Compared to last week, calves once again dominated receipts this week as prices for calves in the Northern Plains sold very uneven, mostly 5.00 lower, instances 10.00 lower. Calf buyers in the Southern Plains and in the Southeast were definitely more aggressive trading steady to 5.00 higher with good demand for stocker calves headed for wheat pastures. Tight supplies of yearlings traded steady to firm.
As we start to work our way through November all attention is squarely on calves as the bulk of the feeder supply is now made up of calf receipts as offerings were both fully preconditioned along with many that were not. The last couple of weeks a shortage of trucks in the Northern Plains has been very noticeable pressuring the market. Many cattle being shipped in the Northern Plain States have either been sold in the country on a direct trade or contracted through a video sale. These deals have had a delivery date set for a long time and consequently trucks have been committed to haul them making logistics difficult for buyers to get their cattle loaded out from the auction markets quickly. Because of this, markets have been pressured as these higher risk calves need to get hauled to their destination and started on feed quickly to ensure optimal performance and reduce the stress on them.
Demand in the Northern Plains has run the gamut from light to very good depending on flesh condition, preconditioning status, and overall quality. Ample feed conditions due to late summer rains and mild weather has let these calves do it all and put on plenty of condition; however that mild weather seems to coming to a quick close as the forecast in the Northern Plains as Sioux Falls, SD has been forecasted to have highs in the mid 20's and lows in the single digits all of next week.
Calf price trends hinge directly on the observation of the buyers at hand. But, its mainly all about how they struck the buyers eye as far as flesh conditions, hair coat, attitudes, and mannerisms in search of calves that will spend more time eating than bawling. This time of year, feedlots and growing yards are full of new arrivals with some getting sick for the first time and others starting to break as their initial mass treatment of anti-biotic wears off. In Philip, SD on Tuesday sold over 9400 head of calves with 138 head of thin fleshed steer calves selling with very good demand weighing 449 lbs at 380.00. In Ogallala, NE on Thursday sold 122 head of fancy steer calves averaging 516 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 328.91.
Corn Belt farmers this week pushed corn harvest up 19 percent from last week to 65 percent completed. This coming Monday USDA will issue its crop report with average corn yield estimated at 175.3 bpa. These numbers keep increasing with each report. The old saying "big crops get bigger" is definitely true this year.
The fed cattle market seems to be content to spend time between the 160.00-170.00 levels at this time as outside markets can always sway the balance. This week’s auction volume included 38 percent over 600 lbs and 37 percent heifers.