Good news travels fast, and USDA’s crop planting intentions report from the previous week apparently was on every order buyer’s mind as stocker and feeder prices jumped significantly higher last week. All classes traded $3 to $10 higher, with flyweights under 450-pounds as much as $15 per hundredweight higher.

Late-week Thursday and Friday auctions didn’t see the advance as they had already jumped higher on the corn news the day before Good Friday.

“The corn stocks information turned out to be instigator of the turnaround with old crop nearby CBOT contracts now roughly 1.00 lower than before (the report) to near $6.30 per bushel,” says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. “New crop corn contracts lost less than half as much ground but still sit around $1 under May contracts, which sounds a whole lot better to cattle feeders than the $7 per bushel range they have been feeding for months.”

Dramatically improving weather – warmer temperatures coupled with the moisture from early spring snow and rain – also added to the enthusiasm of cattle buyers, “especially on stocker cattle that are in suitable condition for immediate turnout and compensatory gain on greening pastures,” Wall said.

Although pockets of grazing country still need spring moisture, grass fever moved to near epidemic levels with auctions seeing new buyers in the seats.

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 216,700, compared to 162,000 the previous week and 206,800 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 57,400 with video/Internet sales at 5,800. The weekly total was 279,900, compared to 257,700 last year.

Cash fed cattle traded steady to $1 higher at $128 to $129 per hundredweight following the rally the previous week. Dressed sales in Nebraska traded $1 per hundredweight higher at $204 to $205.

Boxed beef prices traded mixed for week. Choice boxed beef increased $2.25 on the week to close Friday at $191.32. Select boxed beef was down $1.83 for the week to close at $187.01. The Choice-Select was $4.31.

Slaughter cows and bulls sold unevenly steady on a live basis at auction. USDA’s Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $170.50 per hundredweight, down $0.24 from the previous Friday.