Fed cattle prices moved $2 to $3 higher this week with trades in the Southern Plains at $144 to $145 per cwt., and Northern cattle selling at $145 to $147 per cwt. Cattle sold on a dressed basis in the North at $230 to $232, an increase of $5.
Feeder cattle continue to find strong support with all classes of feeder cattle and calves $1 to $5 per cwt. higher. Catching the full advance were middle-weight cattle, those in the 500 to 800 pound range.
(Read Pro Farmer's full cattle market analysis.)
"Competition has increased on these cattle and grass interests are becoming more prevalent as winter’s tight grip is starting to ease near the major grazing areas," says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. "Orders for stocker cattle are only going to get more aggressive as the calendar turns to March and April. Producers have been selling their calf crop ahead this year with record prices and a miserably cold winter to blame."
USDA’s monthly cattle on feed report, released Friday afternoon, provides some bearish news for summer futures contracts. Placements into feedyards during January totaled 2.029 million head, 9 percent higher than last year, and about 3 percent higher than the pre-report estimates. The total number on feed was pegged at 10.59 million, 5 percent lower than last year. Cattle marketed during January were also down 5 percent at 1.788 million head.
Boxed beef prices moved higher during the week on limited supplies. Choice boxed beef closed Friday at $213.75, with Select at $210.88. The Choice-Select spread was $2.87.
Slaughter cows and bulls sold steady to 3.00 higher. USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $181.70 per cwt., up $6.27 from last Friday.