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Sale Barn Study | March 2024

Solid Cattle Market Heading Into Spring

contributed article by Kirk Lynch

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

As I write this article, we are almost through the month of February and it isn’t the first time that I have asked myself, “Is spring here?” Punxsutawney Phil called for an early spring, but I do not think he even saw this coming. The first couple of times I said it jokingly but wow this past month and a half has been unprecedented and will be remembered for some time to come. The beautiful, mild, and welcoming weather we have been having since the first of January has been excellent for the cattle, and the markets we have seen since then have been equally as pleasant.

We all know that we have cow herd numbers that are as low as they have been for 70 years and with that obviously the feeder cattle supply is going to be tight. Combine that with lower-than-expected corn prices and the mild winter, we are seeing the feeder cattle market take off and it looks like it will be on fire through the spring and more than likely the rest of the year.

Light weight calves have taken off as some people are starting to stash them away for grass.

We have recently seen a slow but gradual improvement in the fat cattle market. Over the past month we have generally seen the cattle going through the sale barn selling higher than what the cash market has been in the country. Recently, we have seen some tops reaching the high 80’s and by the time this article is published I imagine we will be seeing several cattle bringing that.

The weigh up cow and bull market has been equally as strong as well. Most cows brought in the $1.10 to $1.20 range, and we are seeing bulls top in the 40’s. I have been hearing that there are going to be several fed cows coming to town in the near future and there will be some coming in as calving season gets rolling, but I would have to believe that this will still be a strong market carried by the rest of the markets.

I may sound like a broken record but there continues to be some buys in the bred cow sector. We have seen some bred heifers bring up to and over the $3,000 mark, but we have also seen several bring closer to $2,000. There are feeder cattle out there that bring that! Some good, bred cows not bringing much over weigh up price as well.

With that said, I expect the breeding stock market to really pick up as we get closer to spring especially since we have had such a mild winter and people have some excess feed around. We have received more calls about cows in the past two weeks than we have in all fall and winter. Early seedstock sales have been excellent.

Well, I hope I have not jinxed us as I know we have the entire month of March to get through, but I am keeping my fingers crossed we continue with the beautiful weather and keep the markets heading in the right direction. If I did put a jinx on us, I am sure I will hear about it, until next month.

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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