Cattle prices have been rising following widespread rains and improved winter grazing prospects, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Dr. David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock marketing economist, College Station, said calf prices have risen in recent weeks due to improving pasture and rangeland conditions and prospects for winter grazing. Local auction prices have been steadily creeping upward over the last six weeks.
“Rain has helped local prices,” he said. “That has created some demand for stockers for winter grazing.”
Cattle continue to move through feedlots, and prices are beginning to hit some seasonal fall increases, Anderson said.
However, beef production continues to be high amid good export and domestic demand, he said. Wholesale choice beef prices are above where they were a year ago even with large production levels and increased amounts of beef in cold storage.
“That is largely due to a lot of beef production, but also booming exports and large imports,” he said. “The more trade and beef movement we have means more beef in stocks because beef in transit has to stay cold. So, lots of cold storage stocks are largely due to lots of beef moving.”
Anderson said cold storage stocks may also reflect herd culling, as producers dealt with hot, dry conditions in late summer.
“They sent a lot of cull cows to market before the rains came,” he said. “There’s seasonal culling that goes on regardless, but what changed was the timing as producers may have culled a typical number of cattle a little earlier because of conditions.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Hay harvesting was going full speed. Cotton harvest just started. Scattered showers brought needed subsurface moisture and some runoff. Pastures were still stressed from recent armyworm infestations. Lots of aphids, armyworms and other moths were still in areas. Livestock were doing OK on rangelands. Producers were scrambling to get hay cut and plowing done for small winter grains. Most counties reported adequate soil moisture. Overall crop, rangeland and pasture conditions were fair in most counties.
ROLLING PLAINS: Weather conditions were pleasant with cooler temperatures and damp mornings. Recent moisture helped tremendously, and the forecast called for more rainfall. Pastures and rangelands looked 100 percent better than prior weeks, and livestock were in good condition. Cattle producers reported increased lice problems. Producers were planting wheat acres and still spraying for armyworms. Cotton producers began preparing for harvest by applying defoliants and desiccants. Irrigated cotton looked fair to good, while dryland cotton was fair to poor.
COASTAL BEND: Showers and wet conditions were still hampering some field work. In drier areas, some field work started back up. There was a small amount of cotton left to be harvested, and stalk destruction was delayed due to heavy soil moisture. First-crop rice harvest resumed. Fall brush control applications were being made as weather allowed. Some producers sprayed for armyworms in hay fields. Livestock were in good condition and enjoying green grass. A good number of cull cows and calves were marketed. Pecan harvest was underway with early yields looking good.
EAST: Rainfall across the district hindered some attempts at a third cutting of hay, and cooler temperatures diminished most hopes of a high-quality third cutting. Gregg County forage growth slowed despite warm temperatures. Jasper County reported a dry week with active hay harvesting, while Houston County experienced a wet week that prevented hay cutting. Polk County received heavy rains that kept soil moisture very high and promoted rapid forage growth of warm-season grasses. Sabine County topsoil was saturated in many bottomland meadows. Topsoil conditions were overall adequate with the exception of Polk County, which reported surplus, and Marion County with short conditions. Subsoil conditions were adequate in all counties except Marion County, which reported short conditions. Marion County grasses were recovering, and some producers were able to cut hay. Some Cherokee County pastures and hay meadows began to recover, but most were dormant. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good in Angelina, Polk, Rusk, Shelby, Houston, Wood, Jasper and San Augustine counties. Pasture and rangeland conditions were poor in Harrison and Marion counties and excellent in Sabine County. Livestock were in fair to good condition throughout the district. Cattle prices in Gregg County were up a little across all classes. Houston and Shelby counties reported cattle prices were holding steady due to wheat fields doing so well. Armyworms continued to plague Cherokee, Gregg, Harrison, Houston, Marion, Smith and Wood counties. Many Cherokee County producers began putting remaining standing forages in as silage rather than surrender them to armyworm infestations. Smith County producers continued to delay planting winter pastures due to armyworms. Wild pig damage was reported in small areas of Gregg county, while Shelby and Wood counties reported large swaths of damage.
SOUTH PLAINS: The district received rainfall ranging from 2-6 inches. Cotton harvest was underway and quite a bit was stripped before the big rains came. Harvest was expected to be fairly slow and strung out since much of the cotton, especially dryland, was planted later due to lack of moisture. Winter wheat continued to mature. Pastures and rangelands continued to improve. Cattle were in good condition.
PANHANDLE: Cooler weather, with near-normal temperatures for this time of year, was reported. Some moisture was received late in the reporting period. Armstrong County reported cold fronts were expected to deliver more moisture. Despite light rains, wildfire chances were increasing in some areas. So far not many producers were reducing herd sizes. Briscoe County reported cooler weather was great for crops and cattle. Rain was expected to help wheat production but may cause problems with cotton harvest. Deaf Smith County producers were working on corn harvest and preparing for cotton harvest. Early corn plantings were harvested and producing average yields. The cotton crop was looking good to excellent, and many producers were applying harvest aides. Winter wheat plantings were ongoing with some dryland fields being replanted due to poor stands while other areas reported good emergence and excellent stands. Irrigated wheat looked good with some producers already applying water to get some early grazing. Cotton and peanuts in Hall County were ready to harvest and looked good. Ochiltree County corn, soybean and sorghum harvest continued.
NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranged from adequate to surplus across the counties. Most areas received a trace to 3 inches of rain. Daytime temperatures ranged from the mid to high 80s. Hay harvest continued. Pastures were looking good, and some farmers were planting wheat and oats before the rains hit again. Cotton was being harvested as the soil moisture permitted. Armyworms continued to be a problem in hay and wheat fields, and some farmers were spraying. Feral hogs were not as mobile. Livestock were doing well, and calves were starting to be weaned.
FAR WEST: Temperatures averaged highs in the lower 90s and lows in the low 60s. Rainfall averaged a trace to 4 inches. Cooler temperatures continued along with heavy cloud cover. Cotton defoliation was in progress. Producers were moving into winter wheat production, and moisture levels should allow for good planting conditions and stand establishment. Mosquito problems were persisting. Weed and grass management around structures to protect from fire was advised as fall progresses. Some producers had issues trying to harvest hay. Producers were treating for parasites. Many pecan farmers were irrigating for the last time. Alfalfa farmers were expected to get one last cutting and possibly a clipping. Cotton irrigation ceased, while pecans received one last water as harvest of early pecans neared. Producers continued to feed livestock and wildlife.
WEST CENTRAL: The reporting period was warm and dry early with heavy rains late. Cotton fields were in fair condition and a few weeks from harvest. Winter wheat was in good condition, with producers planting between rains. Rain were expected to stall planting efforts in some areas. Isolated armyworm outbreaks were occurring, and producers were treating where necessary. Rangelands and pastures were in good to excellent condition. Some producers were getting a final cutting of hay. The demand for cattle continued to be good on all classes of calves and yearlings. Stocker steers and heifers and feeder steers and heifers all sold steady after increases the last several weeks. Packer cows sold $3 lower, and packer bulls were $2 lower.
SOUTHEAST: Moisture availability was good. Excessive rainfall was received on some plantings. Livestock were in good condition. Cotton was being picked now, but quality had decreased in both lint and seed. Armyworm activity slowed and was localized. Pastures and hay fields were growing well due to favorable field conditions. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely, from poor to excellent with good ratings being most common. Soil-moisture levels ranged from adequate to surplus with adequate being most common.
SOUTHWEST: Pop-up showers were common, along with some isolated downpours. Soil moisture remained very high, and rangelands and pastures were in excellent condition. Armyworms were still causing problems. Livestock conditions began to show improvement. Planting for winter wheat and oats was delayed due to soggy conditions. Harvested hay was having a difficult time curing properly.
SOUTH: Most parts of the district reported hit-and-miss rains totaling 1-3 inches with adequate soil moisture in most areas and mild temperatures. Some eastern parts of the district reported surplus moisture, while some southern parts reported short moisture levels. Producers reported good overall growing conditions. Producers were able to work fields and sunlight was helping peanuts mature. Peanut harvest should begin soon. Grasses were growing, and hay was harvested. A dry week allowed cotton harvest to resume. Some producers reported a second round of defoliants was required due to heavy rains. Defoliation on cotton fields was wrapping up, and harvest should end soon. Wheat and oat planting started. Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to improve with increased soil moisture levels. Forage quality and quantity improved grazing conditions. Body condition scores on cattle were improving with most herds in good condition. Livestock supplementation decreased as recent rainfall provided an abundance of grass. Some producers were baling hay and preparing for buffel grass seed harvest. Coastal Bermuda grass was still producing hay bales. Pecan orchards were making arrangements to start harvesting. Some spinach, cabbage, onions and some carrots were planted. Stock tanks were full. A few reports of fall armyworms were received, but populations were minimal as producers remained vigilant. Hidalgo County reported winter vegetable harvest was very active.