Heavy steer and heifer calves sold steady to $5 per cwt. higher this week, while yearling feeder cattle over 800 pounds were steady to $2 lower. Lower feeder steer prices were most apparent on the Southern Plains as farmer-feeders in the Northern Plains kept prices steady.
"Yearling heifers over 700 lbs were unevenly steady with feeder heifers wanting to be lower, but unprecedented demand for replacement quality heifers in the auction markets aided the feeder heifer market," says USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. "Nebraska and other northern states have mostly secured their replacement heifers (many reportedly for export), but in Kansas, Missouri and states southward, producers are looking for top quality females to grow through the spring and then turn in with the bulls."
The calendar still says winter, but Wall says stocker operators are already thinking spring. "Despite the frozen tundra that prevails throughout much of the major cattle production areas, stocker demand was very good this week. Backgrounders are expecting grass cattle supplies to be especially tight over the next several weeks. Record prices brought many calves to town early this year, plus fewer cattle growers dry wintered stockers due to the high prices and the bitterly cold temperatures."
Cash fed cattle traded $1 higher at $142 per cwt. in a limited trade.
Slaughter cows and bulls sold $2 to $4 higher. USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $181.70, up $6.27 from last Friday.