Cattle headed for feedlots sold steady last week while lighter calves traded weak to $5 lower in the Southeast and Southern Plains, and uneven from $5 lower to $5 higher in the Northern Plains.

USDA Market News Reporter Corbitt Wall called the test on yearlings light, but saw a “heavy test of longtime weaned calves” weighing over 600 pounds.

“The market was probably stronger than the trends indicate as receipts were fairly heavy, with only one more full- week of marketing activity left before buyers and sellers start winding down for the holiday break,” Wall said. “Several major auction markets held special value-added sales this week in conjunction with their regular sale, like the OKC West-El Reno, OK Livestock Market, which sold over 9,600 head (many of which were put together early this fall to turn-out on wheat that never came up), and the Ozark’s Regional Stockyard in West Plains, MO which boasted nearly 8,400 head on Tuesday. The southern Missouri market quoted most calves from 3.00-8.00 higher with new buyers on the seats and larger-more uniform bunches to choose from.”

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 305,700, compared to 252,400 the previous week and 321,700 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 58,400 with video/Internet sales at 49,600. The weekly total was 413,700, compared to 407,700 last year.

Slaughter cattle were lightly tested and packer demand was called moderate at best. The light trade occurred at $124 per hundredweight, $1 lower than last week. Dressed sales were $2 to $4 lower.

Packers seem disinterested as their margins continue deeply in the red. Harvest rates have been reduced in an effort to cope with the heavy losses, a move that comes at an inopportune time for feedyards as cattle supplies will be at a peak over the next 30 days and demand appears softer.

Boxed beef prices traded lower for the week. Choice boxed beef traded Friday at $192.95 per hundredweight, $2.10 lower than the previous Friday. Select boxed beef lost $1.81for the week to $172.39 per hundredweight. The Choice-Select spread finished the week at $20.56 per hundredweight, a decline of $0.27 from the previous week.

Slaughter cows and bulls sold steady to $3 per hundredweight lower. USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $161.49, up 13 cents from the previous Friday. Omaha cash corn on Friday was quoted at $7.77, down 3 cents from the previous week.