There may or may not be more cattle out there than suspected, as the recent coffee shop chatter goes, but beef tonnage coupled with soft domestic consumer beef demand continues to pressure prices south.

Compared with last week, feeder cattle and calves sold weak to $3 lower, with some mid-to-late week auctions reporting even sharper losses, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The week before that, weaned calves and yearlings sold $1-$3 lower than the previous week with the increased arrival of un-weaned, bawling calves.

“Direct trade was very light again this week, with sellers passing bids that were $2-$3 lower than the ones they passed up last week,” AMS analysts said Friday. “All classes of cattle and beef markets posted significantly lower prices for the week; with Live and Feeder futures over $3 lower, cash fed cattle trading $1.50-$2.00 lower, Choice boxed beef cut-out values $3.89 lower; even the average drop (hide and offal) value fell nearly $0.50 to $8.35/cwt., which is $3.09 lower than the same time a year ago.”

Wall Street continues to totter along the path toward recovery and then back again. By the end of the week, and four out of five days falling, major financial indices lost most of the ground gained in September.

Icing on the cake came with Thursday’s announcement from Cooperatives Working Together that they’ve opened bids for another dairy herd liquidation (see Black and White Exodus III).

On one hand, you’ve got to cringe at considering what prices might be if cattle numbers weren’t still on the decline—17 consecutive months of fewer cattle on feed than the prior year. On the other hand, tonnage is diluting the support that dwindling numbers would ordinarily provide.

“Many cattle that were put on feed early in the mild summer and expected to gain a little over 3 lbs./day, actually put on over 4 lbs./day which has caused much of the heavyweight problems in the Northern Plains,” say AMS analysts. “The heavy carcasses (over 1,000 lbs.) that these big cattle are yielding have caused increased pressure to the already pressurized finished market.”

On the up-side, America won’t have to contend with the 2016 Summer Olympics as part of its future tax bill since the committee quashed Chicago’s bid last Friday. And, as the AMS folks point out, at least for calf sellers, “Wheat grazing backgrounders have yet to fully enter the lightweight calf market and farmer feeders remain mostly quiet, as both are pre-occupied with their farming operations. Wheat pastures should be stocked by early November and independent feeders want cattle delivered as soon as the last load of grain is hauled from the field, but both would like to wait until a hard freeze which normally cuts down on sickness problems.”

Incidentally, Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University said Friday that wheat grazing prospects in that state continue to look more favorable than in a number of years.

Writing in Cow-Calf Corner, Peel explained, “Many producers have been focused on getting the wheat planted and proceeding rather cautiously on cattle buying. Stocker prices decreased in September for lack of stocker cattle demand. There is, however, continued interest in grazing winter wheat and indications that stocker buying will pick up in the next few weeks. It is hard to bet against the normal seasonal pattern and predict higher calf prices from early October into November but increased stocker demand may at least stabilize prices and offset some of the tendency for seasonally weaker prices in October. Higher prices are possible as strong stocker demand may exceed the limited supplies of feeder cattle available.”

The summary below reflects the week ended October 2 for Medium and Large 1 – 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb. (calves), 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.
Dakotas 38,000
SD
ND

$107.29
$95.612

$102.83
**

$99.21
$98.18

$94.05
$88.26

$95.13
$89.94

$91.51
$89.53
OK 34,500 $103.53 $99.48 $97.79 $91.86 $92.80 $93.81
TX 29,800 $98.84 $90.78 $97.53 $88.74 $84.95 $83.03
MO 27,400 $104.27 $101.61 $99.39 $92.61 $94.47 $90.86
KY* 19,500 $94.38 $90.54 $89.20 $84.89 $86.63 $86.14
AL 12,900 $93.94 $89.71 $85.73 $83.77 $79.63 $75.67
NE 11,600 $111.75 $104.70 $100.12 $102.36 $99.65 $94.64
AR 11,500 $97.27 $91.42 $92.524 $85.10 $84.28 $94.704
FL* 9,500 $88-95 $78-88 $79-84 $72-82 $69-76 $67-714
NM 9,100 $96.69 $94.35 $84.56 $84.03 $83.99 $80.08
MT 8,700 $103.23 $94.45 $96.02 $90.48 $92.11 $86.23
IA 7,100 $109.48 $101.59 $102.81 $99.65 $97.70 $94.67
LA* 7,000 $84-100 $82-93 $80-884 $78-89 $77-87 $78-844
CO 6,800 $98.72 $96.142 $94.00 $91.31 $89.844 $89.86
TN* 6,800 $92.78 $87.02 $86.40 $80.07 $77.29 $78.18
KS 6,600 $105.95 $96.864 $95.60 $95.42 $93.81 $88.82
MS* 6,600 $81-931 $80-883 ** $75-851 $73-823 $70-755
Carolinas 6,400 $80-96 $79-88 $71.50-84 $69-80.50 $67-78 $65.50-76
WY 6,100 $105.34 $98.05 $95.26 $93.35 $93.454 $91.67
GA* 6,000 $86-100 $83-92 $80-85 $75-86 $71-83 $70-804
VA 3,700 $91.68 $91.44 $86.96 ** $88.58 **
WA* 2,500 $94.64 $92.352 $85.466 $80.33 $81.802 $82.04

* Plus 2
** None reported of the same quality at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
(?) As reported, but questionable
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.