Expansion of the nation’s cowherd has slowed dramatically, and combined with drought conditions in the southern Plains and western states, female markets are described as mostly steady. Some regions saw forced sales of cows due to a shortage of feed and water.
Drovers’ nationwide auction summary found a mix of price trends during July, with bred females posting near $300 per head gains and open females selling $40 to $100 per head lower. Bred heifers sold at $1,342 per head, up $292 per head. Young- and middle-aged bred cows declined $35 per head and stood at 13% lower than last year. Aged, bred cows improved $64 per head to $836, a 15% decline from last year.
Prices for pairs were all lower during July. Cows with small calves dropped $70 per pair, and cows with large calves declined $73 per pair. Aged cows with calves declined $21 per set. Utility and commercial cows sold 98¢ per cwt higher, while canner and cutter cows sold $1.46 lower.
Weather and forage conditions over the next several weeks could have a major impact on female prices this fall. Drought-forced culling could send more cows to market, significantly depressing prices at a time when beef production is already expected to increase.