Cull cow, bull sales down
By Derrell S. Peel
OSU Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
Much of Oklahoma got some rain recently with amounts ranging from less than one-quarter inch to about an inch. The rain was very timely and much appreciated but will not be enough to produce much wheat pasture or rebuild soil moisture. It does, however, buy some time for wheat to hang on until more moisture can perhaps arrive. It is unlikely that this rain produced any runoff to replenish livestock ponds and stock water will continue to be one of the most critical factors for many producers.
Feeder cattle auction totals the past four weeks are about 7 percent below the same period last year. However, last year by late October and November, feeder runs were less than usual for the period because so many calves had been marketed in September and early October. The auction total for the last four weeks is down 16 percent from a more typical run in 2010. In September, auction totals were down about 11 percent from 2010, compared to last year when the September total was up 22 percent from 2010.
The bottom line is that the fall feeder run is rather typical in terms of timing but is down simply because there are fewer calves. Remember that Oklahoma beef cows decreased nearly 15 percent in 2011 and few, if any, were replaced in 2012.
Cull cow and bull sales are also down sharply this fall. Though volumes are following a typical seasonal peak, cull cow sales the last four weeks are down 45 percent from the 2011 drought elevated total and down 33 percent from the more typical 2010 level. Cull cow sales are down proportionately more than the decrease in cow numbers. The decrease in cull cow sales this
fall suggests that producers, having culled deeply last year, are trying to hang onto remaining cows and cull less than normal this year. That may be increasingly difficult to do with limited water and forage availability this winter.
Prices for stocker calves have dropped slightly the last two weeks as wheat pasture demand fizzled, but heavy feeder prices have held pretty steady. A sharp break continues between steers less than 575 pounds and those heavier.
Last week's prices suggest that the value of steer gain from 422 pounds to 574 pounds is $0.59 per pound, given a $32.88 per hundredweight price decrease over the 152-pound weight range. In contrast, a $6.41 per cwt. price drop for steers from 625 to 875 pounds makes the value of gain $1.26 per pound over the 250 pound weight range. The market still favors heavy steers for total gains up to 250 pounds. Cull cow prices have held mostly steady the last month and are currently $73 to $78 per cwt., $8 to $10 per cwt. higher than this time last year.