Stocker and feeder cattle prices jumped $2 to $5 per hundredweight last week on strong demand and improving weather conditions. Auction markets also reported an increase in volume for buyers and an upward trend in the futures markets.

Cash fed-cattle prices also increased $2 per hundredweight last week, and supplies of feeder cattle remain tight, which continues to support prices for replacement cattle. Feedyards are still struggling with negative margins, but closeouts are much improved over recent months. Demand for grazing cattle was excellent last week in regions that have been hampered by cool weather.

Stocker and feeder cattle prices are expected to trade in a narrow range through the remainder of the spring. Analysts warn that the weak economy, soft beef demand and the threat of another steep increase in feed costs, if corn yields fall short, may warrant some risk protection for owners of feeder cattle.

Feeder steers weighing 700 to 800 pounds sold at auction in a range of $92 to $100 per hundredweight last week, with the bulk of cattle at $95 to $99. Steer calves weighing 450 to 500 pounds sold in a range of $113 to $123 per hundredweight, with the bulk of cattle in the $117 to $121 range. Cash fed-cattle prices were reported $2 higher at $86 per hundredweight, with a few sales at $87.