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

NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

Feb. 24

This week Last week Last year

320,300 337,700 386,400

Compared to the previous week, feeder cattle sold $1-4 higher with stocker cattle and calves trading $3-10 higher on the heels of last week's new record-high fed cattle trade that boasted a weekly five-area feedlot region weighted average steer price of $128.03. The sharpest gains were noted on pee-wee calves (under 450 lbs) in the Southeast as backgrounders near the major Central U.S. grazing regions are calling their favorite Southern order buyer, after exhausting attempts to purchase lightweights closer to home. Most calf orders are given out in "dollars per head" which has turned up the heat on featherweights (under 350 lbs.) in an attempt to stay under the strike price. Order buyers at the salebarn in Okeechobee, Fla., teased the alligator on 200-300 lb. steers and bulls this past week with top prices on this class up to 285 and the entire weight range averaging over $250. Few of us have gotten used to hearing calf prices in the $2 range, now do we need to prepare ourselves for $3 per lb.? Stocker cattle demand does not appear to be cooling off and it looks like we're headed for an early spring. Temperatures warmed up into the 70s across the southern half of the nation early in the week before a narrow strip of wintry weather invaded much of Nebraska, Iowa and eastward. Adequate moisture recently in the Hard Red Winter Wheat region coupled with warm sunshine has popped the bright green wheat pastures and invigorated graze-out opportunities, but many farmers will elect to make a crop this year or better yet harvest wheat hay. Tight inventories of cattle have hit home for boneless beef processors as culling season is now over and high dressing slaughter cows and bulls are bringing over $100 at auction, well before the peak of grilling season. Friday's cattle-on-feed report sprinkled an additional dash of bullish news on the cattle market as the bears continue to hibernate. Feb. 1 on-feed totals came in very near projections at 102.1 percent of a year ago, January placements and marketings were 97.8 and 102.4 percent respectively which was friendlier to the cattle market than most analysts expected. Commodity speculators could cash-in on the day trade of shorting nearby Live Cattle contracts on Thursdays again this week, just like old faithful. Fed cattle trading finally broke loose late Friday afternoon with early live sales steady in Kansas at $128 while eastern Nebraska sold $3 lower at $200 in the beef. This week's reported feeder cattle auction volume included 53 percent over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.

AUCTIONS

This week Last week Last year

259,300 213,900 309,800

WASHINGTON 2200. 76 pct over 600 lbs. 39 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 450-500 lbs. $179.53; 550-600 lbs. $177.12; 600-650 lbs. $172.48; 650-700 lbs. $169.12; 700-750 lbs. $155.95; 750-800 lbs. $152.09; 800-850 lbs. $145.27; Pkg 867 lbs. $145. Medium and Large 1-2 450-500 lbs. $167.74; 550-600 lbs. $157.20; 600-650 lbs. $152.15; Replacement 650 lbs. $173.50; 700-750 lbs. $140.64; 750-800 lbs. $139.51.

DIRECT

This week Last week Last year

54,500 77,500 57,800

SOUTHWEST (Arizona-California-Nevada) 1,800. 11 pct over 600 lbs. No heifers. Steers: Medium and large 1-2 March 700 lbs. $152. Holsteins: Large 3 June 275 lbs. $193 del.

NORTHWEST (Washington-Oregon-Idaho) 3,000. 69 pct over 600 lbs. 39 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current FOB 850-900 lbs. $144 Washington; October-December 500-600 lbs. $181-185 value added Washington-Idaho; October 600-650 lbs. $170 value added calves Oregon; 750 lbs. $149 Washington; September 850-900 lbs. $151 Idaho del. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current FOB 850 lbs. $140 Washington; December 450-500 lbs. $177 value added Idaho; October 550-600 lbs. $163 value added Oregon; October 550-600 lbs. $146 Washington; September 800-850 lbs. $141 October.

NORTHWEST DIRECT CATTLE

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Feb. 24

This week Last week Last year

3,000 21,500 3,950

Compared to last week, Feeder cattle steady to firm even though some producers are passing on higher bids. Trade slow to moderate as most action happened last week. Demand remains very good. The feeder supply included 61 percent steers and 39 percent heifers. Near 69 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 Prices: 850-900 lbs. $144 Washington. Future FOB Prices: 500-600 lbs. $181-185 value added for October-December Washington-Idaho; 600-650 lbs. $170 value added calves for October Oregon; 750 lbs. $149 for October Washington. Future Delivered Prices: 850-900 lbs. $151 for September Idaho.

Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: Current FOB Prices: 850 lbs. $140 Washington. Future FOB Prices: 450-500 lbs. $177 value added for December Idaho; 550-600 lbs. $163 value added for October Oregon; 550-600 lbs. $146 for October Washington; 800-850 lbs. $141 for September-October.

NATIONAL SLAUGHTER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

Oklahoma City-Des Moines

Feb. 24

Compared to the previous week: Slaughter cattle trading sharply higher. Sales in Texas and Kansas $4-5 higher with dressed sales in Nebraska $6 higher. Limited supplies the driving force as slaughter cattle far outselling the average reported Boxed Beef price by as much as $15/cwt. Slaughter rates up some from the previous week, however still down by about 6 percent from a year ago. Boxed beef prices Feb. 24 averaged $187.82 up $3.56 from Feb. 17. The Choice/Select spread is at $4.79. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Feb. 24 totaled about 107,000 head. Last week's total head count was 134,386.

Midwest Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-80 Percent Choice, 1200-1400 lbs. $128-128.50 Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers: $203.

South Plains Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 35-65 percent Choice, 1100-1400 lbs. $128-129.50

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows $3-5 higher, sales in the Southeast holding mostly steady. Slaughter bulls steady to $3 higher. USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Feb. 24 was $165.57 up $1.49 from Feb. 17.

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