Last week saw a noticeably improvement in almost every part of the markets. Except the negotiated cash fed cattle trade. That market segment was content to be slow.

By close of trade Thursday, only 3,178 head of negotiated cash fed cattle had been confirmed sold for the week. Prices throughout the week had been $125 live and $198 dressed. If representative of the market, this would be up $1 for live and down $1 for dressed compared to the prior week’s averages. That said, the expectation was for a steady to higher trade for the week.

Near-term futures were all up about $2 from a week-to-week perspective despite intraweek fluctuations. Most of the gains came from Monday’s massive price jump which saw some near-limit up trade.

By close of trade Thursday, the near-term futures contract settlements were as follows: February live, $126.73 (+$2.00); April live, $127.30 (+$1.62); January feeders, $146.93 (+$3.58); and March feeders, $146.55 (+$3.87).

A good portion of the feeder cattle auctions got up and running last week. Prices were generally up, with medium and large #1 steers weighing 700-800 lbs. getting up into the $160s. Averages were mostly in the mid-$140s.

Colorado: The Winter Livestock auction of La Junta sold over 5,700 head of feeders. Light steer calves were called steady, while those ranging from 400-700 lbs. brought $2-8 higher prices. Heifer calves followed a similar pattern, with most calves trading $1-3 higher. Yearling feeders brought $1-2 higher for steers and steady money for heifers. Benchmark yearling steers ranged from $139.50-156.25.

Iowa: There were no trends available at the Russell Livestock Feeder Cattle auction last week due to no recent sales. However, the auction sold 4,723 head of feeders to active trading and good buyer demand. Several lots of #1, 7-weight yearling steers sold between $141.50-156.

Kansas: Over 6,000 head of feeders sold last week at the Winter Livestock auction of Dodge City. Compared to the prior sale, held Dec. 18, 2019, feeder steers were mostly up $2-4, with some instances of $5-8 higher for reputation lots. Heifers were mostly steady to up $2. Weaned calves were up $2-6, with preference for heifer calves. Two large lots of benchmark yearling steers sold between $143-153.50.

Missouri: The Joplin Regional Stockyards sold over 13,000 head of feeders last week. Where comparable, steer calves traded $3-5 higher, heifer calves $3-7 higher, and yearlings steady. Demand was called good for the heavy supply. Two massive lots of #1, 7-weight yearling steers sold with averages narrowly between $143.75-145.

Nebraska: The Bassett Livestock Auction sold almost 6,700 head of feeder cattle last week, but due to the recent spate of holidays, there were no comparative sales. Demand was called good. Two lots of benchmark steers sold; the small (15-head) lot of heavy (798 lbs.) steers averaged $148.25, and the massive (560-head) lot of light (717 lbs.) steers averaged $161.86.

Oklahoma: Almost 13,200 head of feeders sold last week at the OKC West Livestock Auction. Compared to the Dec. 17, 2019 sale, feeder steers were called steady to firm while heifers were down $3-5. Demand was called good, especially for heavier feeders. Weaned calves that had shots sold for $3-6 higher. There were several lots of benchmark steers offered. The yearling lots ranged from $143-155, while the one unweaned calf lot sold for $136.08.

The cutouts inched upwards last week with the Choice cutout closing Thursday at $209.96 (up $1.50 from the prior Friday) and the Select cutout closing at $206.68 (+$1.29). — Kerry Halladay, WLJ editor

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