All throughout the year, feeder cattle are bought and sold through sale barns across the nation. But just like any other market, there are seasons in which feeder-cattle prices are usually stronger than at other times. There also are sales that are meticulously watched as cattlemen and buyers aim to gain a better understanding of what the market is today, but also where it's going.
Last week, Superior Livestock Auction hosted its first big feeder-cattle sale of the year, the "Corn Belt Classic," where nearly 65,000 head of feeder cattle were consigned. Prices were astonishingly higher than years past.
As I've noted in my daily livestock comments, there simply aren't enough feeder cattle in today's market to keep up with demand. Between the U.S. cowherd being culled to historically low levels because of prolonged drought and a lack of profitability, to the brutal storms this late winter/early spring that put a big dent in producers' calf crops, feeder cattle prices are soaring as buyers fear they won't get their orders filled.
The Corn Belt Classic isn't the be-all, end-all for feeder-cattle prices; last year, it wasn't until August that the 2022 feeder-cattle market peaked. However, the Corn Belt Classic does help cow-calf producers or sellers better understand where the nation's feeder-cattle market sits, and what's appropriate to expect for bids.
At the Corn Belt Classic, Region 2 (Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah) steers across all weight divisions -- compared to 2022 prices at the same sale -- brought anywhere from $59 to $76 per hundredweight more than they did a year ago. In Region 3 (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana) steers across all weight divisions brought anywhere from $84 to $91 cwt more than they did in 2022.
We've known for a long time the 2023 feeder-cattle market was going to be hot, but few believed it would be as good as it's shaping up to be. So now the ball is in your court. How are you going to market your feeder cattle this year and seek the highest price point possible?
ShayLe Stewart can be reached at ShayLe.Stewart@dtn.com
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