Cattle prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals per pair or head as indicated.

NATIONAL SLAUGHTER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

Oklahoma City-Des Moines

April 6

Compared to last week: Slaughter cattle sold $3-4 lower, dressed sales in Nebraska $8-9 lower. Boxed beef prices declining despite the lighter slaughter rates.

Boxed beef prices April 6 averaged $176.20 down $7.28 from March 31. The Choice/Select spread is at $2.44. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through April 6 totaled about 83,471 head. The previous week's total head count was 119,113.

Midwest Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-80 Percent Choice, 1200-1400 lbs. $122-123 Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers: $193-194

South Plains Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-65 percent Choice, 1100-1400 lbs. $122, few $121

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows and bulls mostly steady to $2 higher.

USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value April 6 was $171.39 up $2.16 from March 31.

NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

April 6

This week Last week Last year

257,700 279,500 334,200

Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold $4-8 lower with many instances as much as $15 lower on calves under 500 lbs. The sharply lower trend initially sounds harsh, but recall how sharp the weekly advances were through the fall and winter months that enabled the all-time record levels that most all producers were able to enjoy at least a portion of.

The events that released the trapdoor on the current week's feeder markets happened largely March 30 with the USDA crop report that lowered quarterly corn stockpiles and the ensuing Chicago frenzy that sent nearby corn contracts up the limit and cattle futures down over $2. This, along with the general gloominess that has fallen over the beef industry since the sudden consumer distaste for lean finely textured beef, has taken a toll on all classes of cattle.

Fed cattle sold $3-4 lower from $122-123 and fully 8 lower dressed from $193-194. The basis (difference between the cash price and the spot CME futures price) was the only thing that saved cattle feeders this week. Feedlot managers were working with a $4-5 positive basis that helped make many of this week's closeout pens reach their breakeven. The problem is, the alleys are full of cattle that wash in the mid-$130's and the hope of feedcost relief does not appear to be developing. The fastest way to improve breakevens is to pay less for feeder cattle and yearling orders were whittled-down early this week as even April 1 auctions felt the full brunt of the market drop. Still, April 3 specials at Midwestern salebarns at Green City, Mo., and Bassett, Neb., showed little (if any) weakness as farmer feeder interest kept price levels inflated.

Green City sold a load of 864 lb. steers at $152, while Bassett featured a big load of thin-fleshed 710 lb. steers at $179 and 46 head of 700 lb. replacement quality heifers at $164. The drop in stocker demand was further removed from grain and fed cattle markets and had more to do with the fact that most grass orders have been filled. In addition, the grazing condition of available calves is not as attractive to buyers and severe discounts are being imposed on fleshy unweaned types. Backgrounders have been assembling turn-out cattle for months and the early spring has allowed for inexpensive weight gains before Easter and the unofficial OK to breakout the straw hats. The mild winter across most of the nation caused many a cowboy to make the switch early and left the felt in good shape for next fall. This week's reported auction volume included 50 percent over 600 lbs. and 45 percent heifers.

AUCTIONS

This week Last week Last year

206,800 196,400 266,600

WASHINGTON 1900. 62 pct over 600 lbs. 48 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 550-600 lbs. $178.27; 650-700 lbs. $145.87. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 550-600 lbs. $162.43; 600-650 lbs. $150.26; 700-750 lbs. $130.99.

DIRECT

This week Last week Last year

36,000 27,600 57,800

SOUTHWEST (Arizona-California-Nevada) 5600. No cattle over 600 lbs. No heifers. Holsteins: Large 3 July 275 lbs. $194 Del.

NORTHWEST (Washington-Oregon-Idaho) 600. 100 pct over 600 lbs. 67 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 November 650-700 lbs. $145 value added calves Washington. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 November 650 lbs. $138 value added calves Washington.

NORTHWEST DIRECT CATTLE

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

April 6

This week Last week Last year

600 2,100 1,700

Compared to last week, not enough stocker cattle or feeder cattle reported this week for accurate trends. Trade near standstill due to lower futures and live cattle markets. Demand light to moderate as most feedlots in the trade area are full. The feeder supply included 33 percent steers and 67 percent heifers. Near 100 percent of the supply weighed over 600 lbs. Prices are FOB weighing point with a 1-4 percent shrink or equivalent and with a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 3-6 cent slide on yearlings.

Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: Future Delivery FOB Prices: 650-700 lbs. $145 value added calves for November Washington.

Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: Future Delivery FOB Prices: 650 lbs. $138 value added calves for November Washington.

Replacement Heifers (Per Head): 1-2: Current FOB Prices: 700-800 lbs. $1175-1200 Idaho.

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