Packers paying $4-$5 more for fed cattle last week (mostly $101-$102.50) helped heal some short-term wonderments. Choice boxed-beef value closed the week $6.74 higher than the previous Friday; Select $7.72 higher.

The boost helped steer and heifer-calf prices regain most of the ground lost the previous week, selling $2-$5 higher. According to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), a limited supply of true yearlings traded steady to $3 higher.

“The erratic volatility of the grain market continues to whip calf prices and expected feed costs in every direction as backgrounders seem to overcompensate with every swing of the CBOT corn contracts,” say AMS analysts. “As harvest briskly sweeps across the Corn Belt, prices continue to make limit moves in both directions while cattle growers and corn farmers watch in bewilderment and noncommercial interests profit without handling a kernel.”

Friday’s Cattle on Feed (COF) report shouldn’t hinder the market, as it met most analysts expectations. Total inventory Oct. 1 (10.8 million head) is 3% higher than a year earlier. Placements during September (2.46 million head) are also 3% higher. Fed cattle marketed in September (1.80 million head) were 2% more than the same time last year.

“Cattlemen will no doubt be relying on forage-based feed sources this fall and winter to help achieve low-cost weight gains; like hay stockpiles, leftover grass, or winter wheat pasture that has gotten off to a slow start,” AMS analysts explain. “However, many of the driest areas of the Southern Plains received much-needed moisture this past week which also bolstered stocker demand. Sickness on new arrivals of calves is peaking with most operations relying on mass treatment to maintain a respectable death loss percentage, but a settling of the dust and nearby frost forecasts should help the situation.”

According to Friday’s USDA Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, “Dryness in the Southern Plains is hampering the establishment of winter wheat and, along with the sharply higher corn prices seen since the Oct. 8 release of the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), will likely affect demand for lightweight feeder cattle for wheat pasture programs. At present, most of the heavy yearlings have been marketed off summer growing programs and placed on feed, leaving mostly calves to be marketed for the remainder of the year.”

See the COF report at usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/

The summary below reflects the week ended Oct. 22 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 54,700
SD
ND

$128.83
$122.54

$115.75
$117.24

$113.13
$112.27

$117.75
$109.73

$110.224
$108.13

$108.13
$109.05
OK 31,600 $116.45 $109.09 $110.65 $103.55 $102.78 $102.34
MO 24,900 $119.51 $115.96 $117.37 $105.72 $104.85 $103.42
TX 28,200 $107.43 $99.22 $108.68 $100.17 $96.15 $96.40
KY* 22,000 $108.49 $102.20 $105.47 $94.12 $91.42 $98.13
NE 17,300 $128.78 $117.96 $117.45 $115.16 $112.43 $109.63
CO 12,700 $119.21 $108.60 $112.37 $109.54 $99.72 $105.01
AL 12,600 $108.38 $99.93 $93.59 $96.18 $88.97 $83.99
MT 12,200 $124.74 $112.37 $106.12 $113.27 $104.58 $105.234
WY 9,600 $128.99 $117.00 $109.416 $114.70 $106.36 $108.24
KS 9,500 $118.87 $112.36 $111.88 $107.46 $103.05 $105.20
AR 8,300 $108.66 $102.17 $98.664 $93.77 $89.49 $89.214
FL* 8,200 $91-110 $87-98 $80-87 $81-97 $79-95 $77-834
TN* 7,400 $105.53 $101.39 $95.49 $91.45 $87.22 $84.92
NM 7,200 $110.82 $104.70 $98.14 $102.28 $94.91 $86.27
MS* 6,500 $97-1071 $100-108 $91-955 $85-951 $82-963 $77-885
GA*** 5,800 $96-115 $85-105 $90-95 $84-98 $81-91 $80-85
Carolinas* 5,600 $91-112 $83-105 $84-92 $80-97 $80-92.50 $70-87.50
IA 4,200 $125.67 $114.06 $120.096 $112.63 $105.694 $99.477
VA 4,100 $108.14 $103.58 $104.15 $92.58 $93.71 $94.11
WA 3,600 $120.81 ** $113.27 $111.62 $110.04 $105.11

* 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.