Western Ag Reporter

Comments from the Publisher


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I must say, I have had a fantastic last few days! The Montana State University Bobcats tromped the University of Montana Grizzles 55-21 in the 121st Annual “Brawl of the Wild” and had ESPN’s College Game Day in Bozeman leading up to the game. Then, low and behold, the Dallas Cowboys beat-up the Minnesota Vikings 40-3 on Sunday to cap off a great football weekend.

The other good news I wanted to talk about came about before the football games even got started. The Cattle on Feed report came out last Friday and was very bullish in my opinion. Total cattle on feed, as of November 1, totaled 11.7 million head, 2 percent lower than a year ago and within the pre-report estimated range. Placements were definitely the highlight of the report. Placements in feedlots during October were down a whopping 6 percent as compared to 2021 and 9 percent below the five-year average, at 2.11 million head, and came in below the lowest pre-report range estimates. This is the lowest October placements since they started keeping track in 1996.

Marketings also followed suit and were 1 percent above 2021 levels at 1.8 million head. Speaking of marketings, fed cattle were up again last week as well. Cattle in the north were mainly $1 higher and traded at $153 to $156. The southern cattle were $1 higher as well and sold at $150 to $151.

This is all great news, but there is one thing that has me puzzled/concerned a little bit. Fed cattle have been moving higher at the same time boxed beef is moving lower. Boxed beef was down $2.23 again last week at $254.87. Beef demand continues to be very strong, yet boxes are coming down. I realize this might be good news for consumers, but I can’t really figure out why it is happening.

Slaughter numbers for 2022 continue to be hard to figure out as well. Estimated weekly cattle slaughter numbers last week came in at 674,000 head, down 5,000 head from the same week last year. We have seen this happen many times during the course of this year. Yet, year-to-date slaughter numbers were at 30.053 million head last week, up 1.6 percent for the year. The only thing I can maybe figure out affecting these total slaughter numbers are the number of cows which have gone to slaughter. Feedlots are still pretty full, but as we work our way through the first few months of 2023, I would say we will really start to see market-ready fed cattle supplies get shorter and shorter.

If the majority of this nation can receive ample moisture this winter, spring, and early summer, and producers are able to raise enough feed, combined with the lower overall cattle numbers, things will really break wide open in the cattle markets next year.

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving. Even though we all go through some very trying times in agriculture, we also all have so much to be thankful for. Our military is a big one. The majority of us were able to sit around kitchen tables and enjoy our family over Thanksgiving. I just ask we all take a moment and give thanks for the military members who were not able to be with their families over this holiday. These people, and those before them, are the reason why we have the freedoms we have in this country and continue to fight to protect them.

On a final note this week, the production sales around Reporter Country continue to be amazing. I will be attending sales pretty much every day until mid-December. Make sure you download our free Western Ag Reporter app, so you can get up to the minute sale reports.

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