Fed cattle traded at sharply higher prices last week as a winter storm knocked 100 pounds off shipping weights at many Central Plains feedyards. The market was called $4 to $5 per hundredweight higher on a live basis, and up to $8 per hundredweight higher dressed. Southern feedyards sold cattle at $128 per hundredweight with instances of $129. Cattle from Northern feedyards traded at $202 to $204 dressed and $127 to $129 live.

The large storm across the Central Plains prevented an adequate test of stocker and feeder cattle prices, but early week prices had a strong undertone where weather was not a factor. The weekly auction receipts were 21 percent lower than the previous week, and 46 percent lower than the same week a year ago.

Prices in the Northern Plains were called steady to $3 per hundredweight lower and weak to $8 per hundredweight lower in the Southeast. Prices firmed up late in the week following the rally in the fed cattle market.

The weather was the driving factor across most markets. “The Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma areas were probably the hardest hit, with high winds and up to 20 inches of snow building mountainous drifts and allowing cattle to simply walk over fences,” said USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. “The storm then pummeled Kansas and Missouri again with many auction markets forced to close or operate under extremely reduced receipts and sharply lower market undertones. There were reports of significant death loss on lightweight cattle that were not yet acclimated, but most feedlots reportedly weathered the storms fairly well. Both storms covered some of the most drought ravaged areas in the United States and the moisture was welcomed despite the crippling conditions they caused. The lack of cattle movement over the past two weeks and the shear limited availability of feeders have put dwindling nationwide auction receipts 21 percent behind year ago levels.”

After two weeks of reduced auction offerings, market analysts expect warmer weather should spur demand for both stockers and feeders “with newfound interest in early grazing.”

Boxed beef prices were higher on moderate to good demand and moderate offerings. Choice boxed beef increased $5.21 on the week to close Friday at $188.10. Select boxed beef was up $5.41 for the week to close at $185.81. The Choice-Select spread was $2.29.

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 $167.50 per hundredweight, up $0.83 from the previous Friday.