Compared to two weeks ago, steers and heifers sold steady to 3.00 higher. Receipts were much larger this week than last due to most livestock auctions observing the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Buyers have become more meticulous when purchasing calves having a health program and ample time of being weaned this time of year. In times past, a 30 to 45 day weaning period was sufficient, however buyers are now almost demanding a calf that is 60 days weaned with at least two rounds of recent vaccinations. Also, this time of year fleshy calves coming off the cows are seeing a steep price discount and several 550 plus pound calves weaned on the trailer have made their way to town this week. Blizzard conditions on Sunday and Monday from basically I-70 to I-80 did harden up some of the fleshy calves as cold temperatures moved in directly after the snow dumped across the Plains. Mud will become an issue rather quickly due to the soil underneath not being frozen. Most of the forthcoming problems will be when the snow melts and muddy lots will be prevalent. Feeder cattle futures have tried to find a positive footing in recent weeks and there have been large swings from one week to the next. This week, Feeder Cattle futures were 2.15 to 4.15 lower even though livestock auctions were steady to higher. Last week’s friendly Cattle on Feed Report failed to give support as well as last week’s higher feed cattle market. This week on Monday, Tri-State Livestock Auction in McCook, Neb. sold three loads of heifers that went to feed weighing 785 lbs sold at 157.00. After last week’s higher fed cattle trade in the Southern Plains at 116.00 to 117.00, this week’s trading has been slow to materialize in that area. Early sales this week in Nebraska have been 1.00 to 2.00 lower with the bulk of sales at 183.00 to 184.00. Another winter storm is forecasted to move through the Northern Plains this weekend and some feeders are content at this time to have cattle sold before the brunt of the storm rolls through. Auction volume this week included 39 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.
Source: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, Mo.