Compared to last week, weaned calves and yearlings sold 1.00-3.00 lower with the increased arrival of unweaned bawling calves selling 3.00-6.00 lower as the discount on these types increases as the fall progresses. Price spreads grew within narrow weight ranges as buyers become progressively more selective and we head into the heart of the fall run.

Auction receipts were fairly heavy again this week, but direct sales were very light as buyers can’t interest calf sellers in current bids and many fall yearlings have already been contracted and most already shipped. Adequate grazing across much of the major cattle production areas is allowing sellers the option of holding cattle, but those turned-out on the Rocky Mountain slopes and foothills are starting to get early warning signs to evacuate. Measurable snowfall and road closings are reaffirming old timer’s claims that recent weather patterns have forecasted a rough winter. Farther east across the Plains and the Midwest, weather continues to be ideal with mild highs and modest lows accompanied by timely rains that are not so much needed now that grain farmers are readying for harvest.

Wheat drills are running wide open in the Southern Plains with decent soil moisture levels and a bright outlook for winter wheat grazing which should soon boost the demand for lightweight stocker calves. Farmer feeders are also expected to become more active in the feeder cattle market, but most would rather wait until the bulk of their crop is in the bin before they take on new arrivals. However, a few seed cap bidders were on hand at Bassett Livestock Auction in Nebraska this past Wednesday.

There were over 1000 head of top quality 8 weight steers that averaged 99.02 and another 1100 head weighing from 900-975 lbs that averaged 94.18. Fed cattle sales were mostly steady this past week in the Southern Plains at 84.50 and continue to trade within a narrow range from the low to mid 80.00’s since April. Finished cattle prices have failed to realize a spark from tight numbers of beef cattle and seventeen straight months of less cattle on feed than the previous year. Cattle feeders continue to take weights to higher levels before marketing showlists and have in effect erased the shortage of headcounts, through tonnage. The latest actual slaughter data posted an all-time record high average steer carcass weight of 869 lbs, which was a full 5 lbs heavier than the previous record. Feedyards were enticed to produce these giants by the lightening of discounts on carcasses over 950 or 1000 lbs. But, this week many Northern Plains feedlots saw additional penalties on heavy cattle and the bulk of their cattle trade lower (at mostly 82.00) because of heavyweight pressure. And, at the same time many Nebraska feedlots are still feeding cattle that were sold weeks ago and have yet to be picked up. This week’s reported auction volume included 43 percent over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.