“The Great Plains followed the national trend of downsizing over the 1996-2010 period, yet its relative role as home to beef cows and heifers being retained was growing prior to the drought and remains higher than 2010," says Glynn Tonsor.
High calf and feeder prices, in tandem with softer fed cattle prices, are driving cattle feeding breakevens toward deeper losses. The Livestock Marketing Information Center estimates cattle feeding losses (basis the Southern Plains) at $200 per steer in January and February.
“The cattle market is trying to sort out strength of beef demand and how consumers will respond to pricey beef products as more chicken and pork become available,” says Penton market analyst John Otte.
Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, points out 72% of the beef cow herd expansion documented by USDA is in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. These states are rebuilding from drought even as parts of them remain mired in drought.
Patterns of feedlot placements and slower fed cattle marketing contributed to the first year-over-year increase in feedlot inventory (Nov. 1) in more than two years, but cattle supplies remain historically snug.
Calves and yearling feeder cattle sold steady to $5/cwt. higher during the short Thanksgiving week. Although trade remained light, cash fed cattle sales also sold in record territory as wholesale beef values inched ahead.