Following March’s strong market performance, April replacement female prices were mostly steady in a relatively light test. Spillover from a strengthening feeder and fed cattle market—and green grass in the pastures—encouraged cattlemen to keep those producing females in their herds.
Demand for the higher quality bred heifers continues strong, though offerings at auction in April were nearly void. Despite the spring feeder cattle market rally, most analysts expect a lower trend through summer, which means buyers of females will continue to seek higher quality to go back to the country.
Open heifers gained $4.25 per cwt during April, with the young and middle-aged open females losing $1 per cwt. A young, 1,000-lb. open cow cost about $860 last month, compared with about $1,000 a year ago.
Bred heifers saw the least activity, with only Region C reporting a test in Drovers nationwide auction summary during April, and prices were $90 per head lower. The price was nearly $400 lower than April 2016. Young and middle-aged bred cows averaged $17 per head lower in April, and $71 above October’s average. Aged, bred females were $73 per head lower in April. Bred females sold for about $300 less than a year ago.
Price trends for cow-calf pairs were mixed, with only the category of cows with small calves showing a large gain—increasing $99 per pair in April. Pairs with bigger calves declined $8 per set. Small or aged cows with calves gained $25 per pair. Pairs suitable to go back to the country sold for about $340 to $370 less than a year ago.
Slaughter cows were steady to $1 per cwt higher this past month after $6 to $7 gains in February and March. Overall, prices have gained $14 to $19 per cwt since November.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Drovers.