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Cattle futures take profits as direct trade gains on week

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle futures were lower on profit taking, essentially buying expectations of higher direct trade on Thursday, then selling the fact on Friday. February live was down $.95 at $157.90 and April was $.65 lower at $161.80. January feeders were $.10 lower at $183.70 and March was down $.55 at $186.22.

Direct cash cattle business was light to moderate at $157 live in Kansas and Texas, steady with Thursday’s trade, and $252 dressed, steady to lower. There were also some live sales in Nebraska at $158, up $1 to $2 on the week. The mostly light trade Thursday was at $157 live, $1 higher than the previous week, and mainly $252 to $254 dressed, up $3 to $5. Asking prices for what’s left on the show list were $158 on the live basis and $256 dressed. The USDA says 2022 beef exports for the week ending December 22nd were 2,300 tons, most of that to Japan, while 2023 sales were 7,200 tons, primarily to Japan, China, and Taiwan.

Boxed beef closed higher with light movement. Choice was up $3.12 at $281.98 and Select beef was $.23 higher at $250.93 for a spread of $31.05. The estimated cattle slaughter of 122,000 head was up 18,000 on the week and 66,000 on the year.

At the Lexington Livestock Market feeder cattle sale in Nebraska, compared to the previous test, 700-to-750-pound steers and heifers weighing more than 650 pounds were $2 to $4 higher. The USDA says demand was moderate to good from buyers in attendance with some internet activity noted. Receipts were below the last test with no comparison to a year ago. 85% of the feeder offering were heavier than 600 pounds and 65% of that feeder run were heifers. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 720 to 740 pounds were reported at $181 to $190 and a load of 817 pound steers brought $184. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 600 to 700 pounds sold at $170 to $183 and 710-to-760-pound heifers ranged from $170.75 to $173.25.

The USDA says hay prices in South Dakota were steady to firm with very good demand for all types and quality following the recent bout of winter weather. Large squares of supreme quality alfalfa sold at $300 with large squares of premium/supreme alfalfa and grass mix at $225 and large rounds of premium quality grass at $200. Rounds and large squares of delivered corn stalks in South Dakota both brought $100. At the Rock Valley hay auction in Iowa, alfalfa was steady and grass was steady to $5 higher with good attendance and demand for a heavy supply. Large squares of supreme quality alfalfa ranged from $242.50 to $255 with large squares of premium/supreme alfalfa at $230 to $240, large squares of premium grass at $220 to $245 and good/premium large rounds of grass at $200 to $215. At the Pipestone hay and straw sale in Minnesota, demand was up sharply on the week. Large rounds of premium alfalfa sold at $245 to $255 with large rounds of good quality at $220 and large rounds of premium grass at $195 to $225.

Lean hogs were mixed with nearby contracts lower and deferred months higher on bear spreading. End of the year position squaring was an additional factor. February was down $.97 at $87.70 and April was $.40 lower at $95.30.

Cash hogs were steady to lower with light closing negotiated numbers at the major direct markets. The higher bids some were calling for did not really show up and it seems buyers were waiting for the new year to increase spending. It will be another holiday shortened week with some USDA offices and processing operations closed Monday. 2022 pork exports of 15,100 tons were mainly to Mexico, while 2023 exports of 30,500 tons were primarily to Mexico and China.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.32 lower with a base price range of $68 to $78 for a weighted average of $74.98, while Iowa/Southern Minnesota and the Western Corn Belt were both down $.66 at $74.93. The Eastern Corn Belt was not reported due to confidentiality. Midwest butcher hog markets were closed. Illinois direct sows were steady at $36 to $48 with light demand for light offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $56 to $66 on moderate demand and offerings. Boars range from $10 to $20.

The USDA says early weaned pigs were $4 higher on the week and feeder pigs were steady with good demand for moderate offerings. For early weaned pigs, on the cash basis, the range was $54 to $69 for a weighted average of $60.84, and on the formula basis, the range was $49.37 to $62.49 for a weighted average of $55.66. Feeder pigs on the cash basis sold at $53 to $82 with an average of $73.36.

Pork closed $.02 higher at $87.90. Loins, ribs, and bellies were firm to higher, with butts, picnics, and hams lower. The estimated hog slaughter of 477,000 head was up 368,000 on the week and 197,000 on the year. Thursday’s slaughter was revised to 480,000 head, 10,000 less than the initial estimate.

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