Heifer markets largely improved in October with the most notable gains observed in younger females, including bred heifers and cows with small calves. Spotty trade for open females kept classes steady with gains of about a dollar per hundredweight for heiferettes and young and middle-aged cows compared to a month earlier. Aged cows saw the most movement with a fall of over $13 per hundredweight.

Although trade was quiet in the west, activity in other markets moved cows with small calves almost $60 higher per pair over the previous month. Losses accumulated for older classes as cows with large calves and small or aged cows both fell, down almost $60 per pair and $10 per pair, respectively, compared to September data.

Aged, bred females moved lower; however, the two younger classes saw improvement in October. Lofty demand for bred heifers drove prices substantially higher, gaining over $130 per head, and young and middle-aged cows were exactly $50 higher per head compared to the previous month.

Slaughter cows improved over a year earlier but were about $3 per hundredweight lower than the previous month.

Cash trade advanced during the month of October with steer and heifer prices setting new records above $130 per hundredweight late in the month. Continuously tighter supplies and higher beef prices encouraged packers to bid aggressively. The Choice beef-cutout price increased to over $200 per hundredweight late in the month. Feeder margins rose throughout the month while packers remain in the red.

The government shutdown masked almost two weeks of data in the month of October. Some monthly data, including the October Cattle on Feed report, was delayed.

Female markets higher; youth leads the way