Feeder Cattle Review: Modest sales after quiet holiday

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Compared to two weeks ago, there were not enough feeder cattle sold through the Christmas and New Year’s holiday break to establish a trend. A few auctions did resume business late this past week and modest direct sales both posted a definite higher undertone.

Good demand should meet increased receipts as marketing fully resumes next week. Calf prices are expected to continue rising and dramatically higher fed cattle have also given heavier feeder prices room to grow.

Packers were aggressive during the holiday weeks for finished steers and heifers with the direct slaughter cattle market gaining 7.00-9.00 over the two weeks to close from 137.00-139.00.

On New Year’s Day, the St. Joseph, MO Stockyards sold a group of 661 lb steers at 190.00. Thursday the MO-KAN Livestock Market near Butler, MO quoted calf prices as much as 20.00 higher during the final qualifying event for the LMA’s World Livestock Auctioneer Contest.

Everything seems to be coming up roses for cattle owners, despite the ground being frozen in most areas.

Weekly blizzards and snowstorms continue to move across the high production areas of the nation with bitter cold temperatures. Some of the coldest weather in recent memory is being recorded, especially in the Northern Plains where the Dakotas rarely have seen the mercury rise above zero.

Record-high prices of feeder and fed cattle are the result of lower inventories finally coming to fruit after multiple years of drought shredded cow herds. Heifer retention is well underway, exacerbating the tightness of feeder cattle availability.

Five-Area feedlots are now looking to fill vacancy left behind by big summer grass yearlings that have been showing up on recent short showlists. Boxed beef cut-out levels are still hovering around 2.00/lb and not keeping up with higher fed cattle prices, but little sympathy is coming from cattle feeders who spent most of the last decade in the red.

The elevation of spring stocker calf and replacement stock price levels is very difficult to estimate, but is expected to be well north of current markets. Cattle growers and producers are sure to crawl farther out on a limb than ever before, but like anything else the price to play keeps going up.

he limited reported auction volume over the last two weeks included 67 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.



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