It’s a classic story of supply and demand, says Shane Ellis, farm and ranch consultant with Latigo Strategic Management, of the current livestock markets.

At this point, supply rules and the packers are letting that be known.

“It’s a little better than it was, and a little better than last year,” says Ellis. “We’ve seen a softening of the market. We knew there would be some, but it was more than we expected.”

The cattle market downturn in April and May came from an 8 percent increase in slaughter. “We knew it was coming from the cattle on feed reports,” says Ellis. On May 25, there were 11.5 million cattle on feed, half a million more than last year.

The last part of May saw 355,000 head of steers per week heading to slaughter, well above the five-year average of 330,000 ...