Cash trade had picked up by the middle of the week and live steers sold from $106-110—mostly at $110. Dressed steer purchases were too light for a market trend for most of the week, but were selling between $169-173 Thursday. Cash cattle are selling about $13 cheaper than the same time last year.
The week prior, a total of 95,868 cash cattle had sold for an average price of $109.41. Dressed steers sold for $172.98. Formula cattle sales still top the market with a total of 206,070 head sold, averaging $180.67 the week ending Jan. 17.
The Fed Cattle Exchange hosted their weekly online sale Wednesday and listed 1,547 head for sale, of which 567 sold. A total of 299 head from Kansas sold on the grid for $110.75 and 268 head from Texas sold for $110.50-111.
“Feedlots are wishing that with the stout advancement in the boxed beef market Thursday morning and the reignited support that’s allowing the live cattle contracts to trade higher, that they would have waited until later in the week to market their cattle,” ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst, remarked in her Thursday midday comments.
Live cattle contracts traded mostly sideways all week, although they got a late start with the market closed Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. By Thursday, the February contract was trading at $114.10 and the April contract was at $119.95.
“Watching the April board continues to be a top priority and with Thursday’s advancement the contract has now moved to long-term highs and is on the edge of trading at $120,” Stewart said.
Slaughter through Thursday totaled 469,000 head—on trend with the week prior, but about 20,000 head behind the same time last year. Total slaughter for the week ending Jan. 15 was reported at 651,000 head, on trend with the week prior.
Feeder cattle contracts have mostly traded based on the corn contracts and whether they hold steady or suddenly skyrocket. Last week, corn contracts bounced around, but the differences were by pennies and not quarters. As of Thursday, the March corn contract was sitting at $5.24.
In comparison, feeder cattle contracts continued to trade higher and the January and March contracts were at $135.87 and $139.15, respectively. The latest CME Feeder Cattle Index was reported Thursday at $133.19.
“Feeder cattle sales have been hit or miss this week with excellent demand being strongly noted for lightweight calves that offer the ability to either go into the feedlot later this spring or work as grass calves—not to mention, the spring contracts are far more favorable the further time rolls into 2021,” Stewart said.
Colorado: Winter Livestock in La Junta sold 5,590 head Tuesday. Compared with the prior sale, steer calves under 450 lbs. sold $1-3 higher; 450-500 lbs. sold $3-5 lower; 500-550 lbs. sold $2-4 lower; over 550 lbs. sold steady to $2 lower. Heifer calves under 550 lbs. sold steady to $2 lower, except 350-400 lbs. sold $3-5 lower; 600-700 lbs. sold $1-3 lower. Feeder steers and heifers over 700 lbs. sold steady to $1 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 724 lbs. sold between $130-137.25, and averaged $134.57.
Iowa: Russell Livestock in Russell sold 4,759 head Monday. Compared to the last sale, steers under 650 lbs. were mostly $7-10 lower, while those over 650 lbs. were $2.50 higher. Heifers under 600 lbs. sold mostly $2-10 lower and those over 600 lbs. were steady to mostly $4 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 772 lbs. sold between $127.50-139 and averaged $132.50.
Kansas: Winter Livestock in Dodge City sold 3,381 head Wednesday. Feeder steers 800-950 lbs. sold $2 higher. Steer calves 400-450 lbs. sold $3 higher. Heifer calves 300-500 lbs. sold $2-5 lower and heifers 500-700 lbs. sold $2-5 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 783 lbs. sold between $130.35-140 and averaged $132.35.
Missouri: Joplin Regional Stockyards in Carthage sold 7,124 head Monday. Steers under 550 lbs. sold steady, but heavier weights sold $2 lower. Heifers traded $5 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 709 lbs. sold for $133.50.
Nebraska: Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett sold 2,800 head Wednesday. Compared to the previous sale, steers 500-700 lbs. traded unevenly steady and heifers 500-600 lbs. traded steady to $5 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 719 lbs. sold between $141-146, and averaged $143.39.
New Mexico: Roswell Livestock Auction in Roswell sold 2,486 head Monday. Compared to the prior sale, feeder steers and calves sold $4-5 higher. Heifer calves under 600 lbs. sold $4-5 higher, except 350-450 lbs. sold $1 lower and over 600 lbs. sold $2-5 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 659 lbs. sold between $126-133 and averaged $132.39.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma National Stockyards sold 17,343 head Monday. Compared to the last sale, feeder steers and heifers sold steady to $4 lower on limited offerings in early rounds. Steer and heifer calves under 500 lbs. sold $2-6 higher; over 500 lbs. sold steady to $2 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 731 lbs. sold between $131-138.50, and averaged $136.70.
South Dakota: Philip Livestock Auction in Philip sold 5,774 head Tuesday. Compared to the sale prior, feeder steers 450-600 lbs. sold steady to $2 lower; 600-650 lbs. sold steady to $2 higher. Feeder heifers 400-450 lbs. sold $2 lower; 450-550 lbs. sold steady to $2 higher; 550-600 lbs. sold steady; 600-700 lbs. sold $2-4 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 765 lbs. sold between $135.50-141.50, and averaged $139.78.
Wyoming: Torrington Livestock in Torrington sold 6,687 head Wednesday. Compared to the prior sale, steer and heifer calves sold $2-3 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 732 lbs. sold between $138-148 and averaged $144.63. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor