Cash cattle trade stayed undeveloped through Thursday and futures contracts traded on both sides of the market.
Cash trade was virtually nonexistent through the beginning of the week, and was limited with light demand Thursday, with 9,148 head traded. Prices ranged from $110-112 all week, but were mostly at $112. Dressed steers ranged from $175-177, but sold mostly at $176.
“The fact remains that packers need cattle and in order for them to keep their brisk slaughter speeds, they will need to buy more cattle,” remarked ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst in her Thursday midday market comments. “Trade could develop sometime Thursday afternoon or wait until Friday to develop.”
Live cattle futures crept higher Thursday after trading back and forth throughout the week. The February contract settled pennies higher at $114.97 and the April contract gained almost a quarter to close at $119.50.
Boxed beef prices sold mixed all week, but traded mostly sideways. The Choice cutout closed Thursday at $205.27 and the Select cutout at $196.08.
Slaughter for the week ending Jan. 1 is estimated at 515,000 head, a few thousand head more than the holiday week the week prior. As of Thursday afternoon, slaughter was projected at 466,000 head, a little over 30,000 head short of last year.
“Thankfully as trade continues to progress into the year and we start to get a grasp on where the market could potentially head versus being bombarded with jittery trade following the holidays, the feeder cattle contracts could stand to trade higher especially if the corn market doesn’t run higher and if live cattle can secure steady gains,” Stewart commented.
The corn contract continues to soar, although it regressed slightly Thursday afternoon. The March contract closed at $4.94, 20 cents higher than the previous Wednesday.
Feeder cattle contracts took a hit Monday morning with the skyrocketing corn prices, losing $4 or more on both contracts. The contracts were able to recover some of the ground they lost by Thursday, but still settled lower with the January contract at $136.70 and the March contract at $137.57. The Thursday CME Feeder Cattle Index was down from the week prior at $135.53.
Colorado: Winter Livestock in La Junta, sold 3,744 head Tuesday. Compared with the last sale: Steer calves under 400 lbs. sold $2-3 higher; 400-600 lbs. sold $3-5 higher; 600-700 lbs. sold $1-3 higher. Feeder steers over 700 lbs. sold steady to $3.00 lower. Heifers calves sold uneven: 300-400 lbs. sold $3-5 lower; 400-550 lbs. sold $3-5 higher; and over 550 lbs. sold steady. Feeder heifers over 700 lbs. sold steady. Benchmark steers averaging 726 lbs. sold between $133-142, averaging $137.28.
Iowa: Russell Livestock in Russell sold 4,679 head Monday. Compared to two weeks prior, steers under 700 lbs. were mostly $2.50-5 higher. Heifers 400-500 lbs. were $3-5 lower while the 500-600-lb. heifers were $3-7 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 726 lbs. sold between $132.75-145.75, averaging $140.62.
Kansas: Winter Livestock in Dodge City sold 5,995 head Wednesday. Compared to the previous week, feeder steers 700-900 lbs. sold $4-5 lower. There was no recent comparison on steer calves 300-700 lbs., however a higher market was noted. Feeder heifers 600-750 lbs. sold $2-4 lower. There was no recent comparison on heifers 300-600 lbs., although a higher market was noted. There was also no recent comparison on heifers 750-900 lbs., although a lower market was noted. Benchmark steers averaging 773 lbs. sold between $128-139, and averaged $135.91.
Missouri: Joplin Regional Stockyards in Carthage sold 11,000 head Monday. Compared to the last auction two weeks prior, feeder steers and heifers under 600 lbs. sold steady to $2 higher, and over 600 lbs. sold steady to $3 lower. Benchmark steers averaging 779 lbs. sold between $132-136.75, averaging $135.14.
Nebraska: Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett sold 4,730 head Wednesday. Demand was very good with several buyers in the seats and out-of-state bidders. Benchmark steers averaging 718 lbs. sold between $140-150.50, averaging $148.67.
New Mexico: Roswell Livestock Auction in Roswell sold 1,257 head Monday. Compared to the last sale: Feeder steers and calves under 700 lbs. sold $1-3 lower except 300-450 lbs. sold $3 higher. Feeders over 700 lbs. sold $3 higher. Heifer calves under 600 lbs. sold $1-2 lower, except 300-400 lbs. sold $3 higher. Over 600 lbs. sold steady, except a few 700-750 lbs. sold $4 higher. A small group of steers averaging 777 lbs. sold between $120.50-125.50, averaging $122.13.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City sold 12,000 head in their first sale of the year. Compared to the last sale on Dec. 14, feeder steers sold $1-4 lower and feeder heifers sold steady to $3 lower. Steer calves sold steady to $3 lower and heifer calves sold steady to $3 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 733 lbs. sold between $130-139.50, averaging $135.88.
South Dakota: Hub City Livestock Auction in Hub City sold 6,173 head Wednesday. There were no market trends as the first sale of the year, but there was good to very good demand for several long strings and several loads of yearlings offered. There was good to very good demand for a large offering of calves. Benchmark steers averaging 768 lbs. sold between $129.75-142.75, and averaged $136.21.
Wyoming: Torrington Livestock in Torrington sold 5,291 head. No trends were noted as it was the first feeder sale of the year, but the market was very active with most cattle weighing over 600 lbs. Benchmark steers averaging 765 lbs. sold between $140-152, and averaged $144.58. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor