“Stocker buyers remain aggressive as winter-wheat grazing was slow to fully develop and many pastures have yet to be stocked,” said analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Friday. “Most strings of ranch calves that were sold direct have already been shipped and buyers are heading to the auctions to fill these late stocker orders. To the north, farmer feeders are still struggling to finish this year’s harvest and the short days are leaving little time for new arrivals of feeder cattle. However, many of these independent feeders want to make these purchases before the end of the year (for tax reasons) and some have resorted to being cattlemen during the day and farmers at night when the ground is firmer.”

Compared to the short Thanksgiving Holiday week, steer calves weighing less than 550 lbs. sold $2-$5 higher, with similar heifer calves selling firm to $2 higher. Feeder calves weighing 550-700 lbs. and yearling feeder cattle traded steady to $2 higher, although true yearlings weren’t well tested in most areas.

The demand that boosted stocker-calf and feeder-cattle sales last week was the highlight to a marketing week that otherwise saw more negativity than otherwise.

Fed-cattle prices plunged as anemic consumer beef demand and plentiful supplies of competing protein continue to drag on the entire cattle complex.

Fed cattle sold $1-$2 lower with live sales at $82-$83 in the Southern Plains; $80-$82 in the Northern Plains, and $129-$131 on a dressed basis.

According to AMS analysts, “The holiday season is taking its toll on beef demand with lower boxed-beef values and ground-beef supplies remain abundant with the week ending Nov. 14 posting the largest weekly cow slaughter since January 1998.

At least feed prices remain below last year’s extraordinary levels.

According to analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) last week, “For the month of October, the average cost of gain (COG) for steers was $73.03/cwt., vs. $93.97 a year ago, while COG for heifers at $78.27/ cwt. was $22 less than 2008’s.” That’s based on Kansas State University’s monthly “Focus On Feedlots” survey.

“Looking ahead, projected COG will average in the mid $70s/cwt. into 2010,” say LMIC analysts.

The summary below reflects the week ended Dec. 4 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.
MO 49,500 $106.23 $97.79 $95.28 $90.86 $88.41 $85.52
Dakotas 27,100
SD
ND

$109.66
$107.37

$106.032
$103.352

$92.336
**

$96.59
$92.94

$95.492
$91.002

$88.75
**
OK 26,300 $110.34 $95.85 $95.22 $92.18 $86.28 $84.346
NE 26,300 $115.21 $103.41 $98.24 $100.40 $94.20 $90.04
TX 21,000 $100.27 $94.05 $88.22 $86.80 $82.87 $81.87
KY* 20,000 $93.24 $88.00 $81.39 $80.80 $78.86 $74.55
AL 14,900 $94.16 $84.78 $81.766 $80.36 $75.74 $71.70
IA 13,800 $103.80 $98.56 $93.82 $92.40 $91.16 $88.89
KS 10,100 $108.27 $98.64 $95.94 $94.30 $88.50 $86.92
FL* 9,700 $80-99 $70-84 $72-78 $69-77 $65-79 $61-68
AR 9,600 $98.98 $90.43 $89.284 $85.54 $82.29 $82.294
CO 7,800 $103.89 $97.05 $93.66 $92.20 $89.27 $81.957
MT 7,800 $106.65 $101.602 ** $92.39 $87.962 $83.777
TN* 7,000 $93.18 $84.14 $81.12 $78.75 $74.46 $73.36
WY 6,900 $109.73 $99.432 $94.247 $93.51 $88.302 $93.47
LA* 6,800 $83-1011 $82-89 $75-864 $78-90 $70-85 **
MS* 6,800 $85-951 $80-863 $78-855 $74-841 $72-793 **
GA*(***) 5,800 $84-98 $79-87 $72-81 $72-85 $71-80 $69-774
Carolinas 5,400 $82-96 $75-86.50 $73.50-84.75 $65-83.50 $63-76.50 $65-73
NM 3,500 $104.33 $93.094 $89.616 $85.432* ** **
VA 3,000 $94.91 $91.54 $85.18 $77.77 $77.42 $74.924
WA* 2,700 $104.29 $100.392 ** $86.51 $84.25 $84.554

* 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.