Compared to last week’s sharply lower market, feeder cattle and calves traded unevenly steady and mostly within a range of 3.00 lower to 3.00 higher. Receipts were much lighter, early in the week because of the lower price levels and late in the week due to the huge winter storm the covered the entire central portion of the United States.
Some bottom-side support was found in auction markets through Wednesday, especially on 600-800 lb long-weaned calves and light yearlings with a condition that would allow them to perform well on any type ration whether it be in a feedlot, growing yard, or on pasture. However, pressure still looms over the market with neither buyers nor sellers content and about the only market participant satisfied is someone who sold cattle over two weeks ago and forgot to lift their hedges.
Lightweight stocker calf prices were very uneven depending on local moisture conditions and the cattle’s readiness for the approaching storm, but markets were predominantly higher across the Delta regions of the Southeast. Heavier yearling feeders weighing over 800 lbs found few friends with the continued erosion of the CME cattle futures and few options to achieve affordable weight gains on these types. The late week winter storm ground marketing to a halt with snowfall measurements of up to a foot recorded from the Texas Panhandle all the way to Nebraska and Iowa with nearly all of the Five Area Feeding Region adversely affected.
Many buyers pulled out of the market by mid-week and many large volume auction markets were canceled, including Pratt and Salina, Kansas and Valentine, Nebraska on Thursday. A very light fed cattle trade was reported early in the week in the Southern Plains feedlot areas at 123.00 which was steady. Northern areas continued inactive until late Friday when dressed sales were reported 2.00 higher at 198.00 with the help of the snowstorm which frequently improves packer demand.
Friday’s cattle-on-feed report restored our faith in the industry analysts with the February 1st inventories notched at 93.8 percent of a year ago. January placements were slightly larger than expected at 101.6 percent, but this was mostly offset by marketings that also came in above forecasts at 105.6 percent of the same time in 2012. This week’s reported auction volume included 54 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.