Northern Plains feeder cattle auctions have enjoyed $200+ per cwt prices for calves this fall while the southern tier of the U.S. prices have eased quite a bit lower.

Starting with Montana combined auctions, October and November weekly prices have hovered under and over $200 per cwt for the last 6 weeks or so, and ultimately averaged just below $200 per cwt in October for 500-600 pound steer calves. South Dakota 500-600 pound steers have averaged over $200 per cwt monthly since June of 2022 and were at a relative high point in October, averaging $216 per cwt. November looks like it will post a similar average price point. Lighter weight steers have been commanding well over $200 per cwt for more than a year. Nebraska 500-600 pound steer calves averaged $210 per cwt in October, slightly above September but lower than prices were over the summer. June-August averaged $212 and above per cwt. Similar to South Dakota, Nebraska 300-400 pound steers and 400-500 pound steers have averaged over $200 per cwt on a monthly basis for more than a year.

Missouri Combined Auctions hit a nine month low in October, averaging $192 per cwt for 500-600 pound calves. The average in the three months prior was above $200 per cwt. Colorado auctions hit the second lowest point of the year in October at $185 per cwt. but light weights of 300-400, and 400-500 have maintained averages over $200 per cwt for most of the summer and into fall. Kansas combined auctions averaged $187 per cwt in October, the lowest monthly average since June. November appears to be picking up steam, with the first two weeks creeping back above $190 for 500-600 pounds.

Oklahoma combined auctions averaged under $180 per cwt for 500-600 pound steers for the first time since December 2021. Categories of 300-400 pounds steers averaged below $200 per cwt in October for the first time in 10 months. Texas auctions have been lower than most all year for 500-600 pound steers and have yet to have a month average over $200 per cwt. October hit a four month low at $182 per cwt, but the first two weeks of November have been higher pointing to higher averages to come. Lighter steer calves have seen $200+ prices this year, but 400-500 pound steers have been up and down for the last 10 months. Three hundred to 400 pound calves have consistently had months over $200 per cwt for 12 months.

We expect all auctions will see months and quarters over $200 per cwt next year, as feeder cattle supplies tighten over the coming months. USDA NASS’s January 1 inventory will provide key data for the calf crop and expectations moving forward. It also will give a state by state breakdown, pinpointing regional differences. Cow-calf producers are looking at what is shaping up to be a multi-year rally for calf prices, and as long as those prices can stay ahead of costs it should be some very good years to come for cowcalf operators.

Daily Livestock Report - Steiner Consulting Group