Cattle markets began 2017 with promise as a full week of auction sales delivered aggressive bidders on feeder cattle. USDA reported feeder cattle sold at auctions $3 to $6 per cwt higher, with instances of $10 to $12 higher, compared to the week ended Dec. 23.

With many auctions closed during the holidays, USDA analysts said, “Feeder cattle prices kicked-off the New Year with much optimism as the two-week break provided an opportunity for fed and feeder cattle to regroup” and “market psychology has gained some drive.”

Many of the feeders this week were described as “long-time weaned with a vaccination history, carrying some flesh, but in this cold weather not enough to slow down the bidding much.”

Wednesday’s Fed Cattle Exchange online auction sold 4826 head out of 5711 consigned. Sales averaged $116.79 per cwt live, compared to $115.39 per cwt live the previous week.

In direct fed cattle trade, packers filled their needs at $117 to mostly $118 per cwt, steady money with the previous week. Dressed trade in the North was at $188 per cwt, $2 lower. Still, feedyards must feel good about their current situation as fed cattle prices have rallied 20% since the mid-October low.

USDA’s National Cutter Cow Carcass cutout value was $159.29 per cwt on Friday, up $4.18 per cwt from Dec. 30.