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Watch each Friday for Doug Ferguson's Market Intel blog on Beef Producer.

Cattle buyers doing the sale barn shuffle

Bargain shopping seems to rule the markets right now, as prices shift to meet the crowds.

This week I’d say the market as a whole was mixed. Now some may disagree with that, and rightfully so.

This week it was obvious buyers are hunting for good buys. As a result one market may be lower than last week because a buyer went to a different auction this week, and the auction he did attend was a few dollars higher.

We saw this trend in weigh cows as well. Buyers thought cows were cheap last week and came out this week to buy them, driving the market up. One cross-roads sale barn I go to has three guys that buy cows, and this week there were seven. But the sale I went to the next day only had four buyers, and cows were cheaper there.

When bred cows sold during the offering, there was little interest and they sold for just a $100 more than an open weigh cow.

Compared with weigh cows, pairs were undervalued this week.

Four-weight cattle have no friends, while five- and six-weight cattle are in demand. Seven-weights gained a little this week. Last week I mentioned one could easily sell a six-weight and buy a seven-weight and get paid to take home the extra pounds. This week the extra pounds would cost a few dollars per head more. That’s a cheap cost of gain and the value of the gain picks up greatly for eight-weights.

Last week and this week I saw a fair amount of non-weaned calves in the offerings. These calves are only carrying a slight discount.

In my travels to auctions this week I noticed some cattle have already been turned out on grass. This is a month early for my area. I will not argue this is better than fighting muddy lots. It will be interesting to see how it pans out, and how it affects pasture conditions as the year progresses and in coming years.

Hay prices have declined a bit in recent weeks. The thing is, the flooding shut down some plants that make protein supplements and those products now must be shipped in from several states away. The extra freight has caused the price of those products to go up.

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