Perhaps more than usual, calf and feeder value this year has everything to do with where you’re trading.

“Southern Plains feed yards are reportedly full, after numerous smaller custom cattle feeders in this region failed to survive the most recent profit drought and now have padlocks on the front gate,” said analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Friday.

Also in the Southern Plains, winter wheat pasture is behind because of slow planting conditions, crowding potential grazing days (see "Market Provides Short-season Opportunity"). Likewise, the sluggish grain harvest has kept Northern Plains farmer-feeders from the fray.

Add it all up, steer and heifer calves traded all over the board last week, from $3 lower to $5 higher depending on the geography. According to AMS:

  • Central Oklahoma and Kansas saw 400- to 550-lb. calves sell firm to as much as $5 higher, with drying conditions following beneficial moisture and wheat pastures flourishing.
  • Areas to the southwest (Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma) remain dry while regions to the northeast (Missouri) are currently saturated, which kept stocker calf demand in check and prices steady to $3 lower.
  • The Southeastern calf markets covered the full range of $3 lower to $3 higher as western orders perked certain areas but failed to strengthen others.
  • Upper Midwestern feeder calf markets in Nebraska and Iowa were fully steady, while Western and Mountain State feeder calves were uneven with good demand for reputation strings and only moderate interest for others.
True yearling cattle sold steady to $2 lower in a thin test last week.

Fed cattle lost more ground heading into Thanksgiving, trading $1 lower on a live basis (83-$84) and steady to $2 lower on a dressed basis (mostly $130).

Moving forward, Friday’s Cattle on Feed report likely will be viewed as neutral by the market. Nov. 1 on-feed numbers are in line with pre-report estimates, 1.5% more than last year (11.13 million head). October placements were a touch higher than expected, up 1.5% (2.47 million head). October marketings were slightly less than expected at 97% of a year ago (1.8 million head).

The summary below reflects the week ended Nov. 20 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 51,700
SD
ND

$107.66
$106.06

$100.86
**

$94.74
$91.526

$94.92
$92.73

$91.89
$87.554

$90.60
**
OK 36,200 $106.33 $94.53 $94.09 $91.39 $88.07 $86.51
TX 34,900 $99.88 $90.16 $91.18 $88.14 $81.93 $83.35
KY* 23,000 $90.04 $84.72 $85.14 $78.26 $74.09 $71.17
MO 20,800 $102.31 $95.29 $93.63 $89.48 $85.25 $84.45
AL 18,900 $96.58 $84.62 $78.746 $80.39 $73.52 $70.724
CO 16,900 $102.73 $94.84 $87.14 $89.77 $89.12 $82.53
MT 14,600 $105.48 $97.93 $88.61 $91.94 $85.08 $82.067
NE 14,100 $108.13 $100.85 $100.74 $95.95 $93.03 $93.29
FL* 9,300 $80-97 $71-86 $70-794 $69-78 $70-76 $65-714
WY 9,200 $107.37 $95.46 $94.766 $91.90 $85.68 $89.19
NM 9,000 $99.95 $93.59 $84.54 $88.24 $81.57 $74.17
KS 8,600 $107.45 $99.43 $92.346 $91.72 $88.10 $86.11
AR 8,200 $95.84 $87.82 $85.764 $84.40 $78.67 $80.014
MS* 8,000 $85-981 $80-883 ** $75-821 $70-803 $70-765
TN* 7,400 $89.18 $83.20 $78.74 $77.33 $72.63 $70.94
GA*(***) 6,700 $85-97 $77-90 $70-80 $72-85 $68-79 $68-774
Carolinas 6,600 $82-97 $76.50-88 $71-81 $65-84.50 $60-78 $60-73
LA* 6,500 $88-99 $81-89 $76-854 $80-91 $74-86 $72-794
IA 5,300 $100.49 $97.684 $94.56 $90.08 $94.304 $89.89
WA* 3,400 $97.45 $94.78 $87.89 $87.57 $84.87 $80.36
VA 2,200 $93.512 $85.08 $81.02 $80.742 $74.90 $75.47

* 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.