Economy Pushes Cattle Market Lower

“Basically, the heavier the feeder cattle, and the later in the week the sales took place, the lighter the demand and lower the price trend,” say Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) analysts. By the end of the week, feeders (650-800 lbs.) were trading $3-$5 lower than the previous week; at heavier weights the price decline was $5-$8. Calves had gained as much as $3 early in the week, then sold steady to $3 lower later in the week.

“Those still feeding cattle lowered their bids for the heaviest feedlot replacements this week and sought to buy lighter weights with more options and time for a hopeful economic/market recovery,” AMS analysts report.

The AMS folks note that pressure came early when publicly traded stocks fell in the face of the nation’s $787-illion stimulus package becoming law. By Wednesday afternoon, fed cattle were bringing $2-$3 less than the previous week.

“Hopes had been high in recent weeks that the fed-cattle market was on the cusp of a recovery and feeder-cattle prices would escalate on fundamental support from tight supplies due to herd reduction, but this past week’s activities extinguished most positive outlooks for the near future,” AMS analysts says.

Friday’s Cattle on Feed (COF) report is being viewed as neutral to bearish. Cattle and calves on feed Feb. 1 (11.3 million head) is 6% less than the previous year, but placements during January (1.79 million head) were 4% more – led by cattle weighing 700-799 lbs. – and January marketings (1.74 million head) were 6% less than a year earlier.

The summary below reflects the week ended Feb. 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 54,300
SD
ND

$113.56
$111.10

$102.35
$103.85

$95.95
$90.80

$101.29
$96.40

$93.94
$90.51

$87.63
$85.48
MO 39,600 $110.42 $100.55 $91.89 $86.89 $88.97 $85.41
OK 39,500 $112.01 $103.54 $92.71 $94.37 $89.47 $85.77
KY* 25,000 $103.61 $94.96 $88.60 $85.89 $82.29 $76.99
NE 21,300 $116.18 $109.732 $98.09 $98.67 $94.58 $89.60
TX 19,600 $99.92 $96.10 $92.57 $89.05 $83.84 $81.91
IA 18,900 $112.12 $102.93 $95.46 $97.44 $91.90 $86.16
KS 9,800 $108.78 $103.39 $92.81 $99.68 $88.44 $84.08
AL 9,400 $100-105 $88-95 $79-855 $83-92.50 $76-84 $65-765
AR 7,600 $106.77 $99.45 $93.904 $91.55 $86.07 $87.114
GA*(***) 7,200 $85-105 $76-97 $72-81.50 $74-90 $70-80 $69-76
Carolinas 6,900 $82-101 $75-94.75 $75-86.25 $69-86.50 $65-84 $60-76
TN* 6,800 $97.34 $89.25 $83.89 $82.53 $77.00 $73.49
MT 5,800 $113.05 $100.08 $92.89 $98.35 $92.96 $88.634
FL*(***) 5,400 $85-99 $80-90 $70-83 $75-87 $71-81 $66-67
NM 4,600 $108.73 $96.19 $87.87 $90.65 $82.30 $76.68
MS* 4,300 $85-1001 $78-853 $76-805 $75-851 $72-813 $69-735
CO 4,000 $112.16 $102.86 $89.57 $95.52 $88.88 $86.27
WY 4,000 $115.12 $103.92 $87.94 $99.13 $88.63 $84.09
VA 2,600 $103.852 $92.304 $83.27 $83.122 $81.16 $77.95
LA* 2,300 $86-99 $85-963 ** $74-92 $77.50-863 **

* 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.