The temperatures outside last week were frigid but calf prices were hot, with calves bring higher prices across the nation according to USDA Market News Reporter Corbitt Wall. He says demand was best for calves weighing less than 550 pounds, where prices were 2.00-5.00 higher, while heavier calves weighing between 550 and 650 pounds traded mostly 3.00 higher.
Winter may still be officially a week away, but a major ice storm across the lower Midwest slowed feeder cattle sales along Interstate-44. From El Reno, Okla., through Oklahoma City, Tulsa and into Joplin and Springfield, Mo., icy weather conditions resulted in these five major feeder cattle auctions posting just 3,700 head of receipts compared to more than 24,400 head at the same time last year.
According to USDA Market News, lower grain prices and improved hay stocks have buyers looking at four-weight calves, as the “cost of gain on these lightweights is only a fraction of their cost per pound.” From Kansas through North Dakota, top-quality steer calves are routinely bringing as much as 225.00-230.000 per hundredweight with a 600 pound hand-weaned steer pushing 2.00 per pound.
This week’s reported auction volume included 47 percent over 600 pounds and 39 percent heifers.
Last week auction receipts totaled 193,300, with an additional 21,000 from direct sales and 27,200 in video/Internet sales for a total of 241,600. Last week’s auction volume was 74,700 lower than the previous week and 56,200 lower than the same time last year. Last week’s total was 99,100 higher than the previous week and 50,200 lower than the total a year ago at this time.
Fed cattle prices finished the week ending Friday, Dec. 13 at $130.16 per hundredweight, compared to $131.89 the previous week.
Due to increased grading, the Choice/Select spread finished the week at $11.89, compared to $14.49 the previous week. Boxed beef prices were lower last week. Choice cuts sold for $198.89, while Select cuts sold at $ 187.01.
For the week ending December 13, beef production in the United States totaled 489.6 million pounds, compared to 505 million pounds the previous week and 511.5 million pounds at this time last year. Last week’s cattle slaughter totaled 608,000, down from 629,000 the previous week from 641,000 at this time last year.
USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $161.20, up $2.85 from the previous week.