Compared to last week, steers and heifers were uneven; with early week sales quoted steady to 5.00 lower and mid to late week sales reportedly steady to 5.00 higher.  Those early week sales all had a downward trend that was spillover from the previous week followed by lower futures on Tuesday.  Buyer interest had waned early week due to the winter weather that came in over the weekend.  Between mud, snow, ice, or a mixture of all the above transporting cattle has proven to be difficult and sales either cancelled or continued on with lighter receipts.  Some feedyards are content to wait for pens to harden and dry up a bit before receiving more cattle.  Producers and feedyards are finding it difficult to feed enough mega calories maintenance in the harsh conditions, let alone trying to increase weight.  A Feeder Cattle futures rally on Wednesday was a welcome sight for auctions as buyer interest picked up and prices advanced as well.  The calf market finally improved in Oklahoma as heavy moisture this month (Oklahoma seems to be 300 percent of normal for January) will provide for some nice pasture after warm up.   Spring stocker orders there are starting now and will continue through mid-April.  Larger runs are expected next week provided that harsh winter temperatures don’t make it again difficult for transporting stock.  The CME Feeder Cattle Index is nearly 3.00 lower than when the New Year arrived and the January Feeder contract has been around 1.50 lower in the past three calendar weeks.  Wednesday and Thursday saw changes in green font in the CME Feeder Futures; a welcome sight after Tuesday’s losses and the week closed 1.92 higher on the January and the March to September contracts close 0.02 to 0.80 higher on the week.  Fed cattle trading seems to be confined to mostly Friday again the week with live sales trading 1.00 lower at 123.00 while dressed sales are steady at 197.00.  For the week, the Choice cutout closed 3.86 higher at 217.01, while Select was 2.58 higher at 212.03.  Cattle Slaughter under federal inspection estimated at 610K for the week, 10K lower than last week and 16K above a year ago.  Auction volume this week included 53 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 41 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.