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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 26th:
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  • Bullish: Limited supplies of stocker & feeder cattle, combined with low feed costs, should support price levels throughout the fall and winter seasons. 
  • Bearish: Since trading at $263.13 on August 1st, the Choice Boxed Beef Cutout has dropped 9% to $237.66.
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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     185,100     26,900        12,100        224,100 
Last Week     191,500     36,700        79,600        307,800 
Last Year       213,800    35,800        16,700         266,300
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Compared to last week, yearling feeder cattle sold fully steady to 3.00 higher.  Yearling supplies remain tight in most areas and values remain constant.  Calf prices were unevenly steady in most areas ranging from 5.00 higher to 5.00 lower. The biggest losses on calves were those weighing over 500 lbs in most cases with gains more prevalent on lighter weight calves under 500 lbs in the Southeast.  Despite the beginning of the fall season where temperatures can be volatile there were a good number of new crop calves in the offering this week.  These unweaned calves can have a number of health issues as separation anxiety and shipping fever can take its toll on new purchases.  But, where corn producing farmer feeders are participants they have been active buyers.  The Huss Platte Valley Auction in Kearney, NE on Wednesday sold 196 head of steer calves right off the cows weighing from 602-639 lbs with an average weight of 623 lbs sold for an average price of 273.57/lb. 

Feeder cattle prices continue in most cases to hold gains day after day when there seems to be a number of reasons why they shouldn’t.  The feeder cattle market continues to show much strength when compared to the fat cattle market.  Boxed Beef continues to retreat in prices this week as Choice Boxed Beef has traded lower 10 of the past 12 sessions to fall below 240.00 at 239.13 on Wednesday of this week, but with very good volume movement of 281 total loads.  When you look at the price of corn when compared to the last two years the talk about corn harvest is the record high yields.  With lower corn prices ahead and in many areas falling well below 3.00/per bushel, cattle feeders have a tremendous incentive to feed cattle.  Also, to feed slaughter cattle to heavier weights as this will likely continue to see heavier weights throughout the fall.  At the Torrington, WY Livestock Commission on Wednesday a 159 head of fancy black steers weighing 860 lbs sold for 235.50/cwt. 

Live Cattle futures on Friday made new highs for the week with October and November trading up the limit and the front three months of Feeder Cattle futures closing limit higher.  Possibly looking at shortages to come in the future?  The markets seem to be trying to decide if it’s bearish or bullish as both sides are looking at the facts and figures; which makes for a roller coaster ride.  Feedlot trade remains inactive at this time as packers continue to try to buy cattle lower. This week’s reported auction volume included 47 percent over 600 lbs and 39 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
Oklahoma National Stockyards - Oklahoma City OK...
Actual Receipts:  7254   Last Monday:  7821   Year Ago Monday: 7914
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers traded mostly steady to 3.00 higher.  Steer and heifer calves weak to 8.00 lower.

El Reno Cattle Narrative - El Reno OK
Receipts:  4162    Last Week:  4176    Year Ago:  5234
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers sold steady.  Feeder heifers traded mostly steady to 2.00 higher.  Steer and heifer calves sold with a higher undertone on comparable sales due to last week's light offering.

Joplin Regional Stockyards Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg - Carthage MO
Receipts:  4112    Week Ago:  4421    Year Ago:  5008
Compared to last week, steer calves under 550 lbs and heifer calves steady,steer calves over 550 lbs and yearlings steady to 5.00 higher, spots 650 to 800 lbs steers 5.00 to 10.00 higher.

Huss Platte Valley Auction - Kearney NE
Receipts:  2800    Two Weeks Ago:  3066    Year Ago:  0
Compared to two weeks ago, steers and heifers under 800 lbs sold unevenly steady and those weighing over 800 lbs sold steady to 3.00 higher.

Tri-State Livestock Auction Market - McCook NE
Receipts:  1600    Last Week:  1850    Year Ago:  2800
Compared to last week, steers were steady – 10 higher and Heifers were steady – 6.00 lower.

Denison Wtd Avg Feeder Cattle Auction - Denison IA
Receipts:  2544    Two Weeks Ago:  2566    Year Ago:  3430
Compared to two weeks ago: Feeder steers under 700 pounds mostly 2.00-5.00 higher; 700-800 pounds weak; over 800 pounds generally steady.  Feeder heifers sold mostly steady to higher on comparable weights and kind.

Tulia Livestock Auction - Tulia TX
Receipts:  955    Last Week:  1253    Year Ago:  903
Compared to last week:  Feeder and stocker steers and heifers sold steady to firm on comparable sales.  Slaughter cows and bulls were steady on a light test.

Cattleman's Livestock Auction - Dalhart, TX
Cattle and Calves: 1361       Week ago: 961         Year Ago:  1477
Compared to week ago:  Feeder steers and heifers under 600 fully firm withmore attractive and reputation offerings 5.00-10.00 higher; steers and heifersover 600 lbs firm.  Slaughter cows and bulls 2.00-3.00 lower.

Clovis Livestock Auction - Clovis NM
Receipts:  889              Week Ago: 1406              Year Ago: 1720
Compared to last week:  Stocker and feeder steers and heifers under 700 lbs unevenly steady on comparable sales but a lower undertone on 300-400 lbs.  Feeders over 700 lbs 3.00-4.00 higher.  No comparison on slaughter cows and bulls due to limited receipts.

Toppenish, WA Livestock Auction - Toppenish WA
Receipts:  2010    Last Week:  1800    Year Ago:  1675
Compared to last Thursday at same sale, stocker and feeder steers steady to firm.  Stocker and feeder heifers steady to weak. Trade active with good demand. Slaughter cows 2.00-3.00 lower. Slaughter bulls steady.

Farmers & Ranchers Livestock Commission Co. - Salina KS
Receipts:  2048    Last Week:  2868    Year Ago:  2725
Compared to last week: Steers 700-1050 lbs 2.00 to 4.00 higher, 700 lbs and under not enough for a market test. Heifers due to last weeks limited receipts no true market comparison is available, however a firm undertones noted.

Sioux Falls Regional Livestock wtd Avg Report - Worthing SD
Receipts:  2453    Last Week:  1932    Year Ago:  2339
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers 2.00 higher, heifers too lightly tested this week to make an accurate comparison.  Slaughter cows steady to 2.00 lower in a light test compared to Wednesday’s sale,  bulls fully 4.00 lower.

Weekly Auction Summaries:
"Click" on individual links for complete report
Tennessee Weekly Auction Summary
Receipts on 12 TN Auctions 9,089 12 Last Week 8,800 10 Last Year 8,500
Trends:  According to the Federal-State Market News Service, comparedto the same sales one week ago, slaughter cows steady to 2.00 lower.Slaughter bulls steady to 2.00 higher. Steers/bulls steady to 7.00 higher. Heifers steady to 5.00 higher.

Mississippi Weekly Livestock Summary
Cattle Receipts:    7,602       Last Week:     9,420       Last Year:   8,314
Compared to last week, slaughter cows sold 2.00 to 5.00 lower and bulls sold mixed. Feeder steers and heifers sold steady.

Alabama Auctions Weekly Summary
Total estimated receipts this week 15,500, last week 17,976 and 16,586 last year. Compared to one week ago: Slaughter cows and bulls
sold mostly 2.00 lower. Replacement cows and pairs sold mostly
steady. All feeder classes sold steady to 5.00 higher.

Georgia Cattle Auctions Weekly Review
Cattle receipts at 25 markets 10,560 compared to 11,734 last week and11,295 year ago.
Compared to one week earlier, slaughter cows and bulls mostly steady, feeder steers and bulls steady to 3.00 higher, heifers mostly 1.00  to 4.00 higher, steer calves mostly steady to 2.00 higher, bull calves 1.00 to 3.00 higher, heifer calves steady to 2.00 higher, replacement cows mostly steady to 3.00 higher.

Colorado Auction Feeder Cattle Summary
Receipts: 717       Last Week: 1222       Last Year:  2589
Compared to last week: Feeder steers traded steady.  No Feeder heifers reported.

Direct Sales of Feeder & Stocker Cattle:
"Click" on individual links for complete report
AZ-CA-NV Weekly Feeder Cattle Review (Fri)
Confirmed: 3,205 
Compared to last week, Trade and demand moderate.  Holstein steers for January and February delivery traded steady to 5.00 higher. 

Colorado Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
Receipts: 717       Last Week: 1222       Last Year:  2589
Compared to last week: Feeder steers traded steady.  No Feeder heifers reported. 

Eastern Cornbelt Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Reported sales this week: 0    Last Week: 55    Last year: 0
Compared to last week: No trend available for feeder steers and heifers due to limited comparable sales.

Georgia Direct Cattle Summary (Fri)
Confirmed sales on 936 head.

IA-South MN Direct Feeder Cattle Weekly (Mon)
Receipts:  195    Last Week:  0    Year Ago:  0
Compared to last week, no feeder steers reported for a market test. 

Kansas Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Receipts:  3036    Last Week:  3049    Year Ago:  4176
Compared with last week: Feeder steers 2.00-6.00 higher; Feeder heifers 2.00-4.00 higher in a limited test.

Montana Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
Receipts:  0    Last Week: 1700    Year Ago:  0
Compared to last week:  No trades reported on feeder steers or heifers. 

New Mexico Feeder Cattle Report (Mon)
Receipts:  1300    Last Week:  3900    Year Ago:  2300
Compared to last week:  Not enough current comparable sales of feeder steers and heifers sold for an adequate trend.

Northwest Wtd Avg Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
Receipts 5,500        Last Week 3,350        Last Year 3,200 
Compared to last week, feeder calves less than 800 lbs. steady to weak. Feeder cattle over 800 lbs. steady to 3.00 higher. 

South Dakota Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
 Receipts: 0         Last Week: 137          Last Year: 0 
 Compared to last week:  No reported trades on feeder steers and heifers. 

WY, Western NE & Western Dakotas Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
Receipts:  767     Week Ago: 1,058   Year Ago: 2,217
Compared to last week, 900 lbs steers sold steady. 

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Cattle Futures:
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Packers may have raised their cattle bids Friday. CME traders were almost surely looking for cash market news today. Nothing had made the newswires by the CME close, with wire service reports citing short-covering for big gains, but the Chicago surge suggests beef packers raised their country bids, thereby implying firm to higher cash prices later in the day. October and December live cattle futures soared the 3.00-cent daily limit to 158.45 and 162.10 cents/pound, respectively, at their Friday settlement. Meanwhile, October and January feeder futures matched the 3.0 gains, posting respective closes at 233.10 and 226.17 cents/pound.
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Representative Sales of Cow & Pairs:
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  • Oklahoma City, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1  3-5 yrs 950-1500 lbs 3-7 months 2600.00-3200.00, 1-2 yrs 900-1000 lbs 3-7 months 2350.00-2650.00.  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 1000-1375 lbs 3-7 months 1900.00-2225.00, 6-10 yrs 1000-1350 lbs 2-7 months 1525.00-1925.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1  2-4 yrs 950-1075 lbs w/50-275 lb calves 3150.00-3200.00, 5-7 yrs 1050-1400 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 2700.00-3100.00.  Medium and Large 1-2  2-8 yrs 975-1250 lbs w/75-350 lb calves 2050.00-2500.00, 8-10 yrs 1000-1250 lbs w/75-300 lb calves 1750.00-1950.00.
  • Woodward, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2   6-8 yrs 1325-1375 lbs 4-8 months 2200.00-2400.00; 7-10+ yrs 1125-1400 lbs 4-8 months 1550.00-2050.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1  2 yrs 1000 lbs w/150 calves 3400.00.
  • El Reno, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Heifers 900-950 lbs 4-7 months 2150.00-2450.00, 2-10 yrs 950-1500 lbs 2-7 months 1700.00-2000.00, few to 2550.00, 9-10 yrs 1100-1250 lbs 2-8 months 1400.00-1775.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-3 yrs 1000-1050 lbs w/150-250 lb calves 2600.00-2850.00, 2-6 yrs 900-1150 lbs w/75-275 lb calves 2200.00-2500.00.
  • Joplin. MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 925-1100 lbs 2nd stage 1850.00-2175.00, 1st stage 925-1100 lbs 1625.00-1975.00; 7 yrs to short solid mouth 2nd stage 1200-1360 lbs 1600.00-1700.00; broken mouth to aged 3rd stage 1285-1340 lbs 1600.00-1800.00.  Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1150-1600 lbs 1950.00-2000.00.  Medium 1-2  3-6 yrs 2nd stage 1000-1050 lbs 1370.00-1650.00; short solid mouth 2nd stage pkg. 990 lbs 990.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 1000-1250 lbs w/baby to 325 lb calves 2400.00-3250.00.  Medium 1-2  2-6 yrs 800-1020 lbs w/135-155 lb calves 1800.00-2250.00. 
  • Springfield, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 950-1300 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1775.00-2300.00, 1st stage 900-1305 lbs 1425.00-1700.00; 7 yrs to short solid mouth 2nd stage 1210-1350 lbs 1420.00-1675.00; pkg. broken mouth 1st-2nd stage 1200 lbs 1375.00.  Large 1-2  2 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1235-1295 lbs 2300.00-2425.00; 5-7 yrs 2nd stage 1415-1575 lbs 1620.00-1750.00.  Medium and Large 2  2-6 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1065 lbs 1700.00, 1st stage 995-1165 lbs 1310.00-1400.00.  Medium 1-2  2-7 yrs 1st and 2nd stage 875-1015 lbs 1500.00-1600.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  pkg. 6 yrs to broken mouth 1280 lbs w/135 lb calves 2100.00.  Large 1-2  7 yrs to short solid mouth 1400-1425 lbs w/ baby to 370 lb calves 2450.00-2750.00. 
  • West Plains, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 yrs 950-1500 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 2000.00-2550.00,  consignment 36 hd 4-7 yrs 1050 lbs Red Angus 1st to 2nd stage 2050.00, short-solid mouth 1135-1550 lbs mostly in 2nd to 3rd stage 1650.00-2050.00.  Medium and Large 2  3-7 yrs 750-1455 lbs 1st to 3rd stage 1450.00-1950.00; short-solid to broken mouth 1050-1305 lbs 2nd to 3rd stage 1400.00-1725.00.  Medium 2  3 yr to broken mouth 630-965 lbs 1st to 3rd stage 900.00-1350.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  4-7 yrs 1075-1220 lbs w/150-250 lb calves 2050.00-2875.00, pkg 5 hd 1000 lb blk w/250 lb calves 2900.00; Few short-solid mouth 1178-1270 lbs w/200-250 lb calves 2200.00-2500.00.  Medium and Large 2  3-7 yrs 750-1105 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 1500.00-1825.00.
  • Bowling Green, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  Heifers 1225 lbs 3rd stage 2860.00; 5-6 yrs 1200-1350 lbs 3rd stage 2425.00-2625.00, few pkgs 2nd stage 2250.00-2330.00.  Medium 1-2 pkg 5-6 yrs 1160 lbs 3rd stage 2410.00.  Large 1 pkg 5-6 yrs 1650 lbs 3rd stage 2325.00, few pkgs 7yrs/short-solids1500-1575 lbs in 3rd stage 2050.00-2200.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2 three pkgs 5-6 yrs 1200-1300 lbs w/50-200 lb calves 2700.00-3025.00.  Medium 1-2 two pkgs 2-3 yrs 900-950 lbs w/150-250 lb calves 2725.00-2870.00. 
  • Roswell, NM
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Young 875-1275 lbs 3-6 months 1700.00-2000.00; 910-1310 lbs 1-3 months bred 1250.00-1450.00; middle aged 905-1110 lbs 3-6 months 1325.00-1400.00; 930-1170 lbs 1-3 months 1400.00-1420.00; aged 1090-1175 lbs 3-6 months 1250.00-1350.00. 
    • First Calf Heifers 755-845 lbs 1-8 months 1525.00-1675.00.
  • Arkansas
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 850-1250 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 135.00-147.00 cwt, 7-10 yrs 800-1200 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 113.00-124.00 cwt. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 yrs 800-1200 lbs w/100-300 lb calves 1700.00-2250.00, few to 2500.00. 
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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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Canadian Cattle:
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Alberta Beef Producers:  Alberta direct cattle sales Thursday saw light trade develop with live and dressed sales anywhere from 0.50 to 4.00 lower than the previous week. Locally bids did strengthen over the course of the week. Even though cash to futures basis levels weakened this week a good percentage of the cash list will be cleaned up.
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Canadian Weekly Cattle Report:
Provided by CanFax

Fed cattle steady

  • The Chicago cattle futures markets have been volatile this month, but Canadian cash prices have been steady.
  • Fed cattle averaged around $163.40 per hundredweight last week in light to moderate live trade, with a slight gain in steers and heifers down about $1.
  • Most dressed sales were $276 per cwt. delivered.
  • The cash to futures basis firmed $3 to a seasonally strong -$8.34.
  • Weekly western Canadian fed slaughter to Sept. 13 was 36,947 head, up 11 percent over the previous week, which was shortened by Labour Day.
  • Weekly fed cattle exports in the holiday-shortened week to Sept. 6 were 5,313 head, down 41 percent.
  • Alberta market-ready supplies are expected to increase modestly, while American supplies are anticipated to tighten.
  • There could be downward pressure on prices because still-strong retail beef prices could dampen demand. Futures softened during the week.
  • Packers are expected to reduce slaughter to improve margins.
Cows lower
  • Western Canadian weekly cow slaughter totalled 5,009 head, marking the first time in four weeks that slaughter fell below last year.
  • D1, D2 cows ranged $115 to $132 per cwt. to average $123.10, down about $1. D3 cows ranged $100 to $119 to average $110.33, down $1.37.
  • Rail grade cows were steady at $235-$240.
  • There are more butcher bulls at commercial auctions. Still, bull prices rose to $138.94, up $1.61.
  • Cow exports to the United States are down 11 percent this year while bull exports are up 13 percent.
  • Pasture conditions in major cattle states are the best in nearly a decade, which should support the North American non-fed complex.
  • Light feeders strong
Calf and light stocker prices soared to new highs.
  • The average price for 450 lb. feeder steers has been exceptionally strong for three weeks at more than $30 per cwt. more than the 550 lb. weight class average.
  • Steers in the 550 lb. class are fetching $23.82 more than heifers in the same weight class.
  • Many cow-calf producers appear to be retaining their first cut or potential seed stock females and are marketing their second and third cut heifers. Meanwhile, most steers being marketed are first cut feeders.
  • This has likely contributed to the wide steer-heifer price spread.
  • Rain and snow in recent weeks are increasing the amount of feed quality grain, which is pressuring feed barley prices lower.
  • Historically low placements over the past two months should maintain feedlot interest.
Beef prices weaken
  • Packer margins turned negative, discouraging them from paying more for cattle.
  • Canadian cutouts to Sept 5 were lower with AAA falling to $257.65, down $5.22 from the previous week, and AA at $250.15, down $2.16.
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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 $0.9014 dollars
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Prices for the week ending September 19th:
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Cold Storage Report:
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  • Total red meat supplies in freezers were down slightly from the previous month and down 7 percent from last year. 
    • Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 6 percent from the previous month and down 20 percent from last year. 
    • Frozen pork supplies were up 2 percent from the previous month but down slightly from last year. 
    • Stocks of pork bellies were down 29 percent from last month but up 136 percent from last year.
  • Total frozen poultry supplies on August 31, 2014 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 14 percent from a year ago. 
    • Total stocks of chicken were up slightly from the previous month but down 13 percent from last year. 
    • Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 1 percent from last month but down 15 percent from August 31, 2013.
Total Frozen Beef Stocks the Smallest Since 1998

Monday’s USDA Cold Storage report showed total frozen beef stocks the smallest since 1998. Usually cold storage has little to no implications on the beef side, while storing bellies and hams is very much a part of the pork world. But in this time of acutely short lean beef supplies, dramatically small frozen beef stocks are yet one more limitation for grinders looking for raw material.

And given that non-fed slaughter is running and will continue to run below the recent years of heavy cow liquidation, beef stocks won’t be replenished for an extended period of time.

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CME Cattle Futures Tired of Bad News:
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It’s Friday and CME cattle futures are ignoring bad news as they make new highs for the week, with spot Oct LC in the lead, trading more than a 150 points higher than its low made Monday. All cattle contracts are also higher than last Friday’s close and technical indicators are turning up. Oct LC is trading par to last week’s 5-Area average as the basis change continues. Perhaps this market is ready to look past the immediate well-known negative fundamentals and instead focus on the shortages to come in the not-to-distant future?

Both Sides Now

In markets, it’s the duality of the facts, left to the interpretation of traders, minute to minute that makes this business both fascinating and frustrating. We’ve got a list of those confounding traders this morning. Bearish or bullish?

  • Boxed beef values drop to the lowest level since June. But lower prices stimulate demand and the industry moves 629 fab loads week-to-date, 73 more than a week ago and 123 more than 2 weeks ago for the same time frame.  And the seasonal bottom in the cutout and many cuts is just a short time away, as end users position themselves for holiday demand. 
  • Packer margins red, packers cut kills and cattle weights are record high. Conclusion, we’ve lost currentness and are backing up cattle. But are there really enough total numbers of market ready cattle for the next 5 months to create a real back log? 
  • Cash cattle prices are weak as the Corn Belt cattle feeder gets picked off as low as $153 and $242 dressed. Well, that was true yesterday. But with last week’s negotiated trade on of the smallest of this year and one of the smallest ever, can packers really keep the pressure on cash prices when they’ll need inventory soon because they didn’t buy them last week? 
Not too many weeks ago, analysts were predicting a monumental hole in fed cattle availability for the fourth and first quarters. Record weights and smaller than mathematically predicted slaughter in the third quarter have conspired to create a much less bullish outlook than held just a few months ago. 

And that really is the crux of the matter. Everyone knows we’ll be short. Cattle feeder, packer and end user. It the “just how short” that is the unanswerable question, so we look for clues along the way so we don’t get caught leaning too far one way or the other. Because the Bull of 2014 has brought with it some of the greatest risk and biggest P&L changes most of us have seen in a lifetime in this business. With winter on the way, the apex of shortages still in front of us, that uneasy feeling that a potential vertical move and higher highs remains very, very real.

The Beef

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Canada & EU Sign Trade Agreement:
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The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) cheers today’s declaration signed in Ottawa that Canada and the European Union (EU) have concluded the negotiations for a free trade agreement. Today’s declaration follows the historic agreement-in-principle for a Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) reached last October and means the complete text will commence the ratification process in both Europe and Canada.

CCA President Dave Solverson called the CETA an outstanding agreement for Canadian beef producers and thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz for their demonstrated commitment to move the agreement forward. Once ratified and implemented, the CETA will provide new duty-free access for 64,950 tonnes of Canadian beef valued at nearly $600 million annually, with the lion’s share of the quota reserved for Canada alone.

“The CCA would like to see the same unanimous endorsement from all the provinces and territories that the agreement-in-principle received last fall,” Solverson said. “The CCA urges the Federal and Provincial governments to move quickly to implement the agreement as soon as possible.”

The agreement has been hailed as a game changer for Canada’s beef industry, as the removal of longstanding barriers in this agreement, such as high tariffs, enables Canadian beef producers to benefit from the high value that the European beef market represents.

The CCA has been working on the CETA from the outset of negotiations in 2009, engaging with the Canadian negotiating team and conducting advocacy with key EU and Member State officials and industry representatives. CCA representatives attended numerous negotiating rounds in Brussels and Ottawa and met regularly with the Canadian negotiators of CETA to ensure they clearly understood the needs of Canada’s beef sector.

For the Canadian beef sector, CETA will produce duty free access for 64,950 tonnes. Of this, 50,000 tonnes, consisting of 35,000 tonnes of fresh/chilled beef and 15,000 tonnes of frozen beef, are reserved for Canada. In addition, Canada will see the 20 per cent duty on the existing 14,950 tonne Hilton quota shared with the U.S. reduced immediately to zero. Canada will also continue to have access to the existing shared duty free quota for high quality grain-fed beef. Combined with the new access, there is a potential to reach more than 100,000 tonnes per year of duty free access for Canadian beef. Additionally, all live cattle, genetics and most beef offals and processed beef products will benefit from immediate unlimited duty free access.

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Photo of the Week:
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  • Angus Plus & Brangus Bred Heifers... Northwest GA*
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    The Other Market:
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    It is no secret that many cattle are trading each week intentionally outside normal and mandatory reporting services. The volume of these transactions is increasing every week and the volume of reported trades is in steady decline to the point where the reported trade is so small as to render it unreliable as a pricing tool. It is also no surprise that unreported transactions are designed to sabotage and undermine the reported market.

    Unreported cattle transactions is not something new. Before mandatory price reporting, it was not unusual for packers to award a cattle owner a premium for a pen of cattle if the cattle owner would willingly not report the price. Not all cattle are created equal. If selling were limited to all live cash trade, each pen of cattle should properly be assigned a different value. Problem is every cattle owner thinks his/her cattle should bring the top price. This was the backdrop for blanket selling of multiple pens all at the same price resulting in price averaging by the packer of all the pens purchased from a feedyard.

    Markets are made at the margins when demand requires more inventory by the packers acquired by advancing the price or increasing supplies require sellers to drop asking prices. In the current trading environment, when packers have purchased all the cattle they are able to purchase at $159 or $160 and they still need additional inventory, the additional cattle are purchased outside reporting channels. The two most common methods are: 1) basis trades to the spot CME live cattle contract; or 2) $xx over the weekly reported top price in the region. Both of these transactions will be turned in as formulas meaning they are lost to public cash price reporting.

    As many as half of all marketing programs for cattle are formula. These formulas are priced off the reported cash prices.  Packer purchases outside the mandatory price reporting prevents formula pricing from being impacted by the higher "off the balance sheet" unreported transactions. This practice links the formula sellers to the lowest available prices for the week.

    Reforming the price reporting requires a redesign of the mandatory price system. No price reporting system will be perfect and a redesign of the current reporting will be tested by all the participants -- each trying to game the new rules to their advantage. Probably the most effective pricing mechanism is trading cattle basis the futures. The transactions would be reported at the time of trade with a flat price reported to mandatory price reporting as determined by the basis to the futures at that exact time. The mandatory price reporting service would report a flat price used for reporting a daily and weekly summary as well as a daily and weekly basis summary. 

    Ag Center Cattle Report

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    The Saga of Bart -- Trials & Tribulations of a Cattle Buyer
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    During a lull in the action while the ring was emptied of cattle, the auctioneer read from a note he had just received, "Hey guys, a gentleman lost his wallet and is offering a $2,000 reward if you find it." 

    Bart immediately deduced there must be a wad of cash in the lost wallet and he began frantically waving at the auctioneer, who asked, "Did you find it, Bart?" 

    "Nope" Bart said.  "I'm bidding $2,500 for it."

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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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    U.S. Dollar Surges:
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    The U.S. dollar index surged to a 4.5-year high this week, with the greenback reaching a six-year high versus the Japanese Yen and nearing its five-year peak against the Brazilian Real. The gains reflect the geopolitical situation, widespread national efforts to devalue their currencies and the comparative strength of the U.S. economy. 

    Whatever the underlying cause, the fact that the dollar is quite elevated when compared to the currencies of major commodity customers such as Japan and active export competitors such as Brazil implies diminished international demand for U.S. agricultural products. 

    Unfortunately, this could exert additional pressure upon ag product prices during the weeks and months ahead.

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    Correlation Between Calm Cattle & Carcass Quality:
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    Easily excitable cattle can be dangerous to themselves and cattle-handling personnel. And according to a recent project conducted at North Dakota State University, they may also have lower quality carcasses than calmer cattle.

    The study, which was conducted from August 2013 to February 2014, looked at the relationship between temperament, feeding behavior, growth performance and carcass characteristics. Steers were fed a common growing and finishing ration and feeding behavior and feedlot performance traits were measured throughout the study.

    Temperament was measured by exit velocity, the time it took steers to cover the distance between the head catch and the overhead door exiting the working facilities, when steers were handled every 28-days throughout the study.

    Carcass characteristics, including ribeye area, marbling, back fat, yield grade, kidney, pelvic and heart fat, hot carcass weight, dressing percentage, and liver abscess score, were collected at the processing plant.

    According to the study, temperament did not have significant correlation with feeding behavior or growth performance.

    With regard to carcass characteristics, the calmer steers, or those that exited the chute at a slower speed, had better hot carcass weights and marbling and tended to have better yield grades than steers that excited the chute at a faster rate of speed.

    The complete study is available here

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    Margin between the Choice Boxed Beef Cutout & Feeder Steers:
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    5 Year Average: $45.60 --- This Week: $11.62
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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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    Re-Breeding Open Cows for Fall Calves:

    Conventional wisdom has held that open cows should be sold after pregnancy detection; either immediately or after a feeding period to add weight and avoid low prices for cull cows that are typically observed in the fall. However, considering current economic conditions in the cattle business should this practice always be followed without question?

    Exposing open cows for a fall calving season may make economic sense this year. The value of all classes of cattle has increased greatly in the last year at the same time that feed costs have decreased. Currently a 1250 pound young cow is very similar in value to a feeder calf suitable for backgrounding. Using today’s cheaper feedstuffs and the existing bull battery, she could be exposed to breeding for a fall calf. Thus there may be an opportunity in some cases to increase ranch profitability by breeding open cows, either as a complement to the spring-calving herd, or to be sold to other producers looking for fall-calving cows.

    The best candidates for this strategy would be young cows that have the most productive life remaining and the greatest potential for added value when sold later as a bred cow compared to her current value as a cull cow. Older cows would not be great candidates for this strategy because they have much less productive life remaining and it’s unlikely that there would be enough extra value to capture to make the effort worthwhile. The situation is very similar with yearling heifers; their value as open feedlot heifers will be relatively high compared to what they would be worth as a fall-bred female. Another important factor to consider with yearling heifers is that reproductive failure in these cattle is much more likely to be caused by inherent fertility problems that wouldn’t be corrected with additional chances at breeding.

    A concern that some producers might have is that re-breeding open females might perpetuate genetics associated with poorer fertility. That is a valid concern, especially if these cows were used to produce replacements, or if these are young females with little or no history of reproductive success. This becomes much less of a concern if these cows are used in a terminal system where all calves end up in the feedlot. If this strategy is followed, accurate production records should be kept to make sure that cows are only given one extra chance, and not carried over multiple times.

    Another factor that needs to be accounted for is feed supply. If there is any question that the feed supply on the ranch will not be sufficient to make it until the start of the grazing season next spring, open cows should be culled regardless of age. The surest way to reap the rewards that the marketplace is offering to keep as many productive cows in the herd as the available feed supply will support. If available feed supplies are limited, retaining additional cattle that won’t produce calves next spring makes little sense if that decision leads to premature culling or liquidation.

    Warren Rusche, South Dakota State University Extension

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    Slaughter Cows & Bulls:
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    Slaughter cows steady to 2.00 lower. Slaughter bulls steady to firm.

    USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was 234.31 -- Down 0.57 from last Friday.

                   %Lean      Weight        Colorado          Oklahoma        Alabama 
    Breakers  75-80%     1100-1600    117.00-119.00    121.00-125.00    110.00-116.00
    Boners     80-85%     1000-1450    116.00-120.00    118.00-125.00    111.00-116.00
    Lean        85-90%     1000-1300    113.00-115.00    109.00-116.00    100.00-105.00
    Bulls        88-92%     1300-2500    139.00-144.00    137.50-144.50    131.00-137.00

    Negotiated Sale of Packer Cows & Bulls:

                      Confirmed  Week Ago   Year Ago  Week to Date   Week Ago   Year Ago
    NATIONAL     5,974      6,013            8,356         33,863          34,506         43,297
    S CENTRAL   1,306     1,292             2,071          6,941             7,415          9,632
    N CENTRAL      381        596               506          2,339             1,887          2,327
    EAST             1,877     1,937             2,195         10,948          10,780        11,612
    WEST            1,466     1,149             2,017          7,797             8,192       10,609
    MIDWEST         944     1,039             1,567          5,838             6,232         9,117

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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 23, were mixed but mostly steady to lower. 
    • Soybean Meal was 21.20 to 184.20 lower. Cottonseed Meal was steady to 20.00 to 25.00 higher.  Canola Meal has no comparison.  Linseed Meal was mixed, 45.00 lower to 30.00higher.  Sunflower Meal was steady to 5.00 higher. 
    • Whole Cottonseed was steady to 15.00 lower.
    • Crude Soybean Oil was mixed 58 points lower to 63 points higher.  Crude Corn Oil was steady. 
    • Ruminant Meat and Bone Meal was mixed, 50.00 lower to 2.00 higher mostly 20.00 to 50.00 lower.  Ruminant Blood Meal was mixed, 75.00 lower to 30 higher mostly steady to 75.00 lower.  Feather Meal was steady to 10.00 lower. Menhaden Fishmeal was steady. 
    • Corn Hominy was steady to 30.00 lower mostly steady to 2.00 lower. Corn Gluten Feed was steady to 20.00 lower.  Corn Gluten Meal was steady to 55.00 lower. 
    • Distillers Dried Grains were mixed, 25.00 lower to 15.00 higher mostly steady to 15.00 lower. 
    • Wheat Middlings were steady to 8.00 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 27, 2014 was estimated at 915.2 million lbs. according to the U.S.Department of Agriculture's Marketing Service. This was 1.3 percent higher than a week ago and 3.7 percent lower than a year ago.  Cumulative meat production for the year to date was 4 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 23rd
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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus - Corn
    Last Updated: September 23rd
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    National Economic News:
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    S&P 500 surrenders previous week's gain: Stocks retreated for the week as investors appeared to react to new geopolitical worries while growing more concerned about whether equity valuations will be able to withstand an eventual increase in short-term interest rates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fared somewhat better than the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, which surrendered all of the previous week's gain. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index performed poorly. One factor favoring the narrowly focused Dow over the other two benchmarks was its exclusion of Apple, which fell sharply following news of problems with its new iPhone 6 and iOS 8 mobile operating system. The smaller-cap benchmarks performed worst, however.

    Several factors suspected behind Thursday's sell-off: The major damage to stock prices occurred on Thursday, when the S&P 500 suffered its largest daily pullback since July 31. The decline in heavily weighted Apple was partly to blame, but the catalyst for the broader sell-off was unclear. Several sources blamed reports that Russian authorities might seize Western assets in retaliation for sanctions, and the escalation of fighting in Syria may have also played a role. Some pointed as well to a headline-grabbing 18.2% decline in durable goods order in August. The pullback reflected a swing in civilian aircraft orders, however-orders had surged 22.5% in July-and was only slightly greater than most analysts expected.

    U.S. manufacturing sector remains robust: Investors' reaction to the news might have been exacerbated by the recent rise in the U.S. dollar versus other currencies, which some worry will weigh on the competitiveness of American firms by making U.S. goods more expensive overseas. U.S. manufacturing signals have remained strong for the time being, however; data show manufacturing activity expanding at a faster clip in the U.S. than in any other major economy. 

    Upward revision to growth estimates may help spark rally to end week: Stocks regained some momentum at the end of the week. The Commerce Department announced Friday morning that the economy had grown at its fastest pace since the end of 2011, which may have been one factor in helping stocks recover much of the previous day's losses. Briefing.com reported that trading volume was light, however.

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    • Orders for durable U.S. goods plunged by a record 18.2% in August after a record 22.5% gain in July, mainly because of up-and-down demand for airplanes. Orders rose by 0.7% if the volatile transportation sector is stripped out and business investment also increased, government data showed, a sign that companies continue to spend at a moderate pace. Orders for core capital goods - a broader measure of business investment - climbed by 0.6% in August, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Shipments of core capital goods, a category used to calculate quarterly economic growth, edged up by 0.1% and rose for the fourth straight month.
    • Falling for the first time in five months, sales of existing homes declined 1.8% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday. NAR attributed the drop to fewer all-cash sales to investors. Economists had expected the sales rate to increase to 5.2 million in August from an originally reported 5.15 million in July.  However, sales of new single-family homes surged 18% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000, the fastest pace in more than six years, led by the West, according to government data released Wednesday. August's result beat forecasts from economists who had expected a sales rate of 426,000, compared with an originally estimated pace of 412,000 for July, and may ease some concerns about the recovery's performance. 
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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 September 25-30 period, a large upper-level trough of low pressure will begin moving over the western CONUS from the Pacific. Temperatures will be warmer than normal for much of the country at the beginning of this period, but become cooler than normal in the West near the end of the period. The trough should bring precipitation to much of the West, with an inch or more expected from northern California to the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, and an inch or more over much of the Northern Rockies. The precipitation is expected to miss southern California. Bands of frontal precipitation are likely in parts of the Plains and Midwest, in the Southeast, and along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts, although the precipitation is forecast to miss large parts of the Plains to Midwest.
    • The upper-level pattern will slowly migrate to the east during October 1-8. The 6-10 day and 8-14 day outlooks indicate that the temperature pattern will be below normal in the West and above normal in the East, with above-normal temperatures eventually returning to the West Coast. The precipitation pattern should transition to drier than normal in the West and wetter than normal from the Rockies to the Great Lakes and Southeast as the weather-producing systems migrate eastward. An upper-level ridge over the eastern Pacific is expected to bring above-normal temperatures to Alaska, with wetter-than-normal conditions to the southern coastal locations and drier-than-normal conditions to the interior Alaskan locations.
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    Commercial Red Meat Production Down 10% from 1 Year Ago:
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    Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.80 billion pounds in August, down 10 percent from the 4.20 billion pounds produced in August 2013.

    Beef production, at 2.02 billion pounds, was 10 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.50 million head, down 11 percent from August 2013. The average live weight was up 19 pounds from the previous year, at 1,329 pounds.

    Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA

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    Feedyard Closeouts: Profit/(Loss)
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    • Typical closeout for steers sold this week & hedged when placed on feed: ($95.33)
    • Typical closeoudot for un-hedged steers sold this week: $218.10
    • Projected closeout based on the futures & estimated Cost of Gain for steers placed on feed this week: ($29.75)
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    Slaughter Cattle:
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    Friday negotiated cash trade was mostly inactive on light demand in Nebraska and the Western Cornbelt. Trade was at a standstill on light demand in the Southern Plains and Colorado. The latest established market was last week with live sales in the Southern Plains and Colorado at 159.00 however sales in the Texas Panhandle and Colorado were on a very light test. Last week in Nebraska live sales sold from 155.00-159.00 with dressed sales mostly at 245.00. In the Western Cornbelt last week, live sales sold from 154.00-155.00 with dressed sales from 244.00-246.00. 

    The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending September 13 was 889 pounds, unchanged from the week before and 22 pounds heavier than the same week last year. This was the 13th consecutive week with weights above year-ago and the biggest year-over-year increase in steer carcass weights since the first week of 2013.
     
    Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection:
                                              CATTLE   CALVES   HOGS          SHEEP
    Friday 09/26/2014      (est)      104,000      2,000       368,000          6,000
    Week ago (est)                      106,000      2,000       369,000          6,000
    Year ago (act)                        110,000      3,000       415,000          5,000
    Week to date (est)                 555,000     10,000    2,032,000        39,000
    Same Period Last Week (est) 562,000     10,000    2,016,000        39,000
    Same Period Last Year (act)   596,000     14,000    2,125,000        41,000

    Saturday 09/27/2014      (est)    17,000         0            63,000         0
    Week ago (est)                          9,000         0            34,000         0
    Year ago (act)                          28,000         0            62,000         0
    Week to date (est)                  572,000     10,000    2,095,000        39,000
    Same Period Last Week (est)  571,000     10,000    2,050,000        39,000
    Same Period Last Year* (act)  625,000     15,000     2,187,000       41,000
    2014 Year to Date              22,242,000   434,000   76,907,000   1,557,000
    2013 *Year to Date            2 3,928,000   553,000   81,223,000   1,567,000
    Percent change                      -7.0%        -21.5%       -5.3%          -0.6%

    Negotiated prices paid for Slaughter Steers and Heifers:
    Extremely light trade this week

    Live basis             Steers                                 Heifers
    Over 80% Choice    153.00-155.00 avg 154.32         - 
    65 - 80% Choice            -                                      - 
    35 - 65% Choice            -                                      - 
    0 - 35% Choice             -                                       - 
    Total all grades    153.00-155.00 avg 154.32         - 

    Dressed basis
    Over 80% Choice    242.00-245.00 avg 243.92   242.00-245.00 avg 243.35
    65 - 80% Choice     244.00-244.00 avg 244.00   242.00-244.00 avg 243.54
    35 - 65% Choice            -                                     - 
    0 - 35% Choice             -                                      - 
    Total all grades    242.00-245.00 avg 243.94   242.00-245.00 avg 243.43
     

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    Corn Crop Condition:
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    National Grain Summary:
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    Grains traded lower to end the week, as harvest pressure and record yields are weighing in on grain prices.
    • Corn Futures Summary: Dollar strength and European news depressed corn futures Friday. Although the equity markets rebounded today, the U.S. dollar surged as well. That implies increased costs for export customers. News of a modest sale to Mexico was more than offset by a 4.0 million tonne boost in ADM’s 2014 harvest forecast for Europe. December corn futures slipped 3.0 cents to $3.23/bushel at their Friday close, while May lost 3.25 to $3.4425.
    • Soybean Futures Summary: The soy complex dropped despite Asian palm strength. Soybean and product futures also declined Friday, which likely reflected perfect harvest weather, huge production expectations and continued U.S. dollar strength. Another rise in Asian palm prices failed to stem the bearish tide. November soybean futures fell 12.5 cents to $9.1025/bushel in late Friday trading, while October soyoil dropped 0.70 cents to 31.92 cents/pound, and October soymeal sagged $5.2 to $307.2/ton.
    • Wheat Futures Summary: Wheat futures proved surprisingly stable. The International Grains Council boosted its global production estimate to a fresh record Thursday evening, which explains the Thursday night decline in wheat futures. Huge U.S. corn and bean supplies and the surging dollar aren’t helping the bullish cause; that made the late-week wheat firmness that much more impressive. December CBOT wheat closed up 0.25 cent at $4.7425/bushel Friday afternoon, while December KC wheat skidded 0.5 cent to $5.6375/bushel, but December MWE wheat slid 3.0 to $5.3325.
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    Five Year Moving Average - Corn & Wheat
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    Your Suggestions:
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