The leaves on the trees aren’t the only things falling right now; so are replacement and slaughter-cow prices. A number of factors are putting pressure on all classes of females this season, and the trend is expected to continue over the coming months.

Weather always plays a role in cow movement, and this year is no exception as pastures continue to decline as the weather turns colder. Limited hay supplies also will impact feed costs and the ability of some producers to feed cows through the winter, especially in the Southeast and Western states. According to USDA’s crop and pasture report, overall 32 percent of pastures were in very poor to poor condition, while 30 percent were in fair condition. Thirty-eight percent of pastures were in the good to very good category.

Last year’s cow herd inventory report showed a significant number of cows from herds in the Central Plains suffering from drought, while in the Southeast cow numbers increased. This year’s inventory report will likely show a reversal of those movements as the Southeast continued to struggle with drought and water availability while the Central Plains region had adequate moisture and good-quality pastures through the grazing season.

October prices

In the Drovers’ auction market summary, prices for cows with large calves declined $25.42 per head, ending October at $967.50. Prices for cows with small calves, however, increased $32.17 per head to average $864.17 for the month. Prices for small or aged cows with calves also declined, ending the month at $654.17 per pair.

Young and middle-aged bred-female prices dropped $27.84 per head, ending October at $773.33. Aged bred-cow prices increased $26.25 to average $699.17 per head. Bred-heifer volume continued to be light, but the average price in two regions jumped $205.41, ending the month at $936.25.

Receipts of open females continued to be light during October. Young and middle-aged open-female prices declined $4.03 cents per hundredweight, averaging $61.60 per hundredweight for the month. Heiferette prices increased $1 per hundredweight, averaging $66.50 per hundredweight. Prices for open, aged cows declined $5.25 per hundredweight to average $50.75 for October.

Overall, slaughter-cow prices declined compared to the previous month. Prices for utility and commercial cows dropped $4.67 per hundredweight, averaging $46.63 per hundredweight for the month. Prices for canner and cutter cows decreased $2.56 to average $38.57 per hundredweight.