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A stronger feeder cattle market looming this fall

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

After being on the defensive for much of the first half of 2013, feeder cattle markets are poised to hold stronger in the second half of the year.

Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist, explains good prospects for a big corn crop and corn price relief combined with significantly improved forage conditions are being reflected in stronger feeder cattle prices and opening up more marketing options for cow-calf and stocker producers.

“Oklahoma feeder cattle prices have increased about $20 per hundredweight for all weights since the lows in late May,” he said. “Calf prices are currently about $25 per hundredweight higher than this time last year.”

In 2012, calf prices increased $20 to $22 per hundredweight between August and November. The basis for lightweight feeder cattle continues to be relatively strong compared to feeder cattle futures.

“An average basis and the current feeder cattle futures price would indicate that 500-pound steers in Oklahoma City would be at least $172 per hundredweight in November,” Peel said. “However, the current strong basis suggests the price could be $180 per hundredweight or higher this fall. Both the current cash market and the feeder cattle futures suggest cow-calf producers should expect calf prices to be $10 to $15 per hundredweight higher than last November.”

The recent increase in feeder cattle prices has significantly increased the value of additional weight gain for feeder cattle. The most recent combined Oklahoma auction prices reflect a stocker value of gain between $1.05 and $1.15 per pound for all combinations of beginning weight and gains of 50 to 350 pounds.

“This suggests cow-calf producers have an opportunity to improve calf value even more with preconditioning or retained ownership,” Peel said. “It’s an alternative cow-calf producers should consider relative to available feed resources, management and labor constraints.”

Improved value of gain suggests stocker producers have strong fall and winter grazing opportunities despite higher purchase prices for stocker calves this fall.

“Current moisture conditions have Oklahoma set up for the best fall and winter grazing prospects in several years,” Peel said. “Whether selling weaned calves, retaining raised calves or purchasing stockers, the feeder market is offering generally strong revenue potential for most producers.”

Cattle and calves represent the number one agricultural commodity produced in Oklahoma, accounting for approximately 46 percent of total agricultural cash receipts, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service data.

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