Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold uneven from 2.00 lower to 3.00 higher.  Regular volume buyers were in attendance at sales this week as a winter storm dumped rain and ice across a good chunk of drought stricken terra firma in Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa.  Ranchers are more prepared to deal with snow and rain, but when ice comes that is a whole new beast.  In addition, the calendar is now getting close to March and with that turn, the start of calving season is upon the beef cattle world.  With the barometric pressure change, there may have been a few calves come early and rain coupled with mid 30 degree temperatures is not a good environment for a newborn calf to meet.  Feeder cattle were not following the fed cattle trade this week as some handsome prices were seen in several auctions this week.  On Wednesday at Bassett, NE, a load of 719 lb replacement quality heifers sold at 183.50; higher than any steer mates in that weight group this week.  In addition, a load of 777 lb sisters sold at that same sale for 173.00.  On Wednesday in Green City, MO, a package of 525 lb steers suitable for grazing sold at 217.00.  Also on Wednesday in St Joseph, MO, near 300 head of light 7-weight steers sold in a range of 170.25 to 175.00 for a weighted average of 173.47.  After last week’s 130.00 fed cattle trade, packers appeared to have sent out new boxed beef bid sheets for this week.  With the Choice boxed beef cutout value rising nearly 8.50 this week to close at 218.37, packers were glad to see the futures break on Wednesday and were not too proud to look a gift horse in the mouth as they were expecting to pay steady money for this week’s showlists.  After a surprising limit down drop of the April Live Cattle contract, some true hedgers contacted packers to try and take advantage and put some unexpected extra dollars back in their trading account.  With that hurried contact, packers felt they were in the driver’s seat and proceeded to buy fed cattle that were priced to them at 128.00.  This week’s strong gains in the cut-out value coupled with the lower fed cattle trade will keep packer margins in very good shape  after this week’s trade.  Thursday’s Cold Storage report stated total red meat supplies in freezers were up 9 percent from the previous month and up 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 7 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 16 percent from the previous month and up 8 percent from last year.  The domestic pork and total red meat production totals during January were new all-time record highs.  Friday’s Cattle on Feed data was reported at 108 percent of a year ago; Placements - 104 percent; Marketings - 106 percent.  Auction volume this week included 64 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.
Source:  USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO