Packers grudgingly paid higher money for fed cattle this week, though the increases were not across the board. Cash prices in Iowa topped the week at $128 on Thursday, $2 to $4 higher than last week. Colorado sales were at $125 to $126, steady to $1 higher. Nebraska cattle sold at $126 to $127, steady to $2 higher, with dressed sales at $202. Texas and Kansas cattle sold at $124 to $125, steady with last week.

The trade was made with record large basis levels in place as cash cattle sold $7 to $10 over the CME April live cattle futures price. Cash prices were supported by further gains in the cutout price. Choice cutout was at $219.83, up $7.21 for the week, while Select was quoted at $210.99, up $5.28.

Steer and heifer calves sold mostly steady to $5 higher at auction, with instances of $1 to $2 lower in the north central region, according to Agricultural Marketing Service reporters. Feeder steers and heifers traded uneven, with prices $3 lower to $5 higher.

“Demand continues to be very good for grazing calves, as cattle raisers are eager to turn their cattle out on grass,” AMS said. “Due to limited numbers, premiums were paid for good quality, long-time weaned calves with all their shots, with discounts placed on fleshy, un-weaned soft bawling calves. In a few sale barns 300 lb. steer and bull calves started to break the $2 mark, as buyers are willing to pay more for these cattle if they have the right condition.”

The USDA National Cutter Cow Carcass Cutout price was $167.64.