Though cattle futures prices continued to follow the limping Dow Jones Average last week, lighter feeders – and lighter conditioned – picked up as much as $3. Obviously, that has plenty to do with supply or the lack of it.

“These types of cattle are hard to find as feed and hay were less expensive this year and most producers supplemented their cattle’s feed if needed,” explain analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). “The relatively mild winter resulted in outstanding performance for both cattle confined in a feeding area or those turned out, as long as there was adequate forage available. Most wheat pastures looked dismal this past grazing season but short, dry wheat usually results in better weight gains than tall, wet wheat that tends to be washy. A considerable number of wheat cattle were forced into growing yards months ago, but those that were stocked light enough or that received enough moisture to last are moving right now.”

Fed cattle traded steady to $1 higher, with the Choice-Select spread continuing its historically narrow run.

“Although one day doesn’t make a trend towards having a 'Select-Choice' spread instead of a 'Choice-Select' spread, it appears the Choice-Select spread will likely remain narrower than usual this year,” says Darrel Mark, University of Nebraska economist. Writing in last week’s edition of In the Cattle Markets, Mark explained, “Until consumer spending increases, job losses slow, and the recession abates, it’s unlikely the demand for Choice beef will appreciably grow relative to Select beef. Observing the stock market’s reaction (as a general gauge of businesses’ and consumers’ outlook on the economy) to the government’s economic stimulus plans, it doesn’t appear like growth in the economy will occur very soon. It will likely be late this year before some improvement takes place. As a country, we’ll probably eat more hamburgers and fewer steaks until then.”

The summary below reflects the week ended March 6 for Medium and Large 1 – 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb. (calves), and 700- to 750-lb. feeder heifers and steers (unless otherwise noted). The list is arranged in descending order by auction volume and represents sales reported in the weekly USDA National Feeder and Stocker Cattle Summary:

Summary Table
State Volume Steers Heifers
Calf Weight 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs. 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs.
Dakotas 34,500
SD
ND

$112.22
$111.25

$104.91
$105.81

$97.10
$96.89

$102.01
$96.65

$94.09
$92.35

$88.33
$87.67
MO 25,200 $112.52 $102.52 $93.86 $97.64 $89.75 $84.65
OK 40,500 $109.88 $102.39 $93.10 $94.94 $89.81 $84.67
KY* 21,800 $102.50 $93.81 $86.50 $84.58 $80.38 $77.91
NE 22,100 $114.04 ** $97.23 $102.03 $98.46 $85.88
TX 22,800 $103.60 $95.97 $91.99 $89.51 $84.83 $84.85
IA 20,700 $110.20 $103.76 $95.08 $96.97 $92.51 $87.45
KS 14,400 $112.98 $103.69 $94.01 $98.76 $90.57 $86.02
AL 6,700 $96-100 $88-94 $78-89 $80-89 $74-82 $72-75.50
AR 6,300 $103.15 $94.09 $91.764 $89.69 $84.90 $83.004
GA*(***) 4,000 $84-104 $80-94 $73-87.50 $68-91 $68-83.50 $70-76
Carolinas 2,000 $84-96 $79-87 $71-79 $70-82 $70-75 $66-70
TN* 4,800 $97.56 $91.54 $83.53 $82.81 $77.21 $72.87
MT 7,300 $119.78 $106.62 $90.92 $100.23 $93.13 $85.75
FL* 3,900 $86-105 $83-95 $80.50-82 $77-92 $69-82 $69-874
NM 5,900 $103.97 $92.34 $89.99 $87.80 $83.22 $82.41
MS* 4,500 $92-941 $78-883 $73-845 $80-891 $77-813 $72-775
CO 9,900 $112.54 $101.31 $94.46 $93.73 $89.14 $84.36
WY 3,700 $122.61 $104.36 $96.99 $101.89 $95.66 $89.91
LA* 2,700 $79-102 $77-93 $85-904 $75-93 $78-863 **
WA* 1,900 $110.80 $97.62 $83.36 $91.39 $83.88 $81.45

* Plus 2
** None reported of the same quality at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
(?) As reported, but questionable
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.