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

Markets this week favored lighter calves

Breeding cattle prices landed all over the place, but still showed some strength.

Locally icy weather affected our markets early in the week. Some sales were cancelled and others had a very light run with some buyers deciding to stay home. By midweek the weather was more favorable and the prices reflected that. Regions that weren’t affect by the weather showed what the trend was going to be for the week early on.

As a whole, this week the market added a few dollars to cattle weighing under 600 pounds, and cattle weighing over 600 were steady to $2 lower. This week I noticed some grass calf buyers in the crowd, but they only appeared to be lukewarm to bidding.

Even with the expanding fan base for light calves they still have the highest value of gain. Again this week heifers under 750 pounds had a respectable value of gain. Steers fluctuated a bit. Buyers seem to be backing off 8-weights and are showing more interest in 6-weights. This is something I’ll be keeping an eye on to see if there is a change in relationship as to what is overvalued and/or undervalued.

Lots of female sales this week, with some having dispersions. Again females that are close to calving brought significantly more than those that are due later. The prices below reflect the ones that are close-up.

Heifers bred AI brought $200-$350 more than bull-bred heifers. Size was also a factor. Heifers weighing over 1,050 pounds were more popular among buyers. Nine-weight bred heifers were discounted. An open 9-weight feeder heifer has almost as much value as a 9-weight bred heifer.

Bred cows were interesting, as prices were all over the board. Some were flirting with $2,000, while nobody would bid on others. Prices seemed to divide based on age. A 3- to 5-year-old cow, close to calving, would land between $1,400 and $2,000, and her condition and eye appeal seemed to be a factor. Short-solid and broken-mouth cows brought slaughter value with the exception of some in really good condition bringing $40-$100 more than that. The balance of mature cows fell between $1,000 and $1,300.

I expected to see some optimism in the female market, yet I was surprised to see this much.

TAGS: Beef
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