Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold steady to 5.00 higher, with gains seen both in calves suitable for grazing as well as cattle suitable for direct feedlot placement. Where feeder cattle come from does make a difference on flesh condition this week. If an area has been inundated with winter moisture and harsher than normal temperatures, cattle have hardened up and are in lighter flesh than their counterparts that come from drier environments such as Northeast Colorado. Auction receipts were curtailed on this report this week due to very cold weather over last weekend which hampered movement. Three of the previous four weeks, Live Cattle futures have been higher when comparing Friday close to Friday close. This week, The LC contracts just couldn’t seem to gain any momentum. Fresh bullish news appears to be few and far between this week as feedyards are hoping to get winter behind them in a hurry as the calendar how now turned to March. Omaha is reporting that they have received over 60 inches of snow this year and more moisture is expected this weekend. Northeast Nebraska feedyard personnel are getting tired of this winter as the pens are muddy and cattle performance is down. Cattle are not meeting projections so far in the first quarter and just how much damage is done to meat production remains to be seen. However, the World Agriculture Outlook Board released the monthly WASDE report today and is lowering the 2019 annual beef production by 310 million pounds. After last month’s revision on beef production, they are estimating that a full week of beef production will be taken out due to lower first quarter slaughter, slowed placements and lighter carcass weights. Steer carcass weights for week ending February 23 were reported at 874 pounds, five pounds lower than last week and ninepounds lower than a year ago. In the last eight weeks, steer carcass weights have lost 22 pounds and the season for calf-feds coming out is still a month or so away. Negotiated cash fed cattle trading occurred on Thursday this week instead the typical Friday for the last month or so. Live purchases were steady with last week at 128.00 in the Southern and Northern Plains, while the Nebraska dressed market was also steady at 205.00. Cold Storage Report for January was released Thursday afternoon with total red meat supplies in freezers up seven percent from previous month and down one percent from last year. Total lbs of beef in freezers were up three percent at 510.1 million lbs from previous month and up two percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 11 percent at 562.7 million lbs from last month, but three percent lower than last year. Year-end beef exports were reported at record volume and value for 2018. US beef exports were pegged at 1.35 million metric tons, up seven percent from 2017 and five percent larger than the previous record in 2011. The Cattle-on-Feed for February 1 released today was mostly within industry guesses and would be viewed as a neutral report. On Feed reported at 100 percent of a year ago; Placements at 95 percent and Marketings at 103 percent. Auction volume this week included 62 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo