With corn and especially oil prices surging forward the past couple of weeks, and demand remaining soft, calves, feeder cattle and fed cattle all took plenty of lumps last week.

At auction, feeder cattle and calves were $2-$5 lower compared to the previous week. Fed cattle broke early and lower, losing $2-$2.50 (mostly at $82-$82.50) compared to the previous week.

For perspective, at the beginning of last week, the CME Group reported its Feeder Cattle Index was $99.49 /cwt., 9.3% lower than a year ago and 8.4% lower than the five-year average. It has trended downward since then.

Looking ahead, the market is realistic or pessimistic, depending on how you look at it. Feeder cattle futures for August lost more than $5 on the week. Live-cattle futures continue to lose ground, too.

“It now appears evident that light supplies of cattle on feed will not be enough to hold the finished market, with fierce competition from plummeting hog and pork prices and additional beef being dumped on the market from the dairy buyout,” explained analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) last week.

That’s saying a mouthful. The May 1 Cattle on Feed inventory was 10.8 million head, 3% lower than a year earlier, and the 13th consecutive month of year-to-year declines, according to analysts at the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

There’s no indication the beef herd will expand any time soon. According to the May “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates:” As of April, the heifer share of steers and heifers on feed in lots of 1,000 head or more continued its upward trend, climbing from a low in April 2006, and is indicative of a lack of breeding herd expansion. “This trend, along with proportionally large cow slaughter, suggests a further decline in total cow inventories during 2009,” the report says.

Perhaps one glimmer of light for demand came in the boxed-beef trade, volume not price. According to AMS reporters, “Boxed-beef cutout values have taken a $14 drop in the last month, however the discounted prices finally provoked large volume buying with Thursday posting the largest single-day movement of Choice and Select cuts in over two years.”

The summary below reflects the week ended June 5 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.
OK 47,500 $111.35 $106.67 $101.49 $99.33 $97.12 $93.32
MO 31,200 $114.08 $106.88 $101.45 $101.55 $95.72 $92.43
TX 25,700 $106.58 $104.05 $101.54 $96.08 $95.553 $93.44
Dakotas 25,400
SD
ND

$119.72
$115.402

$111.72
$114.264

$106.18
$102.226

$110.81
$106.62

$101.32
$102.69

$96.05
$96.524
KY* 19,100 $109.44 $100.60 $94.21 $93.73 $89.12 $89.02
AL 13,400 $102.15 $97.55 $92.484 $94.40 n/a $86.194
NE 13,300 $124.27 $113.93 $107.43 $104.80 $97.57 $94.56
AR 10,400 $104.91 $97.73 $94.614 $93.98 $89.21 $87.424
MS* 7,300 $95-1071 $90-1003 $85-975 $88-981 $80-923 $75-835
Carolinas 7,000 $91-106 $85-102 $79-91 $80-96 $78-94 $75-85
IA 6,700 $116.95 $112.21 $101.13 $104.80 $97.57 $94.56
GA*(***) 6,400 $90-105 $84-103.50 $82-89 $82-96 $77-89 $76-82
TN* 5,900 $104.23 $97.98 $91.81 $93.60 $87.64 $82.47
FL* 5,700 $91-108 $89-104 $90-924 $84-99 $81-88 $80-84
NM 5,200 $105.88 $96.56 $93.13 $91.76 $90.05 $85.76
LA* 4,500 $92-103 $89-993 ** $84-103 $81-93 $80-894
KS 4,400 ** ** $98.436 $94.382 $94.85 $92.06
MT 3,900 ** $110.99 ** $101.372 $94.46 **
CO 3,700 $119.50 ** ** $96.352 $94.71 $87.00
WY 3,600 $110.522 $101.774 $96.46 $109.03 ** **
WA* 1,800 $113.00 $106.48 $104.304 $99.14 $97.06 $87.98
VA 1,700 $108.262 $104.85 $95.18 $92.842 $88.07 $81.136

* 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.