"Auction receipts were light throughout the Plains as triple-digit temperatures made the transporting and handling of cattle too dangerous to their health, not to mention the health of the handlers," say Ag Marketing Service (AMS) reporters. "Many of these auctions continue to anticipate big runs, but each week the heat forces sellers to keep the cattle at home, despite the lack of forage."

So it goes as record heat continues to scorch much of the nation, forcing more cows to town, earlier weaning and plenty of head-scratching about if and when to buy and sell.

For all of that, maybe in part because of the lighter volume, feeder and stocker cattle sold evenly unsteady to as much as $2/cwt. higher last week compared to the previous one, according to AMS.

"The demand for both feeders and stockers continues to hold up remarkably well with the availability of true yearling feeders currently very tight, plus few of the calves being bought will actually be stockers," say the AMS folks. "Inexpensive feedstuffs are becoming more popular to grow calves than pasture grazing, especially in the Midwest where corn by-products are readily available from an increasing number of ethanol plants," (see the article, "Program Feeding Could Provide Drought Strategy," elsewhere in this issue).

Fed cattle ended the week mostly $1-$1.50 higher on a live basis at $79-$82.

The summary below reflects the week ended Aug. 4 for Medium and Large 1 -- 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb., and 700- to 750-lb. feeder heifers and steers (unless otherwise noted). The list is arranged in descending order by auction volume and represents sales reported in the weekly USDA National Feeder and Stocker Cattle Summary:

Summary Table
State Volume Steers Heifers
Calf Weight 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs. 500-550 lbs. 600-650 lbs. 700-750 lbs.
OK 31,600 $124.58 $120.61 $117.34 $114.89 $111.67 $108.17
TX 29,000 $116.42 $115.44 $107.85 $110.09 $108.86 $99.77
MO 14,900 $132.07 $125.62 $114.80 $122.28 $112.26 $106.70
AL 12,500 $111-121 $106-1124 $103.50-106 $107-115 $101-108 **
KY* 11,700 $115-125 $108-118 $102-1125 $107-117 $99-1093 $94-1045
AR 10,000 $118.41 $112.17 $106.48 $109.46 104.72 $97.63
KS 9,900 $132.86 $124.92 $118.08 $120.84 $113.22 $110.38
GA* 9,300 $102-124 $98-114 $96-104 $95-114 $91-104 $90-994
TN* 8,300 $116.50 $110.73 $103.466 $108.27 $101.22 $94.93
FL* 7,600 $100-115 $95-108 $94-1074 $94-109 $90-101 $91-954
MS* 7,600 $110-1201 $100-1103 $92-1005 $100-1101 $90-1003 **
NE 7,500 $135.21 $127.15 $119.82 $127.30 $117.284 $117.39
Carolinas* 7,300 $102-122 $90-116.503 $90-1055 $94-113.50 $85-1063 $82-965
SD 6,600 ** $122.194 $123.07 ** $119.854 $109.20
LAND 3,800 $108-119 $110-1153 ** $101-1131 $98-1132 **
NM* 2,800 ** ** ** $107.64 ** **
WA* 1,700 ** ** $98.336 ** $102.114 $98.52
VA 1,200 $128.852 $119.29 $111.90 $112.162 $104.24 **

* Plus 2
** None reported at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.