Increasing beef prices help producers stay positive
By Jennifer Carrico
Excitement filled the barn at the Iowa Beef Expo as the prices for seedstock were higher than they have been in many years, following the entire beef market for good prices.
"Our numbers were down a little, but the average prices were up in every breed," said Mindy Campfield, executive director of the Iowa Beef Expo.
Overall bull averages at the Iowa Beef Expo were over $3,000, with 340 total bulls sold and 306 total heifers averaged over $2,600.
The seedstock producers at the sales had a good attitude, despite the high feed prices. Erle and Renee Driscoll of Walridge Farms, near Williamsburg, Iowa, were awarded the 2011 Iowa Seedstock Producer of the Year award.
The Driscolls have raised Angus cattle on their eastern Iowa farm since 1910, and their family is sure to have seen many ups and downs in prices.
Their main purpose has been to sell bulls to commercial producers. They also feed out cattle so it is important for them to know what is under the hide. They keep growth and performance records to use when selecting replacements.
During this year's Iowa Angus sale, the Driscolls donated a heifer from their farm to be auctioned off to support the scholarship fund for the Iowa Angus youth and to allow them to give back to an organization, which has done so much for their family.
Most of the positive attitudes by the buyers at the Beef Expo stemmed from the prices they are getting when selling their feeder calves and fat cattle.
Fed cattle prices continue to move up, according to University of Missouri agricultural economist Ron Plain.
"The five-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers last week on a live weight basis was $106.99 per hundredweight, up $1.69 from a week earlier," he said. "During the same week last year, slaughter steer prices averaged $88.79 per hundredweight."
Cash bids for feeder cattle around the country last week were steady to $8 higher according to Plain. Oklahoma City auction prices were $3 to $6 higher with price ranges for medium and large frame steers: 400 to 450 pound at $159 to $167.75, 450 to 500 pound at $158 to $164, 500 to 550 pound at $147 to $160, 550 to 600 pound at $138.25 to $147.50, 600 to 650 pound at $135 to $142, 650 to 700 pound at $129.50 to $137, 700 to 750 pound at $127.50 to $132.50, 750 to 800 pound at $126.50 to $130, and 800 to 1,000 pound at $113.75 to $126 per hundredweight.
With a smaller U.S. cow herd in 2011, these prices are expected to continue to be strong for producers in the future.
The total number of cattle on feed at the start of February was up 5.6 percent compared to February 2010.
"The number of cattle on feed has been above the year-earlier level for the last nine months, which is rather remarkable given the high corn prices and the small calf crop of the last two years. The February inventory is the highest on-feed number for any February since 2008," said Plain.
Campfield said the positive attitude flowed over into the tradeshow, and many of the exhibitors were pleased at the number of people who attended the week-long show and their willingness to purchase equipment and other services to improve their operations.
Jennifer Carrico can be reached by phone at 515-833-2120, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2011 Iowa Beef Expo sale averages
Angus--80 bulls averaged $3,534. 35 heifers averaged $3,079.
Charolais--32 bulls averaged $3,078. 32 heifers averaged $2,431.
Chianina--11 bulls averaged $2,191. 13 heifers averaged $2,550.
Gelbvieh--Nine bulls averaged $2,161. 27 heifers averaged $2,378.
Hereford--30 bulls averaged $3,553. 26 heifers averaged $3,449.
Limousin--45 bulls averaged $2,980. 15 heifers averaged $2,477.
Lowline--13 bulls averaged $1,888. 16 heifers averaged $2,309.
Maine-Anjou--20 bulls averaged $1,955. 20 heifers averaged $2,230.
Red Angus--27 bulls averaged $2,557. 27 heifers averaged $3,159.
Salers--12 bulls averaged $2,792. Eight heifers averaged $1,600.
Shorthorn--23 bulls averaged $2,907. 39 heifers averaged $2,310.
Simmental--38 bulls averaged $4,007. 48 heifers averaged $2,983.