Weather extremes in various parts of the United States forced some cows to market, while keeping other cows at home. For instance, auction markets in Kentucky reported heavier receipts due to declining pasture conditions, while in Oklahoma heavy rains kept receipts light at auction barns.

Typically this time of year, pastures start to decline and in states where drought is severe, more cows have moved to market. For most of the United States, however, pasture and range conditions have been fairly good, keeping many cows at home. According to USDA’s Pasture and Range Crop Condition Report for the week ending Aug. 19, 68 percent of pasture and rangelands were in fair, good or excellent condition, while 38 percent of the 48 states were suffering from poor to very poor pasture conditions. The eastern half and western parts of the United States appear to be struggling most with inadequate moisture.

The NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center’s Seasonal Drought Outlook shows some improvement along the coast in the Southeastern states through November. However, drought will be persistent through parts of Missouri, Illinois, southern Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. The West will also continue to be in a persistent drought pattern through November.

On top of diminishing pasture conditions, breeding season has ended for many, and preg checking will start sending many of those open and cull cows to market this fall. It’s time to determine if you’re better off selling cull cows during peak marketing time, or waiting and putting more condition on to sell this winter.

August prices

In the Drovers’ auction market summary, prices for cows with large calves dropped $5.42 per head, ending August at $979.17. Prices for cows with small calves also declined by $48 per head to average $919.50 for the month. Prices for small or aged cows with calves increased, ending the month at $752.30 per pair.

Young and middle-aged bred-female prices increased $50.75, ending August at $783.75 per head. Aged, bred-cow prices also increased $40, averaging $626 per head during August. Continued light receipts for bred heifers make it difficult to show a true market trend, but average bred-heifer prices for two regions in the survey dropped to $883.75 per head.

Young and middle-aged open-female prices increased 80 cents per hundredweight, averaging $65.30 per hundredweight for the month. Heiferette prices increased $2.66 per hundredweight, averaging $68.69 per hundredweight. Prices for open, aged cows remained relatively steady, averaging $50.25 per hundredweight for August.

Prices for utility and commercial cows increased, averaging $52.27 for August. Prices for canner and cutter cows declined, to average $42.67 per hundredweight.