“The demand for heavier feedlot replacements improved in all regions last week, even though bullish support has been sparse to push yearling prices beyond current levels,” say analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

Likewise, demand for lighter weights increased last week, especially in the Southeast. All told, feeder and stocker prices were reported at steady to $3 higher. Fed-cattle prices inched up to mostly $85-$86/cwt. on a live basis, despite negative market news including surging grain prices and last week’s announced dairy herd retirement program (see “100,000 Dairy Cows Coming To Town”).

“The idea of tight supplies of beef cattle at every level continues to be the ace in the hole for feeder-cattle prices,” say the AMS analysts. “Many cattle industry members who deal with supply and demand issues every day feel that feeder-cattle numbers are even tighter than published data has depicted, and these investors are hoping to benefit from the gamble of having some on hand when the shortage is realized.”

By quarter, the most recent “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” (WASDE) published by USDA last week pegs the Choice Steer price at an average $85-$87 in the second quarter, $85-$91 in the third quarter, and $87-$95 in the fourth. The predicted annual average in May is $85-$88, below last year’s average of $92.97.

WASDE analysts expect less beef production this year because of tighter cattle supplies. They explain, “Smaller calf crops through 2009 are expected to result in a smaller pool of cattle outside feedlots during 2010. Marketable cattle supplies may be further reduced if producers begin rebuilding herds by retaining calves for addition to the breeding herd.” Between the tighter supplies and anticipated improvement in domestic and export demand, WASDE estimates higher cattle prices in 2010.

The summary below reflects the week ended May 15 for Medium and Large 1 – 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb. (calves), 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 29,200 $116.67 $108.83 $102.86 $102.17 $100.43 $95.20
TX 23,600 $107.80 $103.75 $102.27 $99.65 $95.97 $92.48
KY* 22,200 $108.37 $102.19 $94.40 $94.65 $89.28 $87.63
OK 21,400 $117.59 $109.21 $103.59 $104.52 $99.06 $93.94
Dakotas 21,300
SD
ND

$117.57
$115.89

$112.64
$113.69

$108.28
$103.41

$109.05
$104.50

$105.12
$100.69

$97.94
$94.806
AL 10,800 $108.25 $100.30 $92.28 $94.10 $89.48 $86.84
KS 9,800 ** $108.964 $103.24 $106.21 $99.85 $95.27
AR 7,400 $110.84 $102.83 $98.704 $96.99 $92.37 $89.984
GA*(***) 6,800 $93-111 $89-107 $84-94 $84-104 $80-93 $75-86
Carolinas 6,600 $95.50-113 $89-102.50 $87-96.50 $80-98 $80-93 $74-86.50
FL* 6,200 $95-106 $85-99 $80-85 $82-101 $70-92 $84-924
MS* 6,000 $96-1061 $90-1033 $85-945 $86-941 $80-903 $77-855
NE 6,000 $129.89 $114.12 $105.31 $110.94 $102.11 $93.15
TN* 5,600 $106.05 $99.67 $91.93 $93.78 $88.86 $83.21
CO 5,000 $123.13 $113.24 $96.097 $111.88 $101.18 $89.28
VA 4,600 $110.67 $107.35 $95.78 $94.63 $89.61 $88.44
IA 4,200 $119.17 $110.74 $107.22 $108.26 $94.86 $98.31
LA* 3,400 $97-112 $91-104 $91-974 $84-103 $82-101 $82-874
MT 2,700 $120.60 $109.604 $98.946 $105.76 $98.89 $94.73
WY 2,600 $117.15 ** ** $107.47 $107.86 $89.416
NM 2,000 $114.84 $101.18 $94.61 $95.57 $95.54 $83.277
WA* 1,900 ** ** $91.467 ** ** **

* Plus 2
** None reported of the same quality at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
(?) As reported, but questionable
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.