Compared to last week, feeder and stocker cattle were steady to 2.00 higher in both auctions and direct trading. Last week's dreary weather made way for sunny skies and drier weather early this week in the Plains States, making movement of calves quite a bit easier. Feeder cattle buyers were out in force this week as yards are more optimistic about placing cattle with deferred Live Cattle futures (December through April) 1.00 to 1.60 higher for the week even though Feeder Cattle futures were mixed. Wheat country was looking forward to a shot of rain late this week, however they sure weren't wanting thecooler temperatures that came along with it. Many were hoping to get some more wheat planted, but time is of the essence and drying this last round of moisture up at this time of year is always a struggle.

A considerable amount of harvest still needs to be done as corn is 11 percent behind a year ago and near 30 percent behind the 5 year average. Soybean harvest is 34 and 42 percent behind year ago and 5 year averages, respectively. In the last two weeks, the negotiated fed cattle trade gained around $50.00 per head for producers. This makes the cattle feeder quite a bit happier as some are now making $25.00 a head as compared to losing that much just two weeks ago. Live trading in the South Plains this week were marked up at 84.50 to 86.00 and dressed trading was from mostly 132.00 in Nebraska and 136.00 in Kansas. There has been a considerable amount of concern in recent weeks about the weight of the fed cattle gettingbigger and bigger. Yes, that is happening; but to what extent is that happening? For this example, actual slaughter data for week ending January 31, 2009 and week ending October 10, 2009 will be used. There were similar total cattle slaughtered these two weeks (within 500 head). The October date is 15 pounds higher for steer and heifer dressed weights and also set all time record highs for both of those categories respectively. When comparing the total beef production, the week in October produced 6.3 million more pounds of beef. In essence, the cattle feeder is producing approximately 1.1 percent more beef that will ultimately be seen on the retail shelves around the country. This week’s reported auction
volume included 34 percent over 600 lbs and 41 percent heifers.