Farm Talk


December 24, 2013

Less cattle on feed; Strong prices close year

Parsons, Kansas — With most auctions closed the next two weeks, last week’s combined Oklahoma auction summary was the final report for the year.  Calf prices finished the year with the strong tone that has prevailed all fall. Steers under 500 pounds were priced at $212/cwt and higher, up 31 percent from lows in June and about 19 percent higher than one year ago. Seven-weight feeder steers were in the low $160/cwt. last week, up 23 percent from May lows and 11 percent higher than this time last year. Feeder cattle prices are expected to average 11-13 percent higher in 2014 compared to 2013.  Feeder cattle supplies will continue to tighten in 2014 if forage conditions favor accelerated heifer retention and herd expansion.

The December Cattle on Feed (COF) report indicated that November placements were 96.9 percent of year earlier levels; smaller than the average pre-report estimate but within the wide range of estimates.  Marketings were 95.5 percent of last year, with one less business day in the month compared to last year.  The December 1 on-feed total was 94.5 percent of last year at 10.725 million head, the smallest December feedlot inventory since 1996.

The COF report also confirms regional changes in feedlot production.  December feedlot inventories were down more, year over year, in the Southern Plains compared to the Midwest.  Feedlot inventories in Iowa were 100 percent of last year with Nebraska at 96 percent of one year ago, while Texas and Kansas inventories were 93 and 94 percent of last year.  Oklahoma, in particular, has seen a sharp drop in feedlot inventories in 2013.  The December 1 Oklahoma feedlot inventory was 77 percent of year ago levels.  Oklahoma placements, January through November, were down 9.6 percent while marketings were down only 1.4 percent leading to the reduced current inventory and smaller future marketings.  December 1 feedlot inventories in Texas and Oklahoma represented less than 26 percent of the total U.S. feedlot inventory for the first time since the current cattle on feed data series began in 1996.

Reduced feedlot production in the Southern Plains no doubt reflects the dramatic herd reductions in the region due to drought since 2010 but may also reflect longer term changes in cattle feeding competitiveness compared to the Midwest.  It was noted in 2007 that generally higher grain prices combined with increased availability of by-product feeds in the Corn Belt would shift cattle feeding competitiveness somewhat to the Midwest relative to the Southern Plains.  It is difficult to separate long term trends from short term market impacts but time will tell.  £

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  • Cattle markets likely topped for now

    Most of Oklahoma received rain in the past week with roughly half the state receiving one to over three inches and a few areas receiving even heavier rains that filled ponds which have been low or dry for many months.
    Forage growth, which had just begun to stall under summer heat, has picked back up.  Summer heat is forecast to return this week and, along with high humidity from recent rain, will lead to sweltering heat indices that will impact both cattle and the producers who care for them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Follow BQA guidelines when treating and selling cows

    Summer time often brings a few infectious ailments to beef cows.  Common problems include eye infections and foot rot.

    July 15, 2014

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    The beef industry is experiencing a wide range of emotions at the current time.  The level of excitement is obvious as cattle and beef prices have pushed even beyond record levels of earlier this year.

    July 8, 2014

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    Recently a producer asked about the impact that the heat of the summer of 2012 may have had on the reduced calf crop that was discovered the following spring.

    July 1, 2014

  • charolaisXheifer.jpg Summer cattle market conditions

    Summer officially started this past weekend and cattle markets so far have shown little of the seasonal pressure that has been expected.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

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    June 17, 2014

  • Should cow/calf producers lock in fall calf prices?

     In recent article, I discussed record high feeder cattle prices as well as the lack of profits for current feedlot placements. While current price levels offer little or no profit opportunity for buyers of feeder cattle, those same prices could result in record or near record profits for cow-calf producers this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • Feeder cattle markets red hot

    Widespread rains over the Memorial weekend may have curtailed holiday activities but were enthusiastically welcomed by cattle producers in the Southern Plains.

    June 3, 2014

  • Is beef herd expansion underway?

    The effects of many years of cattle herd liquidation and the inevitable decreases in beef production have become glaringly obvious in 2014. Cattle slaughter is down 6.3 percent leading to a 5.7 percent decrease in beef production so far this year.

    May 28, 2014

  • cowshotwire.jpg Record feeder prices supported by latest data

    Last week, the Oklahoma combined auction price for 450-500 lb., Med/Large, No. 1 steers was $237.27/cwt., up 46 percent from one year ago.

    May 21, 2014 1 Photo

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