S. Plains Feeder Steers Up; Counter Last Year

Southern Plains feeder steer prices were moving higher last week, countering last year’s downward trend and exaggerating the 2011-2015 average, despite higher numbers that are ready to come in to the feed yards.

The average weekly price for 700- to 800-pound medium and large No. 1 feeder steers in the third week of September was listed by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service at $157.44 per cwt, up $16.98, or 12.1%, from $140.46 in the same week last year.  However, it was $16.15, or 9.30%, below the previous five-year average of 173.59.

From here on, the Southern Plains feeder steer market has some decisions to make, market analysts indicate.  To keep going higher will widen the gap between this year’s and last year’s markets.  In addition, there are indications that feeder steer prices in other parts of the country are softening as young cattle come in off fading grass pastures and are sent to the feedlots.

An argument might be held that prices are just going back toward the five-year average, but last year’s prices were undercut by abundant supplies of feeder cattle, and supplies this year haven’t declined.




Data from various parts of the country show mixed markets for feeder cattle, but in all cases, weekly prices moved higher the third week of September.  Most areas also show that last week’s price bump may have been an anomaly.

In all cases, the local feeder market has to show its hand soon about whether it will follow last year down or imitate the 2011-2015 average and move generally sideways for the rest of the year.

The general trend of 700- to 800-pound feeder cattle prices in Billings, Mont., for instance, is down, with the trend beginning in early June.  The last three weeks have shown more volatility, but this may have been just a market correction since last year’s prices took a major downturn beginning with the first week of September.

One area that has shown insufficient price support for a rally is South Dakota where weekly average prices for 700- to 800-pound steers made a nearby peak the last week of July at $167.66 per cwt and have fallen back from there.  Last week, the AMS reported these prices at $147.88 and headed lower.

Feeder steer prices in Georgia are working unevenly lower, even though last week’s prices showed a small bump.

In Washington, too, prices took a bump last week, but have been following last year’s trend since mid-July.  From here, prices last year moved lower into mid-October where supplies from seasonally fading pastures began to give out.




No cattle sold Wednesday on the Livestock Exchange video auction.

Three lots sold last Wednesday on the Exchange at $106.50 to $106.75 per cwt, up $1.75 to $2 from the previous week.

Cash trade was reported last week at $104 to $109.50 per cwt on a live basis, mostly $108, up about $2 to $4 from the previous week, and at $170 to $172 on a dressed basis, up $3.50 to $5.

The USDA’s choice cutout Wednesday was down $1.48 per cwt at $195.30, while select was off $3.20 at $189.91.  The choice/select spread widened to $5.39 from $3.67 with 110 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $152.43 per cwt, up $0.11.  This compares with Wednesday’s Sep settlement of $152.40, up $1.82, and the Oct settlement of $152.70, up $2.05.