Sort & Cull

Is the Feeder Cattle Run for the Year Over Already?

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
With a smaller cow herd and pressures related to both drought conditions and a lack of profitability, feeder cattle have been marketed earlier than in years past. (Photo by Mike Boyatt)

This year's feeder cattle run isn't shaping up to be like years past -- drought and profitability concerns have forced ranchers to market their cattle earlier than normal. For months large video sale receipts and higher placements on the Cattle on Feed Reports should have alerted buyers that sales later this year were going to be light. Still, some buyers are shocked by just how small sale receipts have been during the last two weeks.

For example, throughout all of Nebraska last week, sale barns marketed 26,391 head of feeder cattle -- which was 7,089 head fewer than the same week a year ago. North Dakota's Weekly Cattle auction summary shared that last week the state marketed 7,759 head of feeder cattle, which was 2,173 head fewer than the same week a year ago. And New Mexico's Weekly Cattle Auction summary stated that last week the state only marketed 902 head of feeder cattle, as opposed to marketing 4,117 head last year.

There were some states that saw greater sale volumes last week than a year ago (Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri to name a few) but the market's trend appears to be telling us this year's feeder cattle run could be all but done.

Last week the feeder cattle complex saw mixed interest, but with feed prices continuing to be a volatile and expensive input, finding a breakeven equation is tough in this market -- let alone a profit for feedlots.

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


Cattlemen are eager for supply and demand mechanics to swing their way, but the market isn't completely free of hurdles as bearish concerns about the U.S. and global economies loom. Hear DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart's thoughts on the 2023 cattle market at the all-virtual DTN Ag Summit on Dec. 12-13. Full details available at…


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