Yearlings traded mostly steady at auction last week. Steer calves sold steady to $2 higher, while heifer calves sold unevenly steady. Un-weaned calves continue to be heavily discounted $8-$10.

The lion’s share of last week’s auction trade occurred before the USDA crop report that lowered corn production 4%, pushed corn futures limit-up, and zapped feeder-cattle futures an average of $1.47 across the board (see "Corn Prices Rocket").

By the same token, weather conducive to harvest and wonderments about the availability of winter wheat have kept some buyers out of the market.

For instance, the reporter covering last week’s sale at OKC West in El Reno, OK, noted, “Everyone seems to be waiting to see what the wheat crop is going to do before buying their grazing cattle. The lack of moisture appears to have farmers and feeders watching purchases very closely.”

Though live-cattle futures jumped an average of $2.68 (from the spot month on) Friday, tied to the limit-up move in corn prices, wholesale beef values continue anemic to lower. Fed cattle sold mostly $2 lower last week; as much as $3 lower on a dressed basis.

“Recent declines in wholesale prices are expected to spark interest from buyers on the higher-valued cuts,” says Emmit Rawls, University of Tennessee (UT) livestock economist, in last week’s UT Livestock Comments. “Continued high cow slaughter is keeping the pressure on ground beef prices.”

Tim Petry, North Dakota State University livestock economist, explained in last week’s In the Cattle Markets, “…The volatility in corn (and feeder cattle) prices will likely continue until the size of the corn crop is known for sure… Due to the potential volatility of the market, producers considering backgrounding and winter wheat grazing programs may want to have price risk management strategies in place... Interestingly, the futures market depicts a contra-seasonal rally in feeder cattle prices with the January and March contracts trading $1 to $2 higher than the October and November contracts.”

The summary below reflects the week ended Oct. 8 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 29,900
SD
ND

$128.07
$118.47

$121.34
$115.32

$116.20
$109.58

$115.41
$112.81

$111.22
$106.41

$109.46
$100.95
OK 27,000 $117.04 $111.79 $112.53 $104.36 $104.91 $104.19
MO 22,300 $118.75 $117.84 $115.22 $106.10 $107.27 $109.09
KY* 21,000 $107.03 $104.33 $102.51 $94.71 $93.40 $92.86
TX 21,000 $111.58 $106.98 $104.05 $102.62 $96.07 $93.62
NE 18,700 $127.69 $117.51 $116.58 $116.97 $108.41 $106.98
AL 14,100 $108.43 $102.58 $95.79 $95.59 $91.44 $87.35
AR 11,400 $110.65 $104.50 $101.474 $96.15 $93.13 $94.624
CO 11,400 $117.53 $110.46 $112.08 $108.28 $100.77 $104.59
FL* 8,700 $94-119 $84-101 $98-100 $87-99 $84-88 $82-864
TN* 7,700 $108.17 $101.59 $95.16 $94.95 $89.12 $85.69
GA*** 7,600 $95-111 $89-104 $86-96 $85-102 $80-92 $78-84
MS* 7,500 $95-1051 $90-1013 ** $85-951 $80-903 $80-895
Carolinas* 7,400 $90-114 $87-104.50 $80-92 $80-102 $77-93.50 $74-89
WY 7,300 $123.20 $117.50 $107.42 $113.82 $111.97 $105.77
IA 7,100 $122.25 $115.68 $115.246 $113.79 $109.73 **
KS 5,300 $119.11 $109.96 $108.06 $105.76 $101.66 $105.83
MT 4,400 $124.61 $107.814 $105.32 $114.57 $103.90 $100.45
VA 4,100 $106.28 $100.63 $99.19 $94.63 $92.96 $87.30
NM 3,800 $111.92 $102.39 $97.23 $96.39 $94.34 $89.95
WA 3,400 $117.01 $115.67 $113.57 $108.13 $109.17 $105.68

* 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.
8850-900 lbs.