Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves sold 4.00 to 10.00 higher.  Feeder steers and heifers traded steady to 5.00 higher.  In the southeast,
steers and heifers were steady to 3.00 higher.  Auction receipts were lighter due to the downturn in prices last week.  Trade was active with the best demand for stocker cattle.  The cattle market saw some optimism after last week’s rough go-round in the sale barns.  Feeder cattle futures have been up and down this week, with the biggest moves coming mid to late in the week.  Despite the roller coaster ride, cattle buyers were aggressive on the light to middle weight calves, as spring is approaching fast and buyers are thinking of green pastures ahead.  Replacement type heifers are also in good demand and are bringing about the same or more than steers within the same weight categories.  In Bassett, Nebraska a few loads of good quality replacement heifers weighing between 650-685 lbs sold from 152.00-166.00 and 700 lb heifers brought up to 163.00.  That’s roughly a 20.00-30.00 premium per hundred weight, as compared to heifers of comparable weight ranges and from the same sale, going to the feed yard.  Other locations have also seen a spike in prices for replacements.  The temperature swings across the Plains and Midwest have been extreme this week.  In Billings, MT and parts of the northern plains, some cattle auctions saw light receipts as the winter storm moved in, causing road closures due to poor road and travel conditions.  Across the mid-section of the country, temperatures plummeted with highs only in the teens and 20’s.  However, unseasonably warm weather is expected going into the weekend.  Several areas are expecting to warm up in the 60’s and 70’s, with some locations in the southern plains reaching up to 80
degrees.  Feedlot trading materialized on Wednesday with live sales in Nebraska selling steady to 1.00 higher, mostly from 119.00-120.00 and dressed sales steady at 190.00, with a few up to 191.00 on a light test.  Colorado live sales were 1.00 higher at 120.00.  In the southern plains trading was moderate on moderate demand.  Live sales sold 1.00 higher at 120.00, with a few at 120.50.  Iowa and Minnesota dressed sales were mostly steady at 190.00, with a few at 191.00.  Live sales were lightly tested at 118.00.  The Fed Cattle Exchange on Wednesday sold 3,615 head.  Prices reported in Texas and Kansas were mostly from 119.75-120.50 and in Nebraska mostly from 115.00-117.00, with a few from 118.00-119.00.  Pen conditions in the northern feedlots remain muddy as the snow melts.  This is creating havoc for feed yards as outgoing cattle are carrying too much tag, which is affecting yields.  Choice boxed beef closed the week at 187.63, down 3.77 and Select at 185.65, dn 4.28 from last Friday’s close.  Auction volume this week included 58 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.
SOURCE: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO