Cattle prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals per pair or head as indicated.

NATIONAL SLAUGHTER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

Oklahoma City-Des Moines

Dec. 15

Compared to last week: Slaughter cattle lightly tested and few sales mostly steady. Dressed sales in light test steady. Packer demand moderate at best.

Boxed beef prices Dec. 15 averaged $185.05 up $2.35 from Dec. 7. The Choice/Select spread is at $19.35. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Dec. 7 totaled about 37,000. The previous week's total head count was 60,394.

Midwest Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-80 Percent Choice, 1200-1400 lbs $124-124.50 Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers: $198.

South Plains Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-65 percent Choice, 1100-1400 lbs few $124

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows and bulls steady to $3 lower. Packer demand moderate.

USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Dec. 7 was $160.67 down $.82 from Dec. 7.

NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

Dec. 15

This week Last week Last year

291,700 413,700 333,400

Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold firm to $4 higher with the market growing progressively stronger through the week following an impressive Tuesday session on the CME cattle futures. Cattle bound for the feedlot continued to show the most activity as many cattle feeders decided to increase inventories before the end of the year. Many farmer-feeders that had been reluctant to enter the market this fall, decided to place orders to keep their tax documents balanced. There is only one more week of feeder cattle marketing for 2012, which will be a light one as many auction markets will be dark for three full weeks (especially in the northern Plains) while the Southeast takes their customary two week break. Once immediate needs are filled following the holidays, it will be interesting to see if demand holds at current price levels with nothing to drive the market.

The lack of feed and drinking water continues to be the primary concern, but significantly tighter supplies of feeder cattle should appear early next year as many of the producers who typically sell in January and February have already sold. Most salebarns have been holding receipts within shouting distance of year ago levels by selling open and older cows, which will only exacerbate the situation down the line.

Lightweight calf supplies are sure to be lighter as the majority of the U.S. herd calves in the spring. However, feeder cattle demand is best for heavier weights that don't need a lot of roughage that feedlots are having a hard time scraping together.

At the Kingsville, Mo., Livestock Auction, a load of 1029 lb. yearling steers dropped the gavel at 140.

There is currently very little discount on heavy feeders coming from growing lots, which typically are frowned upon by cattle feeders looking for cheap compensatory gain. Hay stockpiles have been depleted by years of drought throughout the major cattle production areas of the Plains and the Midwest. However, continued mild and open weather is helping cow/calf producers stretch their hay pile as we wrap-up the warmest year in history. A white Christmas does not appear likely for most of the country, but moisture of some kind needs to find its way to the central portion of the U.S. There is talk that some major grazing regions may be forced to keep their gates closed next spring unless both runoff and soaking moisture arrives in the next few months.

Fed cattle sold steady to $.50 higher in the southern feedyards from $124-124.50 and $1-3 higher dressed in northern feedlots from 198 to mostly $200 late. This week's reported auction volume included 47 percent over 600 lbs. and 41 percent heifers.

AUCTIONS

This week Last week Last year

305,700 252,400 321,700

WASHINGTON 3,800. 70 pct over 600 lbs. 40 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 450-500 lbs. $165.15; 500-550 lbs. $153.20; 550-600 lbs. $143.43; 600-650 lbs. $139.73; 650-700 lbs. $133.17; 700-750 lbs. $131.18; 750-800 lbs. $126.75; 800-850 lbs. $123.28; 850-900 lbs. $124.73. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 400-450 lbs. $143.44; 450-500 lbs. $144.73; 500-550 lbs. $135.60; 550-600 lbs. $130.32; 600-650 lbs. $129.15; 650-700 lbs. $124.52; 700-750 lbs. $122.33; 750-800 lbs. $118.42; part load 800 lbs. $120.

DIRECT

This week Last week Last year

39,700 58,400 41,600

SOUTHWEST (Arizona-California-Nevada) 1,600. No cattle over 600 lbs. No heifers. Holsteins: Large 3 April 275 lbs. $150 Del.

NORTHWEST (Washington-Oregon-Idaho) 1,800. 56 pct over 600 lbs. 28 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current FOB Price 550-600 lbs. $140 Idaho; 850 lbs. $140 Washington for January-February. Holsteins: Large 2-3 500 lbs. $140 Idaho. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 FOB Price 800 lbs. $135 Washington for January-February.

NORTHWEST DIRECT CATTLE

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Dec. 15

This week Last week Last year

1,800 1,850 800

Compared to last week, stocker and feeder cattle steady in a light test. Trade slow with light demand for current delivery, moderate demand for later delivery. Area feedlots and grow yards remain at capacity levels. The feeder supply included 72 percent steers and 28 percent heifers. Nearly 56 percent of the supply weighed over 600 lbs. Prices are FOB weighing point with a 1-4 percent shrink or equivalent and with a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 3-6 cent slide on yearlings.

Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: Current FOB Price: 550-600 lbs. $140 Idaho. Future delivery FOB Price: 850 lbs. $140 Washington for January-February.

Holstein Steers: Large 2-3: 500 lbs. $140 Idaho.

Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: Future delivery FOB Price: 800 lbs. $135 Washington for January-February.

Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter

Recommended for you