Compared to last week, steers and heifers were uneven; 2.00 lower to 1.00 higher in the North and South Central regions while the Southeast 3.00 to 7.00 higher. Grazing calves in the Southeast were in demand again this week as ranchers are wanting to get cattle procured so they can be ready to turn out when the first sprig of green grass appears. Fields in Nebraska some of Kansas and Missouri are covered with snow and more is expected this weekend as another winter storm makes its’ way from the West Coast to East Coast. Many areas will be under warnings, watches and advisories. Futures late week not conducive to continuing the gains from Monday through Wednesday this week. Through Wednesday, the FC contracts were basically plus 1.00 to 2.00 on the week. However, after Thursday’s and Friday’s sessions, the front three months of Feeder Cattle closed 0.25 to 1.68 lower on the week. Weekly incremental gains on the summer/fall contracts were limited. Negotiated fed cattle trading in NE this week started at 205.00 dressed around mid-day on Friday. Live markets settled on 128.00 this week after minimal live trade last week. Packers will continue to put pressure to limit upside movement in prices after last week’s very limited 126.00 trading in the South, even though boxed beef cut out values have been showing strong support to the cattle feeder. Closeouts in feedyards are not what cattle feeders were desiring this time of year, however Mother Nature just keeps on hanging on to winter and cost of gains are now in the triple digits. Until the feedyard pens freeze up or dry up, cattle expend too much energy just getting to and from the bunks to meet their projected weights. For the week, the Choice cutout closed 1.90 higher at 221.29, while Select was 4.44 higher at 216.79. The January 1 Cattle Inventory Report was released Thursday afternoon with some highlights including all cattle and calves totaled 94.4 million head, slightly above the 97.7 million head from previous year. All cows and heifers that have calves totaled 41.1 million head, up one percent from previous year’s total of 40.6 million head. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in the U.S. for all feedlots totaled 14.4 million head up 1.6 percent from previous year’s total. The 2018 calf crop was up two percent from previous year at 36.4 million head. Cattle Slaughter under federal inspection estimated at 603K for the week, 26K more than last week and 8K less than a year ago. Auction volume this week included 60 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 44 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.