According to USDA, weekly total federally inspected cow slaughter continues at rates above those a year earlier. Last year’s cow-slaughter rates during this time of year ranged about 15 percent higher than the 2005 rate for the same time period. The livestock report implies that increase could indicate a potential reduction in the inventory report coming out next month. However, some analysts think the January report will show flat inventory numbers.

On the replacement female side, USDA market reports from auctions around the country show continued drops in prices. The reports also show lighter volume of bred heifers and other bred females. 

That may be an indication that more producers could be taking advantage of special heifer sales available in some markets to sell and purchase quality replacement females. For example, in Missouri at the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Sale at the Joplin Regional Stockyards, bred-heifer prices averaged $1,473 per head. That was a record for the program. And buyer demand was high in the standing-room-only crowd.

Bottom line is that cow numbers are still at inventory lows, and expansion has been delayed for the last couple of years. Even with drought in some areas, there’s still demand in the country for quality replacements, and producers are willing to invest in females that will produce in their herd. If you are selling replacements and want to get the most from of those animals, consider putting them into a program where they can be marketed to attract the interest of the right buyers.

November prices

In the Drovers’ auction market summary, prices for cows with large calves continued to decline last month, by $38 per head to end November at $929.50. Prices for cows with small calves, however, increased $13.17 per head to average $851 for the month. Prices for small or aged cows with calves also declined, ending the month at $600 per pair.

Young and middle-aged, bred-female prices dropped $14.58 per head, ending November at $758.75. Aged, bred-cow prices also declined $43.67 to average $555.50 per head. Bred-heifer volume continued to be light, but the average price in three regions ended the month at $848.34.

Receipts of open females continued to be light during November. Young and middle-aged, open-female prices declined $3.85 per hundredweight, averaging $57.75 per hundredweight for the month. Heiferette prices also dropped $1.20 per hundredweight, averaging $65.30 per hundredweight. Prices for open, aged cows declined $6.50 per hundredweight to average $44.25 for November.

Overall, slaughter-cow prices declined compared to the previous month. Prices for utility and commercial cows dropped 42 cents per hundredweight, averaging $47.21 per hundredweight for the month. Prices for canner and cutter cows declined $1.23 to average $37.34 per hundredweight.