Local markets were a mixed bag compared to (late November). Lighter-weight calf prices have found a spot of weakness as many stocker producers in the Southeast and the Southern Plains have probably made the majority of their fall purchases already. This is not an unexpected decline in prices as it relates to calves.

In actuality, calf prices remained contra seasonally strong for the majority of the fall months, and it appears we are now starting to witness a small decline in calf prices. Calf prices may struggle the next few weeks as we approach the end of the year. Prices will remain strong relative to previous years, and are likely to strengthen after the first of the year with a price surge when green grass begins to return.

Feedlots continue to maintain interest in heavier feeder cattle. A load of 800-pound steers brought $154.25 per hundredweight, which is $1,234 per head while a load of 900 pound steers sold for $151.35 per hundredweight, which is a sales price of $1,362 per head. Many 2 feedlot managers know they will not be able to fill all the pens the next couple of years, but they are willing to enter into a few bidding wars for topnotch feeder cattle that grow and grade well. It is also evident that managers are paying strong prices for good animals even if they are of a lesser quality when compared to the “best.”

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Even though numbers are tight, few feedlot managers have interest in poor-quality calves and prices are indicative of this observation. Market cows continue to defy the odds of making a seasonal price plunge. Prices for market cows have remained strong the entire fall. If prices return to their seasonal trend then market cows may be setting records in May and June of 2014, but we will have to give it some time before we see how the market moves.