Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold uneven; 2.00 lower to 2.00 higher. New crop fall calves have been noticed at auctions this week with many unweaned comments used. Feeder calves and stocker calves under 800 lbs, especially those carrying a minimal amount of flesh showed the way with the best demand. Buyers continue to shy away from cattle carrying too much flesh condition for their weight. Another “bomb cyclone” made its way from Colorado up through Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. Many late week auctions in Nebraska cancelled or rescheduled sales as they are living through the second one of them in a month. Areas received less snow than expected, however high winds created white out conditions and deposited snow where ranchers really didn’t need it. After the second winter in a row that just doesn’t seem to end, farmers and ranchers in the Midwest and Plains are ready for warmer weather so they can get some much-needed field work done. Forage supplies are bound to be depleted in many areas after the amount of forage that has been fed in the last two winters. Grass is slow to come even though temperatures were higher the first of this week, however freeze and frost warnings in the Plains this week brings us back to reality. Less open cows will be retained after this winter’s calving season and cow prices have been higher at auctions this week after trending lower for a couple weeks. It appears that many distressed cows from the first “bomb cyclone” have made their way to market. There is bound to be more weight loss of nearly finished cattle throughout the Northern Plains and just how much lost will be evident in the coming months as calf-feds get closer to harvest. Currently, cattle are not meeting their projected out-weights and cost of gains are higher than anticipated just a few short months ago. Boxed-beef prices have shown some interest from retailers to turn the cut-out higher this week. For the week, the Choice cutout closed 1.91 higher at 228.84, while Select was 0.74 higher at 221.02. Cattle Slaughter under federal inspection estimated at 634K for the week, 13K more than last week and 23K more than a year ago.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.