Farm Talk


June 3, 2014

Feeder cattle markets red hot

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

Much of the worst drought areas in eastern New Mexico, western Texas and western Oklahoma received rainfall that was very timely for forage production.

USDA’s Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin reports that many locations across the region had 5-day rain totals that equaled 50 to 90 percent of year to date rainfall totals.  Rains were heavy enough in some regions to provide runoff and some replenishment of critically low stock water supplies. Some areas missed out, with limited rain totals in northwest Oklahoma, southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas.

Response to the rain was immediate with pastures greening up and forage growth starting by late last week.  However, subsoil moisture is still critically low and follow-up moisture will be needed soon to sustain crop and forage growth. The recent rains are an encouraging start but there is still a long way to go for recovery in the region.  

Drought recovery heading into the heat of the summer is a challenging prospect at best.

Oklahoma auction totals were limited last week by the holiday weekend but feeder prices continued very strong. Four-weight, medium and large, number 1 steers were over $250/cwt and all steers up to 700 pounds brought over $200/cwt. Prices for heifers under 600 pounds appear to be discounted slightly less than usual for this time of year, while heavier heifer prices were discounted slightly more than the seasonal average.

Demand for replacement heifers may have diminished slightly in the Southern Plains in recent weeks (though demand appears strong in the Northern Plains) but there has been a noticeable increase in prices for cow-calf pairs in Oklahoma in May.

It is likely that feeder prices are near the top seasonally, though continued improvement in forage conditions could sustain more stocker demand this summer. Although feeder prices are high relative to fed prices, there is little reason to expect any significant weakness in feeder prices.  

Feedlots will face margin challenges with high feeder prices pushing up feedlot breakevens, despite pros-pects for continued moderate feed prices.

However, tight feeder supplies combined with potentially expanding replacement heifer demand and stocker demand will keep feeder prices at or above record seasonal levels into the second half of the year.

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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

  • Mixed emotions in the beef industry

    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

  • Heat impacts bull fertility

    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

  • Monitor medicated mineral intake

    Medicated minerals are available and frequently used to help prevent the blood-born disease, anaplasmosis. A consistent and appropriate intake of the mineral is critical to a successful anaplasmosis prevention program.

    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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