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Beef Prices Rally as Cash Fed Cattle Retreat

March 7, 2014
By: Greg Henderson, Beef Today Editorial Director
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Cash fed cattle prices retreated from last week’s record highs, falling $2 per cwt. to trade at $148 in the South and $150 in the North. Dressed sales in Nebraska were mostly $3 lower at $237.

Weakness in futures markets this week spilled over into the cash markets, yet traders noted boxed beef prices pushed significantly higher. Choice boxed beef traded Friday at $236.02, up $10.69 from the previous Friday, while Select traded at $232.87, up $9.75 from the previous week. The Choice/Select spread was $3.16.

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Stocker and feeder markets reported a light test this week, with prices steady to $4 per cwt. higher. Market reporters noted that weather curtailed receipts throughout much of the major trading areas.

"As good as the markets are, sellers don’t want to take the chance on letting something as simple as the weather steal their chance on setting personal bests," says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. "Many auction markets were forced to close down entirely this past week either due to dangerous road conditions or limited receipts. However, wintry forecasts did not fully come to fruit in many areas but fear of the worst had already affected early-week trading."

Reduced sales were reported in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky where many stocker buyers go to fill their springtime orders.

"The best demand, where tested, was for heavier stocker cattle weighing 600-750 pounds which was just right for hard-wintered cattle coming off dry and short wheat pastures in the Southern Plains," Wall says. Heavily supplemented feeders coming out of grow yards farther north were not as widely accepted, although still sold handsomely."

Wall reported a "short load of fancy Red Angus open heifers weighing 923 pounds brought a whopping $200 per cwt., or $1846 per head" at the auction in Pratt, Kan.
 

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