Cattle prices are looking good for 2013
Herreid Livestock Market Co-Manager Joe Vetter said it was a good year to be in the livestock auction business.
“We had good prices, good quality cattle and people were happy. The optimism in the cattle markets has made it easier to run the business,” Vetter said.
Even with the lower cattle numbers nationwide, Vetter was pleased with the numbers in 2012. Herreid Livestock Market sold nearly 135,000 head of cattle in 2012.
Vetter contributes that to much of the pasture that was taken out of grass.
“CRP dwindled, and that was a supply of hay that farmers depended on,” Vetter said.
Another factor was the weather conditions, including the drought down south and the lack of moisture in the area.
“It was very dry here, and for those cattle ranchers raising yearlings on grass over the summer months, they were faced with the high input cost of feed because of the short grass conditions,” he said.
With the drought in the cornbelt and corn prices reaching record highs, Vetter said that caused a snag in the yearling cattle market during the months of August through October, indicating yearlings ran big during that time period.
The cow-calf market remained strong with bred cows and bred heifers selling from $1,500 to $1,800 per head.
“That really was not expected. With an ample feed supply, it would have been $200 a head higher,” Vetter added.
Presently, feeder contract market for fall 2013 hit all new time highs at $163 to $165, and live cattle contract for April 2013 at $137 to $138.
“Those figures should provide for a pretty healthy fat cattle market for spring and summer,” he said.
Slaughter cows are now running at $.75 to $.82 per pound, and Vetter said they will likely hit $.90 to $1 per pound in the next 60 to 90 days.
“There are fewer slaughter cows on the market nationwide. With many of the cow herds culled, only the best cows are left,” Vetter said.
He realizes though that the continued drought and record high corn prices will play a big part in the cattle industry.
Cattle buyer Herman Schumacher from Herreid said 2012 was the strongest cattle market he has seen.
“There were some ups and downs, but this past year, the market was as stable as I have ever seen,” Schumacher said.
Schumacher is looking toward even higher prices in 2013, but also realizes that the lack of moisture could hamper that.
Buyers also look for good prices and for cattle of high quality.
“Here in the Dakotas, we are quality conscious, and we have the highest quality feeder cattle in the nation,” Schumacher said. “The people in the south feel the same about our livestock here.”
A good share of the cattle being sold in Herreid go to Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado.
Cattle buyer Chad Berger from Mandan also believes there is a bright future for the cattle industry.
“We had strong markets during this past year, and I think those will stay good,” Berger said.
“Down south, they love the cattle from here, and they are willing to pay more for them here than they can buy them for in their area,” he said.
Berger said the area is fortunate to have Herreid Livestock Market as many areas do not have a place like it.
“Cattle and buyers come from all over, and it is a big plus for the community,” Berger said.
Brothers Harry and Russ Schumacher raise livestock in the Zeeland area and sold 300 feeder calves at last Friday’s sale.
The Schumachers said that they have been happy with the cattle market prices but noted also that input costs are high.
“With the dry conditions we experienced this summer, our pastures were wiped out. The wells were stressed, and we hauled water fromAugust through late October,” the Schumachers said.
“With the present good weather conditions, the livestock are healthy and are experiencing good weight gain,” the Schumachers said.
Advice for livestock producers provided by those involved in the cattle industry—“ Market the same time as you did last year. The market will take care of you. Look forward to a strong 2013!”