Cash fed cattle traded at $124 - $125 per cwt today, the highest price so far in 2017. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service called the trade “active on very good demand.”

Stronger futures prices, higher boxed beef prices and smaller ready-cattle supplies fueld the rally. Compared with last week, prices traded $4 to $5 higher, and a few dressed sales in Eastern Nebraska occurred at $196 per cwt.

The mid-week cash rally suggests improving beef demand and seasonally tighter fed cattle supplies.

Today’s Fed Cattle Exchange online auction saw average prices $3.33 higher than the previous week, yet top dollar on the Exchange was 50 cents under some of the day’s direct trade. Prices on the Fed Cattle Exchange ranged from $120 to $124.50, with an average of $122.10.

However, the Fed Cattle Exchange activity today suggests packers need cattle. Of the 3,350 cattle offered in this morning’s auction, 3,065 (91%) sold. That’s significantly higher than in recent auctions. For instance, last week saw just 32% of the 4,822 cattle offered actually change hands, while the Feb. 8 auction sold 58% of the 6,220 offered.