Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves sold steady to 5.00 higher.  Feeder steers and heifers traded mostly steady to 5.00 lower, with some
instances 1.00-2.00 higher on 600-700 lb weights.  Southeastern calves traded steady to 3.00 higher and feeder cattle were steady to 3.00 lower.  Demand remains very good for light weight calves, and moderate to good for feeders.  The spring like weather is creating a lot of interest for grass calves, with buyers continuing to be very aggressive for longtime weaned calves suitable for summer grazing programs as their availability is declining.  Producers are also interested in buying good, high quality replacement heifers to improve their herds.  In Valentine, NE several loads of 6 and 7 weight yearling heifers sold at a premium from 935.00-1125.00 per head.  On the other hand, all of the excitement from last week dwindled for the feeder market as order buyers were cautious and reluctant to pay more for cattle as profit potential looks lower in the live cattle futures for the summer months.  Feedlot operators have been profitable and are simply trying to play it safe by penciling out current feeders to fit the lower months ahead.  Over the weekend, parts of the southern plains and Midwest saw unseasonably warm weather with some locations seeing record breaking temperatures.  The unusual warmth has winter wheat growing again and field work spotted in areas where it’s not common for this time of year.  The mild weather is expected to continue through next week.  Particular areas remain abnormally dry, with some chances of moisture in the forecast for the coming weekend for the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma, which would provide relief.  With spring approaching fast, farmers and ranchers are hoping to see much needed moisture in the coming months for planting and grazing cattle.  Feedlot trade finally occurred Friday morning on moderate demand in the southern plains.  Compared to last week, live sales were steady at 120.00, with a few early sales reported 1.00 lower in Kansas at 119.00.  Trade and demand was moderate in Nebraska, with live sales trading steady to 1.00 higher as compared to last week at 120.00.  Dressed sales sold steady at 190.00.  Colorado live sales were steady to 50 cents higher at 120.00-120.50.  A few early live sales in Iowa traded 1.00-2.00 higher at 119.00-120.00, while dressed sales were steady at 190.00.  In the Fed Cattle Exchange 1,556 head were sold, out of 4,800 offered on Wednesday.  Most of the cattle sold were in the southern plains with prices
reported from 118.50-119.25.  Pen conditions continue to be poor in the northern plains as temperatures remain warmer than usual, creating muddy conditions.  Choice boxed beef closed the week at 190.49, up 2.86 and Select at 189.24, up 3.59 from last Friday’s close.  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