, spec funds added another 7,667 contracts to their net short position in Chicago Wheat Futures and options. Planalytics, a satellite imaging company, estimates 2017 winter wheat yield at 49.8 bu/ac, a 0.8 bu/ac increase over their previous forecast. This morning’s Stats Canada report places all wheat acreage for the upcoming marketing year at 23.18 million acres, which would be down just slightly from last year. It also es timated larger than year ago spring wheat intentions at 16.66 million acres. The USDA ag attache in estimates Australian wheat production to drop to 24 MMT in 17/18, down from 35 MMT in 16/17.

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    Five Year Moving Average - Corn & Wheat:
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