Compared to two weeks ago, there were not enough feeder cattle sales reported through the Christmas and New Year’s holiday break to establish a trend. A few auctions did resume business late this week and posted a higher undertone in most cases after the sharply lower feeder markets two weeks ago.

Packers were aggressive during the holiday break for slaughter cattle gaining 9.00-10.00 in Kansas on live sales over the last two weeks to close on Wednesday at 166.00, with sales in Nebraska at 166.00-169.00 and dressed sales mostly at 265.00. In Burwell, NE on Wednesday held their annual Holiday Cow Classic with 4000 bred cows and heifers on offer. A large standing room only crowd was on hand to bid on a large offering of complete dispersals and consignments of reputation young bred cows and heifers. With many top quality young spring bred cows selling from 2800.00-3250.00 and top quality Feb/Mar bred heifers trading from 2800.00-3225.00, topping out at 3400.00.

When marketing fully resumes next week with increased receipts, it should be met with good demand as cattle traders will be watching and keeping tabs on the feeder and cash cattle markets debating the question "will this cash cattle rally hold well into January". The year 2014 was monumental for the cattle industry with record high prices for all classes.

Anticipation will be high throughout the New Year; first to see if this Bull Market of 2014 carries on into 2015, later for hopes of spring grass, and finally for another bountiful corn crop. 

The record high prices paid for feeder and fed cattle in 2014, if the truth be known, was much more than anyone would have expected.

Cattle growers and producers are sure to crawl farther out on a limb if they haven’t already, but like anything else the price to play keeps going up. Boxed beef cut-out values have found their legs as levels have risen over the holiday break gaining near 10.00 to close on Friday at 247.83 for Choice product as end users are restocking their shelves.

The American consumer has revealed the willingness to pay for meat proteins. Economic output raised an annual rate of 5 percent during the 3rd quarter according to the Commerce Department; this was sharply higher than early estimates of 3.9 percent. Growing potential for disposable income bodes well for 2015 and meat protein spending.

Gas prices continue to drop, for nearly a three month period gas prices have fallen nearly a 1.00 a gallon off the national average price. This will leave substantial cash available for spending on something other than gasoline.

The limited reported auction volume over the last two weeks included 58 percent over 600 lbs and 35 percent heifers. All of us here at USDA Livestock and grain market News wish everyone a profitable New Year.