Feeder cattle and calves weighing more than 600 pounds sold steady to $3.00 lower while lighter-weight, stocker-type calves traded unevenly steady to $5.00 higher, according to USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall.

Calf demand remains strongCalf demand remains very good as beef cattle inventories remain tight and many areas around the country have stocks of hay and winter pasture to hold calves this winter. Wall says backgrounders are already worried about their ability to purchase grazing cattle in the spring.

The November Cattle on Feed report from USDA was released on Friday, Nov. 22, and showed feedyard inventories in U.S. feedlots with 1,000 head or more capacity at 10.6 million head as of November 1, down 6 percent from a year earlier. Feedyard inventories have run below year-earlier totals every month of this year. Wall said the report appeared slightly bearish.

Feedyard placements were 10 percent higher in October 2013 compared to October 2012, totaling 2.39 million head. Placements into feedlots during September totaled 2.03 million, 1 percent above 2012. Wall says the heavier placement figure could “dampen wild desires about feeding cattle for the great beef shortage,” but he points to the data and says it is reasonable as most producers were able to hold feeder cattle to term this fall in comparison to last year’s drought sales.

According to Wall, a percentage of new placements in October are likely replacement quality heifers to be grown through winter months and then turned out with a bull next summer.

Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.86 million, 1 percent above 2012.

This week’s reported auction volume included only 40 percent over 600 pounds and 39 percent heifers.

Auction receipts totaled 339,100 last week, with an additional 35,000 from direct sales and 6,000 in video/Internet sales for a total of 339,100. Last week auction numbers were 28,400 lower than the previous week but 196,100 higher than a year earlier. Last week’s total was 38,500 lower than the previous week but 181,500 higher than the total a year ago at this time.

For the fifth consecutive week, fed cattle prices have remained above $130. Through Friday, Nov. 22, live steers weighing an average of 1,363 pounds brought an average price of $130.45 per hundred weight, down $0.40 from the previous week but up $3.12 compared to a year ago. On a dressed basis, steers sold for $206.45 per hundredweight last week, up $6.06 from one year ago.

The Choice/Select spread narrowed once again, settling at $12.10 on Friday, Nov. 22. Boxed beef prices on Friday morning averaged $198.39 per hundredweight, down $2.81 from the previous week but up $2.40 from one year ago at this time. Choice cuts sold for $198.92, while Select cuts sold at $ 186.82.

For the week ending November 22, beef production in the United States totaled 499.2 million pounds, compared to 480.3 million pounds the previous week and 463.6 million pounds at this time last year. Year to date in 2013, beef production is 0.09 percent lower than at this time in 2012. Last week’s cattle slaughter totaled 623,000, up from 599,000 the previous week and 581,000 at this time last year.

USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was 154.76, down $1.13 from the previous week.