The Amarillo fed-cattle market hovered in the $65-66/cwt. range during most of September. Even though this price level was causing major cattle feeding losses, placements into feedlots continued to rise sharply. During the last four months, feedlot placements averaged 13% larger than a year ago. This indicates that cattle feeders were bullish about the future.

Feeder cattle and calves lost some of their luster in September, but gave up only a little in price levels. The feeder-fed price premiums still remain quite substantial. Light-weight calves were actually doing better than the heavier weights which, of course, are now in more abundance.

Who's First? When anyone tries to brag about their state being the leader in the cattle business, it often sounds like the old Abbott and Costello "who's on first" routine. Of course, it' s easy to place Texas on top of the list. After all, it's the largest state. Ironically, even states bordering Texas are not as cattle oriented. While it sounds easy to say that the big four or five cattle states lead in every phase of the business, the data does not bear this out. For example, here are some statistics about the importance of the cattle business, by states.

Texas does lead the nation in "All Cattle and Calves," "All Cows," "Beef Cows," " Calf Crop," "Heifers 500 lbs. and Over," "Cattle Operations" and "Fed-Cattle Marketed." If we look at the major states in each category, the picture changes dramatically. Here are the five most prominent states in each class in order of importance:

* The top states in "All Cattle and Calves" include Texas but also Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and California.

* The major states for "All Cows" are Texas, Missouri, California, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

* Leading "Calf Crop" producers in the nation are Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and California.

* Most of the nation's "Beef Cows" are located in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Dakota.

* The most important states for "Heifers 500 lbs. and Over" are Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma.

* Foremost "Fed-Cattle Marketing" states are Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma.

* The largest number of "Cattle Operators" are located in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kentucky.

* In three areas, Texas is not the leader. The largest numbers of "Livestock Slaughtering Establishments" are in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Texas and Illinois. The most "Milk Cows" are located in Wisconsin, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. "Red Meat Production" is largest in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Texas and Illinois.

Cattle Feeding The number of cattle and calves on feed, in feedlots with capacities of 1,000 head or more, totaled 9.12 million head on Sept. 1, 1997. That was up a strong 16% above a year ago, the same gain as a month earlier and continues the upward trend in feeding.

Fed-cattle marketings during August reached 2.03 million head. This 5% gain over last year represented the fourth month of over 2 million head marketed. Our forecast equations point toward just slightly fewer marketings in September. Recent weekly feedlot movement in the Southern Plains, however, suggest maybe even more cattle were sold in September.

Placements of cattle and calves into feedlots during August amounted to 2.43 million head.

This 7% gain over a year ago represents the fourth month of substantial gains in placements.

Ultimately, these larger placements will be realized as increased marketings later this winter.

All weight groupings of cattle and calves placed on feed rose except the 700-799-lb. class. Largest increases were recorded in the number of lightest weight calves, (less than 600 lbs.) and heaviest (800 lbs. or more). The proportion of each group to the total, however, was similar to those of a year ago with the two heaviest classes representing 62% of the placements.

Market Outlook Despite some very large marketings, the fed-cattle market has held up well. As feedlot sales slack somewhat this fall, fed cattle should be able to record slight price improvement.

The increased level of placements recorded during the summer months, however, will likely bring larger marketings this winter and again force price weakness.

Feeder cattle and calf prices are holding up well and are expected to stay fairly strong.

Increased fall seasonal movement of calves will probably push downward on the market during the next couple of months. Feeder prices, however, should still remain above year-ago levels for the rest of 1997 and into the new year. l