Compared to last week, steers and heifers traded mostly steady to 4.00 higher with instances 6.00 to 10.00 higher in areas where the calves are headed south for grazing.  Active trading this week in the major marketing areas as the feeder cattle market continues to rally and following the fed cattle trading arena.  Demand remains good for calves and stocker cattle weighing 500-700 lbs with the best demand for those that are long time weaned and good weighing conditions.  There have been some big feeders coming off wheat earlier than the typical March 15 date due to the dryness in Oklahoma (especially western Oklahoma) and the unappetizing toughness of the wheat plant itself.  Cattle have been gaining well on wheat and now with the focus turning to grain production, some good rains have come at opportune times and have covered most of the major wheat areas in Oklahoma.  Auctions in Nebraska on Friday this week came to a screeching halt as a result of a blizzard sweeping across the Northern Plains.  Reports of measuring snowfall in feet from eastern Wyoming and throughout the northern third of Nebraska is commonplace and after three consecutive days of temperatures in the 70’s in the middle of Nebraska.  Pen conditions in northern tiered feedlots will be fodder for speculation in the coming week as that moisture creates tag on the hide.  Packers did spend more money this week on procurement as live sales sold 4.00 to 5.00 higher at 124.00-125.00 and dressed sales were 6.00 higher at 196.00 in Nebraska.  There are still plenty of ranchers willing to pay up for top quality replacement heifers and as a pretty shrewd rancher would say “It takes the same amount of money to feed a good one as a mediocre one”.  Last Friday in Ft. Pierre, SD a load of 695 lb top notch heifers sold at 171.00 while two loads weighing 707 lb heifers rung the bell at 167.00 and last but certainly not least, a load of 769 lb heifers sold at 169.00/cwt or near $1300 per head.  Cattle on Feed Report was released Friday afternoon with February 1st at 101 percent; Placements at 111 percent and Marketings at 110 percent all coming in close to industry analyst estimates.  On Thursday, the Cold Storage Report was released with the largest January cold storage inventory on record for total beef supplies. Total red meat and poultry supplies reported at 2.222 billion lbs or 5 percent lower than last year, with pork attributing the most decline.  Beef stocks in cold storage was estimated at 537.5 million lbs, 1 percent higher than last year.  Pork stocks came in at 526.7 million lbs 11 percent lower than a year ago while chicken inventories for January came in at 774.9 million lbs, 6 percent less than last year.  Cold storage is generally not a market mover but can give analysts another segment to refer to. Auction volume this week included 61 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.
SOURCE: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO