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Sale Barn Study | February 2024

Slow and Steady Comeback

contributed article by Kirk Lynch

Lynch Livestock Inc. and Humeston Livestock Exchange, Humeston, Iowa

Well, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. It really seems longer than a month ago we were opening presents and bringing in a new year, as winter came right after all of us with a couple of haymakers the first few weeks of 2024. Mother Nature created a difficult and challenging January 2024 for us beef producers and that has had an effect on our markets as well.

Overall, we have seen a slow and steady comeback from the drastic and dramatic market collapse we experienced in late fall. I am not sure we will make it back to where we were, as consumer demand has certainly plateaued with the high prices in the meat case. With that said, we are still seeing impressive prices for all types and grades of cattle as there just isn’t the numbers out there and we are looking pretty solid for the next couple of years.

On the fat cattle side, we have been seeing most of the top end cattle bringing in the mid 70’s with some extreme tops hitting the low 80’s. As the winter storms and cold temperatures have hit, it will definitely affect the ADG of cattle and keep the marketing weights in check for the short term. I think we will see a slow and steady climb at least until late spring but not sure we will see that $1.90 to $2.00 we were hoping for last fall.

Feeder cattle have sure been a roller coaster. Overall, I will say the market is $10 to $20 better than it was a month ago as the markets stabilized, and we have seen the cost of feedstuffs go down. On the other hand, we have seen several sales postponed due to weather and some producers being very hesitant to fill lots with the weather that we have had.

The cull cow and bull market has seen a nice rebound as well. Seeing some bulls get as high as the mid-$1.30’s, with the bulk bringing $1.20-plus, and the good high yielding cows bringing up to $1.15, with most cows bringing close to that $1.00 range.

The breeding stock market has been lagging behind the rest of the markets as there just seems that there are more people wanting to sell bred heifers and cows than there are people wanting to buy them. I think this is mainly driven by the weather conditions and the high price of hay across most of the country.

With that said, we have seen bred heifers, and some younger cows bring anywhere in the $2,000 to $3,000 range and most running aged to older cows bringing in the mid to upper teens. Depending on your situation as far as feed and labor there seems to be several opportunities to invest in these things as they will pay for themselves over the next couple years.

Here is to hoping for warmer days and wishing everyone a happy and successful calving season!

Kirk Lynch, Lynch Livestock Inc., Waucoma, Iowa

Kirk is the Beef Division manager for Lynch Livestock Inc. and oversees all aspects of their backgrounding and cattle feeding operations throughout Iowa and Kan. He is also deeply involved in the newly re-opened Humeston Livestock Exchange in Humeston, Iowa. In addition, Kirk and his wife Mary own and operate Heartland Simmentals in Northeast Iowa, which is a seedstock operation that consists of 500 registered Simmental and Angus cows. They have four children: Gabrielle (9), Brayden (8), Vivian (6), and Bianca (2).

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