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Cattle markets are beginning to have more of a spring in their step.

Cash cattle trade was sluggish the beginning of the week but picked up momentum Thursday afternoon. The Fed Cattle Exchange’s weekly sale Wednesday failed to secure bids for their 1,000-plus head, and trade in all major feeding regions was slow. Trade activity increased Thursday with 35,800 cash cattle trading compared to the week’s earlier numbers in the hundreds. Live cattle were priced $107-111, averaging $109.50. Dressed purchases moved at $171.99.

Live cattle futures traded higher throughout the week, but the December contract settled at $111.98 and the February contract at $114.80 Thursday afternoon, a couple bucks higher than the previous week’s close.

Average steer carcass weights for the week ending Oct. 31 were down 5 lbs. from 931 lbs. to 926 lbs., a sign the backlogged cattle are making their way through the markets. Actual slaughter for that week was 2,000 head higher than projected at 639,500 head. Last week’s slaughter numbers through Thursday were estimated at 472,000 head, a couple thousand head below the prior week’s trend.

Boxed beef prices have started their seasonal incline, and were trading steadily higher through the week. The Choice cutout saw gains of over $12 from the week prior to $226.50 and the Select cutout was up almost $10 to $208.24.

Feeder cattle

Feeder cattle prices have hinged mostly on fluctuating December corn prices. After a bullish grain report was released last week, the corn contract jumped 15-and-a-half cents to settle at $4.23 on Tuesday. The contract came down over the following days and settled at $4.08 Thursday, but the feeder cattle contracts lost some ground mid-week. As of Thursday afternoon, feeder cattle contracts were several dollars higher than the week prior, with the November contract at $140.08 and the January contract at $140.73.

As of Nov. 11, the CME Feeder Cattle Index was at $135.97, a few dollars short from the week prior’s number.

“The moisture that came in as snow and ice was a burden at the time for most cattle-feeding states but as wheat pastures start to show some encouraging growth, calf and feeder cattle prices across the country are seeing an uptick in tone,” ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst, remarked.

Colorado: Winter Livestock in La Junta, CO, sold 375 head last Tuesday. Compared with the prior Tuesday, feeder steers and heifers sold mostly steady in a light test. Slaughter cows sold steady to $2 lower with the decline on breakers and boners. A small group of benchmark steers averaging 871 lbs. sold for $122.50.

Iowa: Russell Livestock Auction in Russell, IA, sold 2,220 head last Monday. Compared to two weeks prior, steers 400-550 lbs. sold $2-3 higher, while the 550-750-lb. steers were $2.50-4 lower. The 750-900-lb. steers were $1-12 higher. Heifers under 600 lbs. were steady to $4 higher and the 600-800-lb. heifers ended steady to $6 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 775 lbs. sold between $139.35-142.50, and averaged $139.74.

Kansas: Winter Livestock in Dodge City, KS, sold 2,230 head last week. Compared to the prior Wednesday, steer calves sold $3-6 higher, and yearling steers sold steady to $3 higher. Feeder heifers sold $1-3 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 778 lbs. sold between $139.10-146.25, and averaged $141.83.

Missouri: Joplin Regional Stockyards in Carthage, MO, sold 5,500 head Monday. Compared to the week prior, steer calves and yearling steers sold steady to $5 higher, and sharply higher on 400-weight steer calves, but there were few comparisons to the week before. Heifer calves and yearling heifers sold steady. Benchmark steers averaging 774 lbs. sold between $136-144.50, and averaged $141.74.

Nebraska: Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett, NE, sold 2,890 head last Wednesday. There were a limited number of comparable offerings from the week prior, but 600-lb. steers traded steady. Demand was good with active internet bidding. Benchmark steers averaging 707 lbs. sold for $146.50.

New Mexico: Roswell Livestock Auction in Roswell, NM, sold 1,284 head last week. Compared to the week prior, steer calves sold $13-17 higher; feeders sold $3-10 higher, with the most advance on a few 600-700 lbs. Heifer calves under 600 lbs. sold $9-16 higher, except 300-400 lbs. sold $20-31 higher. A group of value-added heifers weighing 368 lbs. sold at $158.50.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City, OK, sold 11,500 head on Monday. Compared to the week prior’s light test: Feeder steers sold $4-7 higher, and feeder heifers were not well tested in early rounds. Steer calves opened $4-8 higher. Heifer calves opened mostly firm. Demand was very good for calves. Steers averaging 677 lbs. sold between $138-145, and averaged $143.02.

South Dakota: Hub City Livestock Auction in Aberdeen, SD, sold 4,846 head last Wednesday. Compared to the week prior, the best test was on yearling steers 950-1,000 lbs., which sold steady. Steer calves 450-550 lbs. sold mostly steady; 551-650 lbs. sold $2-5 higher. Heifer calves 450-500 lbs. sold $3-4 lower; 501-600 lbs. sold mostly steady. Benchmark steers averaging 778 lbs. sold between $140.50-149.25 and averaged $147.59.

Wyoming: Torrington Livestock in Torrington, WY, sold 5,657 head last week. Compared to the week prior, lighter steer and heifer calves sold steady to $4 higher, and heavier steer and heifer calves traded $4-7 higher with a few instances of $9 higher. Yearling steers and heifers also traded higher to comparable trades from the week before. Benchmark steers averaging 777 lbs. sold between $139-145 and averaged $140.82. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor


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