Fed Cattle Softer, Feeders Higher As New Year Begins

Cash fed cattle traded at $122 per cwt., Friday, fully $1 lower than last week. Feedyards began the week with their show lists at $125, but Friday’s $3 limit-down decline in the Feb CME Live Cattle contract erased those ideas. Cattle on a dressed basis sold at $194 to $195 per cwt. in the North.

Beef cutout prices were sharply higher for the week, with Choice closing at $209.51, up $6.61 per cwt from the previous week. Select cutout closed at $202.32, up $9.34 from Dec. 29. The Choice-Select spread narrowed to $7.19 per cwt.

USDA’s first National Feeder & Stocker Cattle summary of 2018 reported steers and heifers mostly $2 to $8 per cwt. higher as “buyers were back in the seats ready to fill orders.”

AMS reporters noted sales were light for the week, but “demand was moderate to good for all weights of feeder cattle as most buyers could find a ready home for nearly all weights and classes, especially those that will finish before that ever so elusive June Live Cattle contract.”

AMS also said “farmer feeders in the North Plains were content to mostly stay on the sidelines this week as they concentrate on keeping the feedyard equipment running instead of receiving and processing cattle in the subzero temperatures.”

Market cows sold steady to $2 per cwt. for the week.