Compared to last week, steers and heifers traded uneven; mostly from 2.00 higher to 2.00 lower, with the Southeast being on the upper end of that trading range.  Active trading again as 20,000 head more reported through auctions this week than last.  The central part of Oklahoma received some pretty timely rains the past couple of weeks and the grass is greening up pretty quickly and the temperatures have been unseasonably warmer.  After the blizzard last week in Nebraska, some normal Friday auctions were rescheduled for Sunday and Tuesday this week in order to get cattle moved out prior to getting ready for this weeks sale.  Calving season is in full swing in several parts of the nation with some areas starting 2 to 3 weeks ago.  Warmer than normal temps and drier than normal winter has left some producers thankful that mud isn’t knee deep.  However they are concerned that less moisture this time of year will follow through into summer.  A short supply of front-end fed cattle created an issue for the packers gain this week.  Pay up or not have enough for scheduled harvests in the coming weeks.  On Wednesday, packers paid steady money with last week in the Southern Plains at 124.00-125.00, while dressed sales in Nebraska were 4.00 higher at 200.00.  Several anecdotes by the analysts this week of transactions happening at these prices due to the exceptional basis to April with several trades happening with a more than two week delivery.  The deferred CME Live Cattle contracts are tempering the feeder cattle market.  When the Feb Live contract went off the Board, the August contract was at a 20 percent reduction.  For a 1,500 pound steer that would be about a $400/head drop in value, so it could be a challenge for the feeder cattle in auctions to increase tremendously in value at this time.  However, on Wednesday at Huss Platte Valley Auction in Kearney, Neb. two loads of buckskin steers weighing 817 lbs brought 135.35 and three loads
of bigger brothers weighing 940 lbs sold for 128.25.  From the boots on the ground there, those cattle were in light to medium flesh and were ready to do it all in the feedyard.  After the uptick in fed cattle prices last week, meat salesmen immediately started asking higher prices for cuts and Choice boxed beef
has gained 13.54 since last Wednesday to close today at 208.07.  The April CME Lives Cattle contract settled today at 115.97, 1.02 higher than last Friday.  On Friday when looking at the Feeder cattle futures, every month listed in 2017 is trading around 2.00 from the highest priced month (Aug - 124.35)to the lowest (Nov - 122.20).  Auction volume this week included 63 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.
SOURCE:  USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO