Calves for summer grass are getting cheaper, at least in relative terms, but so is everything else.

Feeder and stocker cattle lost another $2-$5 last week, with too many markets moving $10 lower to be considered extraordinary.

"The lightest demand continues for heavy feeders, weighing more than 800 lbs., and the best interest remains for 6-weight hard-weaned or yearling stockers in ideal condition for summer grass," explain Ag Marketing Service reporters. "Backgrounders seem to have over-pursued these cattle over the last few weeks, pushing their prices beyond the realm of profitability for current market conditions."

Plenty of cattle feeders are surely thinking the same thing. The best that could be said for that market last week is Southern Plains feeders mounted a hollow victory of sorts, holding buyers to only $1 less at $83.00-$83.50. Live sales in the Northern Plains were $3 under that, and dressed sales were $5 lower at mostly $129.

You can find plenty of reasons for the recent price plunge, most of them expected. There's more cattle going in and coming out of feedlots. Those cattle continue to serve up heavier carcass weights, too. The equity funds that pushed the futures market when they bought in earlier in the year are running the other way. Trade with the Pacific Rim is still in limbo, etc., etc.

In his recent markets newsletter, Brian Roe, Ohio State University (OSU) Extension livestock economist, points out, "In January, beef supplies were up by 7% compared to year previous, while first-quarter supplies will be 6% higher than last year. Not surprisingly, cash prices dropped about $0.75/cwt each week during the first quarter of this year... This is distinctly counter-seasonal and begs the question, 'Is the decline over?' Sadly, for feedlot operators who paid top dollar for feeder cattle last fall and winter, the answer is no."

According to Roe, beef supplies in the second quarter will be up at least 6% compared to last year, and perhaps increase as much as 9%. All the while, he explains poultry cold-storage supplies are 45% larger than last year, due in part to global consumers' growing aversion to it because of avian influenza.

So, from both a fundamental standpoint and from a psychological one, the bears are having their way.

The summary below reflects the week ended April 7 for Medium and Large 1 -- 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb., and 700- to 750-lb. feeder heifers and steers (unless otherwise noted). The list is arranged in descending order by auction volume and represents sales reported in the weekly USDA National Feeder and Stocker Cattle Summary:

Summary Table State Volume Steers Heifers Calf Weight 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs. 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs. MO 34,600 $132.22 $121.64 $105.25 $115.88 $108.01 $94.61 OK 27,100 $135.30 $122.15 $106.37 $118.63 $106.52 $93.85 TX 25,000 $125.70 $113.77 $104.61 $116.57 $102.68 $94.61 KY* 21,100 $113-123 $100-110 $88-985 $100-111 $91-1013 $82-925 Dakotas 16,800 North Dakota South Dakota $125.282 $134.64 $110.094 $124.30 $110.14 $108.53 $116.212 $118.022 $112.20 $111.07 $96.59 $99.07 NE 15,500 $138.25 $123.89 $112.83 $120.44 $109.35 $96.30 IA 14,900 $135.43 $124.87 $110.49 $123.48 $111.85 $99.87 KS 13,500 $133.43 $117.93 $105.25 $120.44 $109.35 $96.30 AL 8,800 $119-126 $115-1212 ** $111-120 $97-108 $93-974 GA*(***) 7,700 $100-120 $94-110 $85-94 $97-115 $89-106 $82-86 TN* 7,500 $120.42 $106.04 $95.26 $110.20 $100.04 $90.65 CO 7,300 $134.95 $115.60 $102.96 $120.11 $113.92 $97.144 AR 7,000 $124.57 $110.44 $101.86 $112.37 $99.73 $94.57 VA 6,000 $116.83 $113.41 $100.66 $102.10 $97.74 $88.62 WY 5,600 $135.25 $110.084 $109.25 $124.40 $115.38 $97.73 FL 4,900 $107-120 $97-125 $102-106 $100-119 $88-101 $81-91 Carolinas* 4,700 $99-127 $89-1133 $79-98.755 $91-115 $75-983 $73-915 MS* 4,100 $110-1201 $100-110 $90-1005 $100-1101 $90-1003 ** MT 4,000 $142.92 $124.50 $107.396 $128.27 $114.02 $102.80 NM 3,700 ** $105.30 $97.006 ** ** $87.216 LA* 2,800 $108-126 $110-1192 ** $101-120 $98-1132 ** WA* 1,700 ** $116.48 $107.94 $113.97 $103.53 $100.814

* Plus 2 ** None reported at this weight or near weight (***) Steers and bulls NDNo Description 1500-600 lbs. 2550-600 lbs. 3600-700 lbs. 4650-700 lbs. 5700-800 lbs. 6750-800 lbs. 7800-850 lbs.