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Cattle markets were able to recover slightly from a previously disappointing week. While not many cash cattle sold in the earlier part of the week, Thursday gained momentum with 13,820 head selling between $103-106. Purchases in the South held steady at $108. Dressed purchases moved from $158-163 Thursday, averaging around $160.73.

Monday and Tuesday experienced little cash trade, and trade picked up a bit on Wednesday, although the Fed Cattle Exchange was unable to hold their weekly online sale due to technical difficulties. 

Futures contracts blossomed Thursday afternoon, with the October live cattle contract up 43 cents to $106.28, and the December and February contracts gaining $3.30 and $2.68 to $107.98 and $110.38, respectively. Throughout the week, futures contracts moved higher, with the October live cattle contract closing Thursday $2.83 higher than the previous Friday’s number of $103.45 and the December contract up $4.18 compared to Friday’s $103.80.

Slaughter through Thursday was projected at 464,000 head, about 15,000 head behind the week prior but on trend with last year. Thursday’s slaughter was estimated at 114,000 head, several thousand behind as a few plants in the Southern Plains were unable to open due to severe weather. The plants were expected to pick up slaughter on the weekend to make up for the lost numbers.

Boxed beef prices were mixed throughout the week, but ultimately settled slightly higher on Thursday afternoon. On 157 loads, the Choice cutout traded $1.38 higher to $207.17 and the Select cutout traded $1.65 higher to $191.23—about the same levels as the week prior.

“As boxed beef prices print higher and nearby contracts scale anywhere from $2-3 higher—feedlots are soaking up the market’s momentum and cherishing the fact that they didn’t sell out early in the week and miss the opportunity to trade cash cattle to their fullest potential,” remarked DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart in her afternoon market comments.

Feeder cattle

The feeder cattle market pressed forward to regain some of the position lost last week. The corn contract was what everyone was watching, and the December contract ultimately fell below $4 to $3.98 Thursday afternoon after peaking for the week at $4.17 on Monday.

Futures contracts gained throughout the week, with the October feeder contract up $1.28 to $136.45, November up $1.83 to $135.73, and January up $1.40 to $131.35 on Thursday afternoon. Thursday’s CME Feeder Cattle Index was up $1.02 to $134.34.

An ice storm moved across the Southern Plains mid-week, perhaps dampening some movement of cattle.

Colorado: Winter Livestock in La Junta, CO, sold 438 feeder cattle last week. Compared to the week prior, steer and heifer calves were scarce. Yearling feeder steers and heifers in a light test were mostly steady. Slaughter cows and bulls sold mostly steady. Benchmark steers weighing 736 lbs. sold between $129-132, averaging $130.21.

Iowa: Last Monday, Russell Livestock in Russell, IA, sold 3,394 head. Compared to two weeks prior, steers 550-650 lbs. sold steady to $3 higher and those 650-900 lbs. were $5.50-9.50 lower. Heifers under 550 lbs. were steady to $10 lower, while the 550-700-lb. heifers were $5-10 lower. The 700-750-lb. heifers were $2 higher. Heifers over 750 lbs. did not have enough numbers both weeks to compare. Benchmark steers weighing 774 lbs. sold between $135.75-145.10

Kansas: Winter Livestock in Dodge City, KS, sold 456 head of feeder cattle last Wednesday. There were low receipts due to weather. There were not enough steers and heifers for a market test, however a lower market was noted. Slaughter cows sold unevenly steady. Slaughter bulls sold $2-3 higher. A group of steers averaging 724 lbs. sold between $124-126.75, averaging $125.33.

Missouri: Joplin Regional Stockyards in Carthage, MO, sold 2,741 head last Monday. Compared to the week prior, steer and heifer calves sold $2-5 lower, and yearlings steady to $5 lower. Demand was moderate to light, and supply was light. A group of steers averaging 720 lbs. sold from $131-137.

Nebraska: Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett, NE, sold 2,435 head last week. Compared with two weeks prior, 550-600-lb. steers traded steady to $7 lower and 850-950-lb. steers traded $7-8 lower. Spayed heifers weighing 850 lbs. traded $2 lower. Demand was moderate to good with high internet bidding. Steers averaging 562 lbs. sold between $153.50-166, averaging $158.89.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City, OK, sold 3,300 head last week. Compared to the week prior, feeder steers and heifers traded mostly $3-5 lower on limited comparable sales. There were too few comparable trades on calves for an accurate test, however a lower undertone was noted. A cold front swept across the trade area, hampering livestock movement. Steers averaging 685 lbs. sold from $127-131.75.

South Dakota: Hub City Livestock Auction in Aberdeen, SD, sold 4,206 head at their auction last Wednesday. The best test was on yearling steers 850-950 lbs., selling mostly steady and 1,050-1,100 lbs. selling $2-4 lower. Yearling heifers were not well compared and calves were too lightly tested the week prior for an accurate trend. Steers weighing 613 lbs. sold between $141.50-150, averaging $147.92.

Wyoming: The Torrington Livestock Market in Torrington, WY, sold 3,552 head last Wednesday. Compared to the week prior, steer calves traded unevenly steady with the exception of a 600-lb. steer which traded $2-3 higher. Heifer calves also traded unevenly steady with the exception of a 500-lb. heifer which traded $3 lower. There was no trend on yearlings due to lack of receipts from the week prior. Steers weighing 629 lbs. sold from $140.50-146.50, averaging $144.43. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor

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