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Economist watching calf marketing trends

Economist watching calf marketing trends

Calves in group

Analysts are watching trends in calf marketing to see what impacts it might have for cattle markets. University of Tennessee ag economist Andrew Griffith says the spring calf crop is hitting the market.

“It has been stated the fall calf run is in full swing as cow-calf producers across the country are busy marketing the spring calf crop,” he says. “The proof of this statement is in the national feeder and stocker cattle receipts.”

Griffith says he looks to a few different indications to see trends in calf marketing.

“There are two primary indicators of the spring calf crop coming to market,” he says. “Those indicators are a sharp rise in the number of cattle moving through auctions and an increase in the percentage of cattle being marketed weighing less than 600 pounds. The fall calf run started the last couple of weeks in September, but the movement accelerated in October.”

Weekly auction receipts are showing calf marketings approaching their highest levels of the year.

“Weekly receipts through auctions in October exceeded 200,000 head, which is not the highest weekly totals for the year but near the top,” Griffith says. “However, if one couples those weekly totals with the fact that about 60% of those receipts were for cattle weighing less than 600 pounds, then it is clear calves are being weaned at a rapid pace. This pace is expected to slow by late November, but there will continue to be a large quantity of lighter animals moving through auction markets.”

Of course, there are factors beyond seasonal marketing cycles affecting cattle sold, such as ongoing drought conditions in many cattle-producing areas.

“Another factor to consider as it relates to fall calf marketing is that severe drought conditions across the country will have likely resulted in some calves being marketed earlier than normal,” Griffith says. “This means the market may not see many weeks of auction cattle receipts exceeding 300,000 head.”

He says both buyers and sellers should consider the current conditions and factors at play before making their decisions.

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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