After suffering through a pre-Thanksgiving downtrend, female prices have taken queues from the feeder cattle market. Prices were generally softer in December, especially for older and open females. However, there were still a few sparks of optimism left to boost prices on young pairs and young, bred cows. Buyers were a little more aggressive on the better quality cows.

Cows destined to go back to the country recovered most of the losses found at auction during the October meltdown. Bred heifers averaged $1,238 per head in Drovers nation-wide auction summary during December, $154 higher than the previous month. Young and middle-aged bred cows averaged $7 per head higher in December, though the price was still $27 shy of October’s average. Aged, bred females declined $68 per head in the Drovers auction survey. Bred females sold for about $500 less than a year ago.

Similar price trends were found among cow-calf pairs, with younger cows bringing a decided advantage over the older females. Cows with small calves jumped $72 per pair in December, while the pairs with the bigger calves inched up only $7 per set. The small or aged cows with calves dropped $107 per pair. Pairs suitable to go back to the country sold for about $400 to $500 less than a year ago.

Slaughter cows declined another $2.30 to $3.40 per cwt this past month after declines of $7 to $10 per cwt during November. Utility and commercial cows traded $3.42 lower than during November and $9.77 lower than November 2015. Canner and cutter cows sold $2.34 per cwt lower, $13.33 lower than November 2015.

Note: This story appears in the January 2017 issue of Drovers.