After ending the year on a very strong note, the fed cattle trade seemed to toss its version of deflate-gate into the game the last two weeks. However, for the week ending Jan. 20, the trade caught an updraft and reclaimed most if not all of the money it left on the table earlier in the month.

While it’s far too soon to begin to talk about trends, the bounce-back was certainly welcome. And as we head into what is seasonally an up-trending fed cattle market, perhaps it’s a sign of things to come. Time will tell.

The Five Area formula sales volume totaled 201,126 head, compared with about 209,718 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 85,151 head, compared with about 93,313 head the previous week.   

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 615,000 head, compared with 571,000 head the same week last year. That brings the current year-to-date total to 47,000 head higher than last year.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 46,000 head, compared with about 55,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 229,000 head of forward contracts available for January and 193,000 head in February.

Now looking at prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $122.89 per cwt, compared with $119.92 the previous week, an uptick of $2.97. The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $194.89, compared with $191.72 the previous week, $3.17 higher.

The Five Area average formula price was $193.59, compared with $195.52 the previous week, making it $1.93 lower.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Jan. 6 was 900 pounds, 2 pounds lower than the week prior and 5 pounds lower than the 905 pounds notched the same week last year.

The Choice-Select spread was $4.70 on Friday, compared with $6.59 the previous week and a $3.78 spread last year. This spread always drops this time of the year because of lower Choice steak sales and increasing roast-type items which are less dependent on the Choice grade.