All classes of females trended significantly lower during September, save for the anomaly of aged, bred females that posted $15 per head gains. Other classes declined $75 to as much as $225 lower. The trend mirrored the struggling fed cattle market over the past month.

Open female prices declined $7 to $11 per cwt, with young-and-middle-aged open cows mostly steady compared to August prices. Those prices are $31 to $41 per cwt lower than September 2015.

Bred heifers and young-and-middle-aged bred cows declined $75 to $146 per head, and the afore-mentioned aged, bred cows showing $15 per head gains.

Prices for cow-calf pairs tumbled $66 to $225 per pair during September. The market for small cows with calves fell $225, while prices for cows with large calves declined $200 per pair. Small or aged cows with calves, usually a market not well-tested, fell a modest $66 per pair. Slaughter cows saw declines of $9 per cwt for both utility and commercial cows as well as canners and cutters.

The anticipated September surge in beef demand never materialized, pulling cattle markets lower. Calf producers are staring at prices $400 to $500 per head lower than just one year ago. Analysts still see the potential of modestly higher fed cattle prices, which would boost feedyard buyers' willingness to be aggressive bidders. Consumer demand might still improve this fall, but it will be against significantly larger red meat and poultry supplies that will continue into 2017.  

Note: This story appeared in the October 2016 issue of Drovers.