Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold 1.00 lower to 4.00 higher. Many market comments this week referred to the quality of the runs being
above average to outstanding as bidders and buyers bellied up to the ringand were active participants.  Even though horrible weather conditions were realized in many places this week, the demand for quality stock was not diminished one iota.  On Wednesday at Hub City Livestock Auction in Aberdeen, SD, a load of 766 lb red hided heifers sold for $1390 per head or near 181.50/cwt.  Also on Wednesday at Bassett Livestock in Nebraska a half load of 771 lb heifers sold at 170.00 and at Huss Platte Valley Auction in Kearney, NE, a short load of 747 lb heifers sold at 168.00. In the hills of north central MO at Green City Livestock Auction, a large package of 719 lb heifers sold at 164.00.  These consignments are from reputation ranches and were sold mostly to repeat customers who come back year after year to buy the same genetics.  Even though replacement heifers have been the talk in this column the last couple weeks, the mature cattle slaughter has increased an average of almost 7700 head per week for the first four harvest weeks of the new year.  With the increase in drought conditions throughout the country more of those older cows are not getting another chance to give that rancher one more calf to sell.  The late summer and fall pasture growth was diminished with the lack of rainfall in the major cow/calf states and hay stocks are being consumed steadily as winter rolls on.  Quite a lot of hay from Nebraska is being trucked to out of state feedlots and dairies.  Some ranchers are loading up on hay, especially alfalfa hay to supplement cows and heifers after calving. Some cattlemen are having to supplement cows on cornstalks as most are under snow and cows are having a hard time rummaging up a enough mega calories to keep them going when the temperatures get in the teens and below. Compared to last Friday, the CME cattle complex saw the Live Cattle Contracts lower; the front month Feb being 0.33 lower...the next four
being 2.07 to 2.58 lower. The front five Feeder Cattle contracts were 2.50 to 4.72 lower.  This week stocks went on a wild roller coaster ride as the Dow
posted its worst week since 2008.  From the Dow’s highest close on January 26 of 26,617, a major correction started last Friday with a 666 point drop to close at 25,520 on February 2, 2018.   A seesaw was in the cards this week as traders were trying to figure out which side of the market they wanted
to be on as the Dow realized a drop to levels seen around the end of November 2017. Even though it would be around a 10 percent drop in value, a correction in 2011 was completed with a 19.4 percent drop in the index.  A period in 2010 had a 16 percent drop; 2015 into 2016 had a 13.3 percent decline; and early in CY 2015 there was also a 12.4 percent reduction.  The ebbs and flows of the market place happen at a rapid pace, making it very difficult for someone to keep up with the swiftness that trading occurs.  One thing that old timers always say is “What goes up, usually comes down”.   Auction volume this week included 65 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.
Source:  USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO