While the first two months of the year produced significant gains for both feeder cattle and fed cattle, demand for replacement females was steady to weaker. The overall female trend since Thanksgiving has been lower, though recent demand for higher quality bred heifers has been good. With the winter months nearing a close, the market test on bred cows and pairs was seasonably light. Regardless of class, buyers continued to seek the better quality cows to go back to the country.
Open heifers lost the most ground in February, closing $13 per cwt lower than January. A young, 1,000-lb. open cow cost about $800 last month, compared to $1,100 a year ago.
Bred heifers averaged $1,162 per head in Drovers nation-wide auction summary during February, $50 less than January and $76 lower than December. Young and middle-aged bred cows averaged $10 per head higher in February and $82 above October’s average. Aged, bred females declined $82 per head in the Drovers auction survey. Overall, bred females sold for about $480 less than a year ago.
Price trends for cow-calf pairs were the strongest among the female markets in this past month. Cows with small calves increased $52 per pair in February, while the pairs with the bigger calves increased $85 per set. Pairs suitable to go back to the country sold for about $400 to $500 less than a year ago.
Slaughter cows gained $1 to $2 per cwt this past month after modest gains in December and January; prices are up $8 to $12 per cwt since November. Utility and commercial cows traded 27¢ higher than January, and $13 per cwt lower than February of 2016. Canner and cutter cows sold $1.76 per cwt higher, and $12 lower than during February 2016.
Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Drovers.