Cattle Complex Continues Downward Trend

Drought Monitor Update | Week Ending September 09, 2016

During the past week, areas east of the Continental Divide witnesses slightly above normal temperatures. Overall, the West was dry last week with the exception of areas of isolated precipitation in northwestern Washington, eastern Montana, and southeastern New Mexico. Dryness during the past 90 days led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) in southeastern and south-central Idaho. In northwestern Wyoming, an area of Severe Drought (D2) was expanded in the headwater region of the Snake River where baseflow has been well below normal.


Montana Weekly Auction Report | Week Ending September 09, 2016

Market: Billings Livestock Commission, MT

Market: Public Auction Yards – Cattle, MT

Receipts: 1,892    Last Week: 2,482    Last Year: 2,068

Compared to last week: Feeder cattle became more active as the week progressed with dramatically increased offers by the end of the week along with steady to stronger undertones. Demand for feeder cattle also staged a turnaround from last week and improved to moderate to sometimes good at the end of the week. Offerings became more available ranging light to moderate. Rain was noted in parts of the area in the early part of the week which may have hindered some offers while others noted a little earlier start in the fall run on younger cattle than normal. Feeder quality was mostly average. Weigh up conditions were also mostly average. Market activity this week was mostly slow to moderate with improvement not as the week progressed and ended above last week.

Demand on weigh up cows improved as the week progressed to moderate to instances good light to mostly moderate offerings. Slaughter cows were lightly tested with stronger undertones noted at the end of the week. Cow quality was mostly average. Offerings were in mostly small and single head packages. Feeder buyers buyers stepped up to the plate at the end of the week and actively sought cattle resulting in packer buyers causing to stand by the way side and pay at unchanged or higher prices depending on needs to be filled. At the end of the week demand from feeding buyers was moderate to good, the opposite of last week. Packer buyers at the end of the week, meanwhile, were a little more aggressive than last week in order to satisfy needs and were light to moderate ending the week in steady to slightly firmer undertones.

Slaughter bulls were generally average to below quality this week. Prices on slaughter bulls can’t be compared due to no market in Miles City this week, however, undertones were mostly lower. Offerings were moderate to heavy, mostly moderate. Quality this week on bulls was most average to below average. Offerings this week consisted of 69 percent feeder cattle, 11 percent slaughter cows, 10 percent slaughter bulls, 10 percent feeding cows and bulls and cows returning to the country, balance bred cows, heifers, and pairs.

Read more in USDA’s latest Montana Weekly Market Report.


Receipts: 114,800 (Auctions)   23,400 (Direct)   18,400 (Video/Internet) Total: 156,600

Last Week: 133,500 (Auctions) 42,700 (Direct)   174,000 (Video/Internet) Total: 350,200

Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers sold mostly 2.00 to 6.00 lower and calves quoted mostly 6.00 to 15.00 lower. Over the last four weeks, the lower trend in the cattle complex has taken the air out of the sails of most everyone in the industry. The sell-off that has occurred this past month did put the October Live Cattle contracts in double digits for the first time on Tuesday. It appears to the casual chart observer that triple digit gains and/or losses happen every day as the industry is trying to gain a foothold and bring stability to the marketplace.

Even after the loss of a considerable amount of equity in the last six months, there are those who continue to be bullish as Wednesday in St Joseph, MO a half load of steers weighing 704 lbs sold for 153.10 and a half load of 802 lb steers sold at 150.50. Even though one feedyard bought them, there was another pushing to those lofty prices. Today in Burwell, NE a farmer-feeder bought a load of home raised 821 lb steers at 151.50. With the out-front fed cattle contracts hovering around the 104.00- 105.00 levels and December corn futures around 3.40 today, industry watchers were just wondering if those cattle could be backed up far enough to make a profit. Beef and hog packer margins currently are rather good right now as the cattle slaughter last week was reported at 610,000 head; the largest weekly slaughter since June 2014. As time goes on this fall, it is good that packers are making a healthy profit this go-around and critical for producers to continue to move cattle through the pipeline.

Steer dressed weights are 10 lb under a year ago and packers are doing their best to keep fed cattle weights in check by harvesting as many as they can. Early corn yield anecdotes are not as lofty as the latest forecast of 175.1 bpa and corn futures have gained around 15 cents this week. Boxed beef values continue to make new 2016 lows and are following the slide of the live cattle as Choice closed the week at 187.90, down 3.19 from last Friday’s close. Auction volume this week included 60 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 39 percent heifers.

Read more from the USDA’s latest National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary.

Weekly Montana Hay Report | Week Ending September 09, 2016

Compared to last week: Alfalfa hay sold steady again this week. Demand for hay ranged light to good, mostly moderate with some finding buyers just starting to compare prices while others wait for 3rd cutting.  Offerings mostly moderate with a few reluctant to make 3rd cutting as they continue to watch the depressed cattle markets. Meanwhile, some buyers noted offerings from outside of the state at lower trending prices into feeders. Hay movement this week was light to moderate.

Inquiry continued to be noted from dairies for high relative feed content alfalfa, however no sales were reported.  Grass hay movement was moderate to good this week at mostly steady prices. High quality grass hay sold very well this week with horse feed buyers active participants. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB unless otherwise noted.

  • Alfalfa:
    • Supreme: Small Squares, 200.00
    • Good: Large Squares, 120.00-135.00; Large rounds, 125.00-135.00; Small Squares 150.00-180.00
    • Fair: Large Squares, 100.00-120.00; Large Rounds, 100.00-120.00
  • Grass/Alfalfa:
    • Premium: Large Rounds, 150.00; Small Squares 150.00-160.00
    • Good: Large Rounds, 120.00-140.00
    • Fair: Large Rounds, 115-120.00
  • Grass:
    • Premium: Large rounds, 120.00-140.00
    • Good: Large Squares, 110.00-120.00; Large Rounds, 110.00-120.00
    • Fair: Large Rounds, 100.00-105.00
  • Timothy Grass:
    • Premium: Small Squares, 210.00-210.00; Large Rounds, 120.00-125.00
    • Good: Large Rounds, 110.00-120.00
  • Barley Straw:
    • Large Squares, 35.00-40.00

Read more from the USDA’s latest Weekly Montana Hay Report.

About Author

Montana Stockgrowers Association

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit membership organization, has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. Our mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

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