Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold 2.00 to 6.00 lower. The larger drop in the market this week occurred in the regions affected by Winter Storm Gia last weekend and the forecasted Winter Storm Harper this weekend. A vast area of the Plains states are dealing with excess moisture this time of year with more on the way. Drought conditions will no doubt be different this spring and early summer, however we always keep in the back of our mind what grandpa used to say “We’re only two weeks away from a drought.” Auction receipts were curtailed this week due to that excessive moisture as snowfall was measured up to 20 inches in areas of Missouri from WS Gia. One hot sale in Torrington, Wyo. was reported on Wednesday as two different drafts of 508 lbs and 540 lbs selling at 200.00 and 201.00 respectively. Also at that sale a string over 200 head of 608 lb steers sold at 185.75. These calves have been reported to be headed to the Flint Hills of Kansas to graze this spring and summer. With all the moisture in Kansas this winter, one would expect those steers to do well on grass. Feedyard pens are in poor to very poor conditions as forecasts call for extreme cold for a few days after the moisture rolls through. Cattle performance has deteriorated along with the aforementioned pen conditions. In addition, lost weights and carcass yield losses will no doubt show on the cattle feeders’ bottom line. Incoming cattle at feedyards that are unvaccinated and newly weaned are considered high risk in the Plains situation right now. Slogging around pens that are knee deep or deeper just wears cattle out and it becomes very difficult for weight gains to hit the expected mark. Hopefully pens can freeze up shortly so cattle can actually get some footing on hard ground. Last week’s live fed cattle trade was reported at 124.00 while dressed sales sold at 197.00. Feedlot sales as of Friday morning this week have been virtually nonexistent, with less than 4K head of negotiated cash fed cattle sold nationwide. For the week, the Choice cutout closed 0.69 higher at 213.15, while Select was 3.18 higher at 209.45. Cattle Slaughter under federal inspection estimated at 620K for the week, 6K lower than last week and 7K above a year ago. Auction volume this week included 55 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.