Add this to the teachings of what has been an extraordinary drought: there may be less pressure on feeder prices this fall than what's usually expected, simply because the drought already forced so many more into the feedlots earlier.

Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University (OSU) livestock economist, made that observation in a recent OSU newsletter. He also pointed out, "Fed-cattle prices rallied to a much higher level in August than many analysts (myself included) had expected. Typically, we expect a fourth-quarter rally for fed-cattle prices from seasonal summer lows. This year, the question for the fourth quarter is whether the fed-cattle market can maintain the current third-quarter rally in the face of this most recent buildup of feedlot numbers."

Shorter term, cattle feeders are doing an admirable job of holding their ground. Last week, for the second one in a row, they forced packers to pay more. For the week, fed cattle gained $1.50 to $3, selling mostly at $91.50-$92 in late trade.

Between a seasonal boost in calf offerings and the fact plenty of folks are tied up with fieldwork, the Ag Marketing Service (AMS) called last week's calf and stocker-cattle market steady to $3 lower.

"Order buyers are wary of any calves that haven't been away from their mamas for at least 30 days and preferably 45 or more," say AMS reporters. "Discounts on unweaned or short-term weaned calves are as stiff as ever, yet it seems there are as many on offer as ever."

The summary below reflects the week ended Sept. 29 for Medium and Large 1 -- 500- to 550-lb., 600- to 650-lb., 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.
OK 33,700 $124.58 $121.41 $118.634 $115.35 $112.69 $109.71
TX 31,500 $119.23 $114.48 $109.95 $113.32 $107.79 $109.614
MO 29,100 $127.85 $122.62 $116.90 $118.14 $113.28 $110.05
KY* 23,300 $115-125 $106-116 $11-1125 $104-114 $96-1063 $91-1025
AL 16,100 $113-122 $105-114 ** $105-114 $100-106 $93-100
Dakotas 13,900
South Dakota
North Dakota

$135.50
$128.42

$131.592
$126.66

$128.72
**

$126.37
$120.74

$122.292
$115.234

$117.17
$109.40
TN* 13,400 $115.05 $107.73 $101.06 $105.66 $98.79 $93.41
AR 12,200 $118.06 $111.33 $105.12 $108.77 103.32 $99.10
NE 11,500 $129.88 $129.35 $125.53 $123.90 $121.90 $112.89
GA*(***) 11,100 $101-121 $93-116 $90-105 $95-115 $89-108 $90-95
WY 10,500 $130.50 $127.532 $128.824 $119.63 $119.00 $113.24
FL* 9,900 $99-116 $92-104 $82-96 $93-102 $89-106 $85-984
IA 9,200 $134.19 $126.864 $121.07 $124.51 $117.14 $116.48
MS* 8,200 $110-1201 $100-110 $97-1004 $100-1101 $90-100 $85-904
CO 7,100 $125.97 $119.15 $114.066 $118.57 $109.58 $110.584
LAND 7,000 $106-121 $100-1172 ** $100-114 $95-1082 **
Carolinas* 7,000 $103-126 $90-1113 $84-1065 $85-106 $80-1023 $68-925
VA 5,100 $121.03 $112.51 $108.38 $106.44 $106.73 $103.28
KS 4,700 $128.412 $118.62 $117.28 $122.81 $113.35 $109.62
MT 4,600 $126.97 $120.772 $112.427 $119.29 $115.172 $108.306
NM 3,200 $116.83 $108.04 $108.994 $107.03 $101.314 **
WA* 5,900 $115.91 $107.264 $103.066 $108.44 $100.074 $97.12

* Plus 2
** None reported at this weight or near weight
(***) Steers and bulls
NDNo Description
1500-600 lbs.
2550-600 lbs.
3600-700 lbs.
4650-700 lbs.
5700-800 lbs.
6750-800 lbs.
7800-850 lbs.