The onset of June soon found solid footing for cattle markets with feedlots stopping the bleeding at $104 while feeders were supported by the anticipation and subsequent results of another cattle-on-feed report that fell early in the month. Like a baseball umpire making up for a bad call with another, analysts bombed May’s placements in the opposite direction as April’s with new cattle going into feedyards during May totaling nearly 11 percent less than the same week in 2010. Many are expecting even tighter placements over the next couple months with few left on pasture from the smallest calf crop in 50 years. In addition, corn markets fell by over $1.00/bu in the latter part of June and forward delivery contracts of boxed beef posted a record volume as fed cattle ended up gaining $6.00 to $8.00 by month’s end. Yearling feeders sold sharply higher as summer officially began with prices settling the month $8.00 to $12.00 higher - falling just shy of the record levels of late March.  However, stocker cattle and calf values continued very sporadic throughout the month and all over the country (depending on the availability of pasture) with lighter-weight cattle under 700 pounds settling the monthly trading session unevenly steady to just $3.00 higher.

Experts warned that the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated Japan (killing 15,500 people with over 7,300 still missing) could alter weather patterns all over the world for quite some time. Perhaps this helps explain the deadly tornadoes and hopeless drought situation in the southwestern United States that continues to worsen. During June, historic fires ravaged Arizona and New Mexico while most of Texas has yet to see a drop of rain in the last nine months while cow/calf producers have been forced to wean and sell-off 200 to 300-pound calves (that normally would be grown until late-fall) in an effort to maintain their core cow herd.  At the same time, record flooding in Montana and the Dakotas is making its way down the Missouri River breaching levees and destroying river towns and farmland from Sioux City, Iowa to Kansas City, Missouri. Flooded and abandoned acres of corn are sure to further lighten this year’s crop, but prices have fallen on demand concerns of global economies and currency rates that could significantly hurt exports.


Feedlot inventories remain heavy (4.1 percent more than a year ago) but a high percentage of these cattle were forced off dry pastures at lighter than normal weights. These “green” feedlot cattle may be the same chronological age, but they will not offset the limited availability of yearling feeders coming off grass later this summer and early fall. Once cattle are placed on feed and accelerated to a finishing ration, they have moved on and will no longer follow the same schedule as those being backgrounded on pasture. Cattle can be pulled ahead (as evidenced over the last year) but they can’t be held back; they most likely will finish-out at lighter weights or risk being overdone (Yield Grade 4-5’s). Packers may regain trading leverage late in the summer as feedlots work through inflated showlists during a seasonably tough time, but market-ready cattle near year’s end should prove to be just as tight as the current numbers of available feeder cattle. end_mark