High beef prices have ranchers selling early
MANDAN, N.D. -- There were 3,000 cattle sold at Kist Livestock in Mandan this week. Only 1,800 were on the auction block this time last year. High cattle prices have ranchers selling earlier than usual. "It's just started," said Matt Lachenmeier,...
MANDAN, N.D. -- There were 3,000 cattle sold at Kist Livestock in Mandan this week. Only 1,800 were on the auction block this time last year.
High cattle prices have ranchers selling earlier than usual.
“It’s just started,” said Matt Lachenmeier, a fieldman at Kist.
Lachenmeier said as futures are liquidated, ranchers are nervous prices will begin to drop if they do not take advantage of the moment now. He said people are moving up their sales by a week, sometimes two.
This time last year, there was heavy snowfall in South Dakota. Lachenmeier said usually ranchers hold on to their cattle until the weather turns before bringing them to town to be sold.
This year, the calf crop has been rolling in for a couple weeks now. Most are new calves, born earlier this year. Some are yearlings. Lachenmeier said most of the bred cows will be sold in November.
The reason for the rush to the sale pen is calves are being sold for $400 to $600 more than they were last year, Lachenmeier said.
Lachenmeier said sometimes the market will dip when a lot of calves are sold at the same time but he remains optimistic.
“I think this price is going to be our home for a while,” he said.
Lachenmeier said with the low cost of corn, there is profit to be made feeding them to get them to a higher weight. Those people who buy cattle to feed are buying now to avoid potentially paying a higher price later.
Lachenmeier also said ranchers aren’t losing money by selling the calves right away rather than keeping them longer to increase their weight. He said the lighter calves are actually in high demand.
A 530-pound calf has been selling for about $3 per pound, Lachenmeier said. This week, a group of 504-pound calves went for $3.26 per pound despite being 25 pounds lighter than average.
“Even if they are a little light they (ranchers) aren’t sacrificing anything,” he said.
High calf prices now likely will spur better sales for cows later in the year because most ranchers tend to invest the money they make back into new stock.
Lachenmeier said the few cows Kist has sold have gone for $2,500 to $5,000. Last year the price was between $1,600 and $1,800.