Despite holiday schedules rapidly approaching, USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall says there still seems to be enough demand in the marketplace to push feeder and stocker calves higher.


Steer, heifer prices continue climbingSteer and heifer calves sold $1 - $4 higher with many instances $8-$10 higher on steer calves weighing less than 500 pounds. Wall reports bidding for lightweight steers weighing less than 500 pounds generally started at the $2 per pound mark. He says buyers became “price conscious” at $2 per pound on calves weighing more than 500 pounds because “the arithmetic of $1,000 per head was just too easy to figure.”


A widespread cold front that covered most of the nation, including much of the Southeast, meant the first hard frost for most major cattle production areas. This will stunt forage growth but most have abundant feed and hay stocks going into the winter. A benefit of the frost, according to Wall, was that many airborne illnesses affecting calves should be wiped out by the cold temperatures.


Replacements were in high demand last week with bred heifers brining $1,800-$2,250 and young bred cows bringing as much as $2,500 per head at the Northwest Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association annual fall bred cow and pair sale last week. Young pairs sold for between $2,700 and $3,000. Wall says many believe these prices could be the “tip of the iceberg” by early spring, depending on winter weather in cattle country. 

This week’s reported auction volume included only 38 percent over 600 pounds and 39 percent heifers.


Auction receipts totaled 318,500 last week, with an additional 32,900 from direct sales and 23,500 in video/Internet sales for a total of 374,900. Last week auction numbers were 3,700 higher than the previous week and 19,100 higher than a year earlier. Last week’s total was 20,200 higher than the previous week and 36,200 higher than the total a year ago at this time.


For four weeks straight, fed cattle prices have remained above $130. Through Friday, Nov. 15, live steers weighing an average of 1,448 pounds brought an average price of $130.85 per hundred weight, down $0.10 from the previous week but up $5.91 compared to a year ago.


With the more cattle earning choice grades, the Choice/Select spread narrowed once again, settling at $12.72 on Friday, Nov. 15. Boxed beef prices on Friday averaged $194.72, down $1.76. Choice cuts sold for $201.16, while Select cuts sold at $ 188.44.


Compared to one week earlier, slaughter cattle trading was 1.00 higher in the South Plains direct markets. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated trades through Friday afternoon totaled 7,000. Last week’s total head count was 99,092.


USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was 156.15.