Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves sold steady to 5.00 higher with many instances 10.00 higher on steer calves throughout the Southern Plains. In the Southeast calves traded unevenly steady. In the Northern Plains calves traded very uneven; selling in wide price ranges throughout many of the auctions and several auctions from mid-week on sold calves 5.00-10.00 higher.
The feeder market is fully entrenched in the Fall-Run with heavy supplies of spring born calves weighing from 400-750 lbs as available yearlings sold steady to instances 5.00 higher. A strong Artic blast moved across the Northern Plains dropping temperatures to the single digits with wind chills well below zero. This strong cold front moved down across most of the country this week and most major cattle production areas have now experienced a hard freeze. This will stunt most annual forage growth, but should help to improve the health of calves by wiping out many airborne illnesses currently plaguing new purchases.
Flesh conditions especially in the Northern Plains were a little more attractive as there were some lighter fleshed calves making their way to the auction this week and order buyers have really backed off from those calves that carry too much flesh condition. There were many high quality calves offered this week, with very good demand for light calves suitable to head south to the wheat fields to graze or to graze as yearlings next year. The market remains most active on yearlings, as yearling buyers can drop their guard and hedge that aged feeders have been on their own for long time and if they were going to unexpectedly perish it would have already happened. These cattle will go straight to the feed bunk and keep on growing requiring much less management than a calf.
In El Reno, OK on Wednesday sold 365 head of yearling steers averaging 819 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 240.82. Farther north the same day at the Hub City Livestock Auction in Aberdeen, SD a pot load of steers weighing 808 lbs sold at 258.50. Wide price spreads remain on steer and heifer calves mostly weighing under 600 lbs as price differences run mostly 30.00-40.00 per cwt difference between steers and heifers. A lot of this is due to the performance difference between them as breakeven prices are high this year and cattle feeders want cattle to reach weights as heavy as possible. Also on Wednesday in Bassett, NE the gavel dropped on 160 head of fancy steers weighing 640 lbs at 292.75. With plenty of forage in the Northern Plains, Montana and Wyoming are seeing a large run of cows coming to market with very few cows going to slaughter. Weigh-up cow offerings this time of year are very large causing auctions to begin early in the morning and running late into the night and even carrying into the next day.
The demand for cows of all ages and flesh conditions to feed is very good as there continues to be many buyers in the stands bidding on and buying weigh-up cows to put them on feed or put them back in the breeding herd. It is also worth noting that many thin and poor conditioned cows are being bought to be turned out and fed. Fed cattle trade started sizzling in the Arctic cold mid-afternoon on Friday as negotiated cash live sales in Nebraska soared to all-time record highs. So far, live sales are being quoted at 171.00 to 172.00 in the North and the Southern Plains also coming in at the record level for their region at 170.00 to 171.00. This week’s auction volume included 40 percent over 600 lbs and 37 percent heifers.