Compared to last week, feeder calves under 550 lbs sold mostly steady to 5.00 higher early week, with trends from mid-week on turning mostly 5.00 to instances 10.00 lower. Bigger calves and yearlings traded weak to 5.00 lower, with spots 10.00 lower after mid-week. Lightweight calf buyers were aggressive to fill orders as receipts were fairly heavy, with only one more full-week of marketing activity left before buyers and sellers start winding down for the holiday break.

Farmer feeders and backgrounders were especially active in their last opportunities to invest money in feeders before the end of the year. Bigger calves mostly over 550 lbs and yearlings felt pressure this week as cattle markets got off to a rocky start on Monday as the majority of Live and Feeder cattle contracts closed down the limit with limit down losses on Feeder contracts on Thursday and sharp losses again on Friday.

Declines in cattle futures and fat cattle markets are looking to find their footing through the end of the year. Last Friday’s disappointing lower moves in cash fed cattle trade is keeping markets under pressure. With cattle bulls wanting to head to the exits and bears coming out of the woods has packers not wanting to pay more and feedlots not wanting to take less than they have to.

Boxed beef cut-outs seem to have hit a pre-Christmas slump as poor processing margins will keep packers on the defensive with the seasonal slide in Boxed beef prices.  This has packers pretty much wanting to put a "full court press" on the fat cattle trade.

Lightweight calves weighing mostly from 350-450 lbs can hold more options as cattle growers need as long as they can to see if they can grow them efficiently into yearlings next summer. Many auctions are holding Special Bred Heifer and Cow sales this month with Public Auction Yards (PAYS) in Billings, MT holding their annual Blue Ribbon Special Bred Heifer and Cow sale a two day auction on Tuesday and Wednesday selling over 7000 head of top quality bred heifers and cows. A packed house of buyers was in attendance to buy many long strings of reputation bred cows and heifers that were on offer. Many of the top quality bred heifers weighing over 1000 lbs with Feb-Mar calving period sold from 2800.00-3100.00 and with young bred cows (mostly 3-4 yrs) with Feb-April calving periods selling from 2700.00-3125.00 and very high quality young bred cows at 3550.00-3875.00.

With many auctions holding special bred cow and heifers sales, many farmers and ranchers have gooseneck trailers, plenty of hay and corn to try and pluck one more bred cow or one with enough youth to give it another try. USDA’s Supply and Demand Report issued on Wednesday contained few surprises and no large changes before the year’s final estimates come out in January.

​USDA left the corn balance sheet unchanged with ending stocks just below 2 billion bushels (1,998 bb) within the range of pre-report expectations. In Kansas on Friday negotiated cash fed cattle traded 4.00 lower at 164.00 while dressed sales in Nebraska were mostly 7.00-8.00 lower at 256.00-257.00. For the week, live sales in Nebraska sold 4.00-6.00 lower from 160.00-164.00. This week’s auction volume included 49 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.