Although undeveloped through Wednesday afternoon, there was some negotiated cash fed cattle trade in Kansas, with live prices $2 higher than last week at $118/cwt.
Similarly, Choice steers and heifers sold $3.00-$3.25 higher at the fat auction in Tama, IA on Wednesday. There were 124 Ch 2-4 steers weighing an average of 1,477 lbs. that brought an average of $118.12.
Cattle futures closed higher, supported by positive fundamentals, this week’s winter storms and the presumption that Tyson’s Kansas plant will resume operation next week.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 77¢ higher (47¢ higher to $1.02 higher at the front of the board.
Other than 57¢ higher in the back contract, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.52 higher.
Wholesale beef values were firm on Choice and lower on Select with light to moderate demand and light offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 40¢ higher Wednesday afternoon at $232.24/cwt. Select was $1.65 lower at $210.64.
Corn futures closed mostly 3¢ to 5¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed 2¢ to 3¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed higher again Wednesday on strong economic data. For instance, new durable goods orders were 0.6% higher than the previous month, while economist consensus was for a decline. As well, the Bureau of Economic Analysis revised estimated third-quarter GDP 0.2% higher to 2.1%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 42 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 13 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 57 points.
“Lifetime animal health management is increasingly recognized as a significant challenge for the beef cattle industry with implications ranging from fetal programming that impacts lifetime health and productivity; to genetic identification of disease susceptibility; to improved economic incentives for better coordination of animal health management across multiple production sectors,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University. “Improved animal health management not only increases ranch returns but increases value to the entire industry.”
In recent market comments, Peel points out Kansas feedlot survey data underscores what stocker operators and feedlots know far too well: health challenges continue to increase over time.
For instance, based on the aforementioned data, Peel says average feedlot death loss nearly doubled from 0.82% in 1995-1996 to 1.60% in the most recent 24 months. He adds that Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) causes 70-80% of feedlot morbidity and 40-50% of feedlot mortality.
“Preconditioning programs add value to cattle and the value is consistently reflected in premiums for certified preconditioned calves sold under programs such as the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN). Weaning is arguably the most important component of preconditioning and preconditioning protocols routinely call for a minimum of 45 days of weaning prior to marketing calves,” Peel explains. “Anecdotal indications are that 45 days is becoming a bare minimum with 60 or more days of weaning preferred by buyers struggling with the continuing health challenges of cattle. Calves noted as un-weaned are currently discounted 4-5% in Oklahoma auctions.”
Basis the $162.36/cwt. paid for Medium and Large #1 steers weighing an average of 527 lbs. at Oklahoma National Stockyards on Monday, that was a discount of $6.49 to $8.12/cwt. or roughly $30-$40 per calf.
Of course, some producers are unable to wean and precondition calves, while the added return falls short of added cost and risk for others. In those cases, Peel emphasizes other management that helps increase calf health; such things as complete vaccinations, deworming, castration and dehorning ahead of marketing.