Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold steady to 4.00 lower.  Demand continues for turnout cattle with 4-weight steers commonly above 200.00 in the  Midwest.  Feedlots continue to procure needs to fill pens when needed and stockyards continue to have the receipts at their regular auctions.  Auction receipts nationwide typically drop around the first of April and this year is shaping up to follow that trend.  Year to Date auction receipts for this report are around 125,000 head behind a year ago, however those totals are 205,000 ahead of the five year average.  As the Southern Plains goes through another difficult time with drought conditions, calves being grazed this winter are not as abundant as they typically are in that area.  On Tuesday, the Governor of Kansas declared all 105 counties in the state in a drought.  The latest U.S. Drought Monitor released March 15 shows 66 counties in Kansas are at D2 (Severe) or D3 (Extreme) drought levels, where 56.19% of the state’s land falls into this designation.  Four counties along the Oklahoma border have the worst classification D4 (Exceptional) drought.  Since the first of the year in Amarillo, the National Weather Service has only recorded one day of precipitation; a whopping one one-hundredth of an inch of rain fell on Feb. 17 that broke a dry streak that lasted 126 days.  Some pretty handsome prices were paid for steers this week in the Northern Plains.  Last Saturday at Ericson/Spalding Livestock Market in Ericson, Neb., one large consignment of reputation one brand cattle were on offer for anyone to bid on.  When the hammer dropped on two and a half loads of 775 lb steers at 162.50 and six straight loads of 860 lb steers from the same patron sold at 157.00.  On Monday at Tri-State Livestock Auction in McCook, Neb. a load of 757 lbs steers sold at 160.00.  On Wednesday at Torrington Livestock in Torrington, Wyo., a half load of 656 lb steers sold at 186.00.  On Thursday at Ogallala Livestock in Ogallala, Neb. a short load of 608 lb steers brought 197.00, while a load plus of bigger brothers weighing 666 lbs sold at 186.00.  In addition at that location a load of 808 lbs steers sold at 154.25.  The CME cattle complex has seen a better week, however the last few has been nothing but a roller coaster.  The front four months on Live Cattle closed 1.87 to 2.55 lower on the week, while the front five Feeder Cattle contracts were 2.95 to 3.70 lower on the week as bears took over after an early week fed cattle trade that was at higher levels and took some market watchers by surprise.  Feedlot trade occurred on Tuesday in the Southern Plains at 127.00, 1.00 higher than a week ago.  In Nebraska and the Western Corn Belt, live prices ranged from 128.00 to 131.00 while dressed sales traded at mostly 205.00-207.00.  As fed cattle stay in this trading range, packers continue to move boxed beef at the higher levels.  The Choice cutout closed today at 225.59, up 1.45 from last Friday and at the highest level since June 30, 2017.  The Select cutout closed at 216.86 down 0.40 from last Friday.  Auction volume this week included 63 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.
Source:  USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO