Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold uneven; 1.00 lower to 2.00 higher in the North and South Central areas while the demand for steers and heifers waned in the Southeast for a steady to 4.00 lower price trend. Even though auction receipts just barely topped the 200K mark for this report, feedlots and grazers were ready to procure cattle this week if producers could get them to town. Many auction locations are still reeling from a winter storm last Friday and earlier this week as many locations received more snow than anticipated, making feeding stock the main priority when daybreak comes. Calving season has started in many areas now and producers are somewhat concerned with the abundance of moisture received in recent weeks. Some early born calves are coming into this world seeing snow and anecdotes of rancher neighbors having either bad or good luck this year is abundant. One issue that some are happy about is the above normal snowfall. After last year’s drought that encompassed much of the grassland regions, ranchers like to see the snow as previous generations remind the newer stewards of the land that “snow makes grass”. In Nebraska, our USDA Market Reporter Thomas Walthers notes that hay “buyer inquiry and demand picked up this week from local and out of state buyers. This year has been a typical Nebraska winter with February dealing us the most snow we have had in several years. This cold, snowy weather is giving ranchers many sleepless nights while calving first calf heifers and aiding in burning through hay piles faster than one would like. A lot of hay has been fed in the last 30 plus days.” After winter held on last year into the middle of April, hay supplies in large cow states are getting low and inventories have not been replenished yet after lower yields in 2018. Last Friday at Lexington (Neb.) Livestock Market, two loads of 812 lb steers sold at 156.50. On Monday at Russell (Iowa) Livestock Auction a short half load of 600 lbs steers sold at 177.00, while on Wednesday at Kist Livestock Auction in Mandan, N.D. a load of 600 lb steers sold at 177.00 and a package of 606 lb steers sold at 178.50. On Wednesday at Hub City Livestock Auction in Aberdeen, S.D. a load of 721 and 736 lb steers sold at 161.25 and 160.50 respectively. On Thursday at Ogallala (Neb.) Livestock Auction, a load of 601 lbs steer calves sold at 179.00. Also on Thursday at Appanoose County Livestock in Centerville, Iowa a package of 707 lb steers sold at 163.50 and another package of 719 lbs steers at New Cambria (Mo.) Livestock sold at 161.00. Today at Burwell (Neb.) Livestock Market, two loads of 619 lb steers headed to the feedyard at 174.25. Outselling many seven weight steers nationwide on Wednesday at Sheridan Livestock Auction in Rushville, Neb. a load of 712 lbs replacement quality heifers sold at 160.25. Today, the February Live Cattle contract has been trading at its highest level since the contract came on the Board in September 2017. The steady rise in the Feb contract is evident with a few corrections since November 2018. The April and June contracts have all followed that trendline as well. The Cattle-on-Feed for January 1 released today were mostly within industry guesses and would be viewed as a neutral report for On feed and Marketings, while Placements would be somewhat bullish. On Feed reported at 102 percent of a year ago; Placements at 98 percent and Marketings at 99 percent. Auction volume this week included 62 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 44 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.