Cattle Sales Volume High, Prices Uneven

January 14, 2017 10:53 AM

Prices for cattle and calves was called “unevenly steady” throughout all regions this first full marketing week of the year, but sale volume was reported as the second largest in the last five years. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service reported a total of 499,700 stocker and feeder cattle sold through either auctions, video/internet or direct sales, second only to the 554,900 sold the week of July 17, 2015 over the past five years.

AMS reported calves under 600 pounds sold from “steady to $4 per cwt higher to $4 per cwt lower, with some auctions reporting $6 to $10 higher.” Yearlings traded steady to $3 per cwt lower, with some at $6 lower. Direct trade was called steady to $4 higher.

“Demand was good to very good this week in auctions as order buyers had plenty of orders to fill, especially Monday through Wednesday when several of the larger receipt auctions in the country took place,” AMS reported. 

The fed cattle market was called a standoff through most of the week as feedyards sought to push the market higher and packers were reluctant bidders. Wednesday’s Fed Cattle Exchange saw cattle sell at $120 per cwt., $2 higher than the previous week, but packers dropped their direct bids to $116 to $117 and found few willing sellers. Thursday saw a modest trade and AMS reported the 5-area average price at $117.38 per cwt, with dressed sales at $188.09

An approaching winter storm late week likely hurt packer desire to fill trucks, leaving the possibility they would be more aggressive bidders next week.

CME Live Cattle futures gained $3 to $4 for the week, while Feeder Futures gained $2 to $5.50. Choice boxed beef values declined $8 to close at $190.80 per cwt.

USDA’s National Cutter Cow Carcass cutout value was $163.60 per cwt on Friday, up $4.31 per cwt from Jan. 6.

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