Receipts of stocker and feeder cattle were 92,000 head lower last week than the same week a year ago, a 35 percent decline, according to USDA Market News. Prices were called unevenly steady, from $3 per hundredweight higher to $3 lower. Lower auction receipts early in the week were attributed to lower prices and late in the week due to a huge winter storm across the Central Plains.

“Some bottom-side support was found in auction markets through Wednesday,” said USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall, “especially on 600-800 lb long-weaned calves and light yearlings with a condition that would allow them to perform well on any type ration whether in a feedlot, growing yard or on pasture.”

He noted that pressure still looms over the market, “with neither buyers nor sellers content and about the only market participant satisfied is someone who sold cattle over two weeks ago and forgot to lift their hedges.  Lightweight stocker calf prices were very uneven depending on local moisture conditions and the cattle’s readiness for the approaching storm, but markets were predominantly higher across the Delta regions of the Southeast.  Heavier yearling feeders weighing over 800 lbs found few friends with the continued erosion of the CME cattle futures and few options to achieve affordable weight gains on these types.” 

Cattle feeders were generally unsuccessful in coaxing higher bids from packers until late in the week.  Harvest-ready cattle sold at $123 per hundredweight in the south, and at $123 to $124 in Nebraska, mostly steady with the previous week. Late week trades in Kansas occurred at $125. Dressed prices were quoted at $195 to $196 per hundredweight.

Boxed beef prices were called steady to firm on moderate to fairly good demand and moderate offerings. Choice boxed beef increased $0.94 on the week to close Friday at $182.89. Select boxed beef was down $0.21 for the week to close at $180.40. The Choice-Select spread was $2.70.

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 167,300 compared to 219,000 the previous week and 259,300 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 54,200 with video/Internet sales at 2,800. The weekly total was 224,300, compared to 320,300 last year.

Slaughter cows sold steady to $2 per hundredweight higher, bulls sold $1 to $3 higher. USDA’s Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $166.88 per hundredweight, down $0.38 from the previous Friday.