Feeder calf prices start strong
Superior Livestock Auction’s (Superior) Corn Belt Classic video sale, hosted live from South Sioux City, Neb. June 7-8, offered the cattle industry a first glimpse into this year’s fall calf market, and it was anything but disappointing.
The annual sale marked the first large feeder calf sale of the year, consigning over 65,000 head, which sold at prices exponentially higher than in years past.
“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,” commented DTN Livestock Analyst ShayLe Stewart in a June 12 Progressive Farmer article.
2023 Corn Belt Classic
According to Superior’s sale results, four-weight feeder steers across all regions brought around $311 per hundredweight (cwt) on average, while five weights brought nearly $280, six weights brought $261, seven weights brought $248, eight weights brought $236 and nine weights brought a little over $221.
Four-weight heifers from across all regions, on average, brought a little less than $263 per cwt, five weights brought $254, six weights brought a little more than $240, seven weights brought $224, eight weights brought $218 and nine weights brought $207.
Feeder steers of all weights across regions three through six set record high prices, fetching $8 to $15 per cwt higher than they did at Superior’s previous auctions.
Steers from region three – Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana – across all weight divisions brought $84 to $91 per cwt more than they did during the 2022 Corn Belt Classic Sale.
“Regions three through six weaned calves moved at levels $15 to $25 higher than our auction two weeks ago as drought areas continue to shrink grazing demand grows along with lower costs of feed,” reads a Superior press release, published after the 2023 sale.
Steers of all weight divisions from Region two – Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah – brought $59 to $76 per cwt more than they did at the same time a year ago.
“Region one and two calves on cows were $50 to $70 higher than this time last year,” notes Superior.
“Heifers also shared in a strong market, moving at $10 to $20 higher. Program steers and heifers were also in strong demand with $20 to $25 higher, and beef and dairy crosses were well received by a wide base of buyers at levels $12 to $18 higher,” Superior continues.
A promising future
While the Corn Belt Classic doesn’t encompass the entirety of future feeder calf prices or mark its peak, it does help producers, buyers and sellers understand the current market and give them an indication of what to expect in the future.
“This week’s sale benefited from longer-term optimism in the markets regarding tighter supplies, better weather conditions and expansion taking more numbers out of the feeder cattle and calf supply availability. In addition, the markets are also projecting cost of gain relief for cattle feeders,” states a recent CattleFax article.
“There simply aren’t enough feeder cattle in today’s market to keep up with demand,” shares Stewart. “Between the U.S. cow herd being culled to historically low levels because of prolonged drought and a lack of profitability, to the brutal storms this late winter and early spring which put a big dent in producers’ calf crops, feeder cattle prices will soar as buyers fear they won’t get their orders filled.”
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.