Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold 3.00 to 8.00 lower instances up to 10.00 lower in most areas this week, however the North Central states were unevenly steady.  Feedyards took money off orders this week as areas that were snowy last week have awfully muddy pen conditions.  Prior to the large snowstorm that moved across the Plains last week, temperatures had not been cold enough to get the ground frozen before the snow flew from the sky.  The snow acted as a blanket and left the unfrozen ground below it and as cattle moved across the pens, churned the white moisture into a maligned muddy mess.  Feedyard managers have the unenviable task to try and make cattle as comfortable in the mess left by Mother Nature.  Cattle are getting tired of slogging through the mud and have expended more calories than they can eat in a day.  Daily gains are greatly affected and those cattle that are in the latest stages of finish will have expected out date adjusted.  More feed cost put into fed cattle are never a welcome sight this close to the projected out date.  In addition to weather issues in the North, the South is expected to get some Winter Storm Diego will occur through the weekend.  Widespread snow, ice, freezing rain and rain is expected from the Southern Plains to the Southeast.  Temperatures from Flagstaff, Ariz. to Lubbock, Texas are expected to be at the freezing line.  Feedyards that far South are not accustomed to low temps.  It is Friday again and that means fed cattle trade.  So far this week, some 187.00 dressed trade occurred mid-day today in Nebraska, 2.00 to 4.00 higher than last week.  Other areas have not traded yet as of this writing, however feedyards are optimistic after last week’s 118.00 live trade in the Southern Plains.   After last week’s sharply lower CME Feeder Cattle trading, market participants are waiting on any good news to move the Cattle Complex higher. However, Monday and Thursday’ lower closes bookended Tuesday and Wednesday’s higher trading.  For the week, Feeder Cattle contracts were 0.85 to 1.10 lower, while Live Cattle trading was 0.55 to 1.62 higher.  Boxed-beef cut-out values continue to hold together for the most part but have started to feel some pressure as last minute buying for upcoming holidays are happening.  For the week, the Choice cutout closed 1.68 higher at 214.29, while Select was 2.09 higher at 200.50.  Auction volume this week included 41 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.