Montana Weekly Auction, Hay and Drought Report for Week Ending September 16th


Market: Billings Livestock Commission, MT

Market: Public Auction Yards – Cattle, MT

Receipts: 3,012    Last Week: 1,892    Last Year 3,767

Compared to last week: Feeder cattle were too lightly tested this week to develop any market trend. Feeder cattle quality was mostly average on steers and average to attractive on heifers with a few tested open replacement quality heifers of very attractive quality. Yearlings offered mostly average weigh up conditions this week and light flesh as most offerings were coming straight off grass. Buyers remain cautious this week as they bid on offerings.

CME positions moved sideways throughout the week providing no real direction for feeder cattle buyers. Spring born feeder calves sold with mostly light demand this week. Quality on calves was average to attractive with several higher quality small packages on offer. With very few calves on offer and unpredictable weather conditions possible in the upcoming weeks, buyers seemed willing to pass on un-weaned calves coming straight off the cow, which made up the majority of sales this week. CME positions traded unevenly throughout the week, however prices were improved compared to last Thursday’s close. The September contract closed at 133.975, the October at 131.70 and the November contract closed at 129.325; 2.375, 3.20, and 3.05 higher respectively. The CME feeder cattle index settled Thursday at 133.49. Market activity this week was slow to moderate. Weigh up cows sold on mostly light demand throughout the week on mostly light offerings. Demand for slaughter cows was stronger earlier in the week, however as the week progressed prices declined sharply. Slaughter cows sold steady to 5.00 lower, with instances of lower sales at times. Feeding cow buyers were mostly inactive this week. Feeding cows sold sharply lower as a result.

Several load lot packages of higher quality feeding type cows were on offer this week and despite their age buyers bid aggressively for these offerings. Packer buyers pushed one load of 8-12 year old aged high yielding cows to 68.00 before letting them go to a feeder. Weigh up conditions for cows were mostly average to below average this week, much like last week. Slaughter bulls can’t be trended due to the lack of the Miles City market this week. Quality this week was average to below average, with many full, cull bulls on offer. Offerings this week consisted of 62 feeder cattle, 14 percent slaughter cows, 7 percent slaughter bulls, 16 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: 153,000 (Auctions)   36,000 (Direct)   88,500 (Video/Internet) Total: 277,800

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

Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers sold mostly steady to 3.00 higher, with instances 5.00-7.00 higher. Most advances were posted late in the week for feeders as cattle futures saw triple digit gains. Steer and heifer calves traded steady to 3.00 lower. Receipts increased as your sale barns were back on schedule after the holiday break. There was optimism as the CME live and feeder cattle futures had a three day rally, with live cattle closing on Friday at 107.87, up 92 points and feeder cattle at 133.25, up 1.55 on the October contract. A number of producers were cautious and stayed on the sidelines to see how the market would react after last week’s losses.

Some of the highest cattle in the country sold on Wednesday at the St Joseph Stockyards with a string of steers weighing 746 lbs selling at 154.25 and a part load weighing 760 lbs selling at 153.25. In Ogallala, NE on Thursday a consignment of 811 lb yearling steers brought 150.50. In the slaughter cattle arena the mood among producers was subdued as they proceeded with caution, given tough state of the market the past few weeks. Trade broke early Friday morning with talks of 170.00 dressed bids. As the morning and afternoon went on the trade developed into something feeders could smile about. In the southern plains live sales sold 5.00 higher at 110.00. In the Northern Plains live sales sold 3.00- 5.00 higher from 108.00-110.00. Dressed sales sold 4.00 higher 170.00. Packers have been very diligent in staying current to avoid backing into a corner. Some are hoping for higher money next week as some are holding onto a few pens just to test the market despite very good buyer inquiry.

Cool temperatures moved in across the Plains and Midwest making it feel more like fall. However, temperatures are expected to warm up in the 80’s. Such swings in temperature is always a concern, as it may make calves sick. Heavy rain also fell early on dumping anywhere from a few inches up to 11 inches, curtailing receipts in the affected regions. More moisture is expected throughout the weekend causing more havoc in saturated areas. Farmers in the southern Midwest have gotten an early start on the corn harvest, however, were delayed due to moisture. With the new crop season here, farmer feeders will begin to concentrate more on harvesting corn and soybeans. Auction volume this week included 44 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 41 percent heifers.

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


Compared to last week: Alfalfa hay sold fully steady this week. Demand and offerings were mostly moderate. Recent rains have helped improve range and pasture conditions across much of the southern half of the state. The worry of having to feed hay has subsided some as a result. Ranchers are continually buying hay for winter needs, however a large portion of ranchers have yet to purchase hay as many seem to be waiting to sell their calves and for prices to moderate some. Hay movement this week was light to moderate. Dairy hay sales continue to be light. Dairies continue to look for high testing hay, however this is in very light supply. Dairy hay sold this week was on the lower end of the dairy quality spectrum with most sales tested in the 155-180 RFV range and prices from 120.00-135.00. Grass hay sold fully steady this week as well. Demand was moderate to good this week as ranchers continue to buy for winter needs. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB unless otherwise noted.

  • Alfalfa:
    • Supreme: Small Squares, 200.00
    • Premium: Large Squares, 120.00 long haul
    • Good: Large Squares, 120.00-135.00; Large rounds, 125.00-135.00; Small Squares 140.00-180.00
    • 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, 210.00-240.00; Large Rounds, 120.00-125.00
    • Good: Large Rounds, 110.00-120.00
  • Barley Straw:
    • Large Squares, 35.00-40.00
    • Small Squares, 50.00

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

Drought Monitor Update | Week Ending September 16, 2016

Montana continues to see mostly dry conditions across the state with five counties in the south central and south east parts of the state seeing severe drought conditions. In severe drought areas local officials should have local drought planning efforts underway or should reconvene the local drought committee at the earliest opportunity. For more information and a list of resources available please click here.