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Sale Barn Study | January 2024

Market Declining as New Year Approaches

contributed article by Kirk Lynch

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

Well, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is all settled in for the winter months that we have ahead of us. As far as what we have been seeing in the markets and sale barns, I sure hope we have settled in and start seeing some rebounding in the coming months. It is a universal law that what goes up must come down and that is no different than the cattle markets. I, like many others, just didn’t see it coming down as fast and furious as it has over the past two-plus months.

Fat cattle markets have been on a continuous downward trend since October, seeing cash markets reaching the low to mid 70’s and we might not be done yet. The markets in the sale barns have been all over the board as we have seen fat cattle selling from the 60’s all the way up to some tops hitting the $1.80 market depending on the week. The packers continue to break into the market as they are continually offered a surplus of cattle than they want to process. I think we are settling in towards the low as at some point the overall cattle numbers dictate that we will start to run out of cattle if we keep the marketing weights in line.

Obviously with the sharp decline in fat cattle prices we have seen a drastic hit in the feeder cattle market. Depending on the type and kind of cattle we have seen anywhere from a $20 to $40 a hundred weight lowering of the market. There have been some signs of stability and most cattle still dollar up in that $1,300 to $1,700 range, which at the end of the day is still pretty good.

The breeding stock market has been hit or miss as well. Depending on when and where you are at you can see some younger cows bring in the low $2,000’s and bred heifers selling in the mid to high $2,000’s. With that being said, I have seen several deals where there have been some buys and cows and heifers bringing significantly less than that.

The cull cow and bull market has stayed strong, and I would look for that to get better as we get into the new year as there just will not be as many bulls and cows offered. Seeing some cows up to $1.00 and bulls in that $1.20 range. I would look for them to be strong in the months of January and February.

On a side note, the bottle calf market over the past four months has been ridiculous with calves all the way up to $700. It has dropped slightly over the past month or so but not at the rate of feeder calves as many bottle calves are still bringing well into the $500 to $600 range.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a great 2024!

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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