From Our Side
of the Fence
For me, April 1 is always the goal for the start of spring calf turnout. Many of you have heard the optimism in me start saying, “60 days to grass,” sometime in January. Ironically this year it looks like as of today, we’re less than 30 days till grass here in mid Missouri.
Signs of an early spring are all around us. Buzzards, robins, cardinals are seen with some frequency, and although they are unseen, sure signs of mole activity have sprung up in my yard already. My fruit trees budding. The daffodils on the east side of my house are 5 inches tall, and all the bulb plants are right behind them. As I look to the east, I see the pastures starting to green up.
I’m pretty well convinced we will have an early spring, but that is balanced with cautious pessimism that we will have some type of late April snowstorm or freeze. Does anyone remember the 10-foot snow drifts from 50 years ago on April 9? I sure will be glad when May 1 gets here so I can worry about something else completely out of my control.
If no one has told you, our cattle business is on fire and picking up momentum! The fat cattle market is the engine pulling the beef train and it has been marching higher to levels not seen since the all time highs from 2014. As I remember, the all-time high fat cattle market in 2014 was $1.72. Last week, Don Mudd’s fats topped out at $173 in our local auction.
Right behind the fed cattle locomotive is the feeder steers and heifers. Most groups of 700 pound steers now have been priced at $1.90 or above with many hitting $2.00 per pound. The calves come next with good 400 pounders all bringing $2.35 on the way to – dare I say $3.00? I truly believe on the right set of cattle it could happen. We have some aggressive buyers on Fridays that would maybe give that much if we only had somebody to push that hard.
The caboose of the cattle train is bred cows and bred heifers. Prices are rising but not yet keeping up with feeders and calves and their accelerating price structure. As soon as feed becomes more plentiful, demand for cows in herd replacements will rapidly increase. If you have the ability to buy cattle now and increase your inventory, it looks to me like (assuming no black swan events) we’re good for at least two years and maybe more. We’ve waited for years for the market to turn around and get to this point. So, don’t let fear and worry steal your joy.
I received several calls in the last two or three months from customers asking what should they do? Sell now? Make them bigger? Currently the only mistake is not to have an inventory as we ride this wave higher. My personal opinion is that big cattle make a big check. I would not get lured by high prices into selling light calves too early or before they are properly preconditioned.
If you have the resources to gain your cattle at a reasonable cost, right now I do not see any reason why we shouldn’t make them bigger. I think the next market to look at especially for fall calves would be late June early July. Of course, that could change with weather anomalies or Geo-political events. There’s no wrong choice for a short while –– enjoy the cattle business while we can.
One upcoming sale I would like to mention is this week which will be March 10. After many years of mutually beneficial business together, Barb Brouster is heading into retirement. At the March 10 auction, she will be selling 360 yearling steers. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Barb for many years of business.
OK, here’s a little bit about me personally so there’s no erroneous stories. Long story short; after my shoulder surgery, apparently there is some nerve damage that has paralyzed the left half of my diaphragm. Because of this, my lower left lung has collapsed which obviously cuts back on my air whenever I try and do much. I’ve known for several months something wasn’t right. I just couldn’t figure out what wasn’t right. My fear, and thoughts were there was something terribly wrong with my heart.
Two points of good news. I’ve been officially diagnosed with a very good heart. Secondly although I’m now basically a “lunger,” Kelly (sometimes referred to as Nurse Ratchet) has promised that as long as I’m compliant she will not shoot me and drag me off to the bone ditch where most of the chronic lungers end up.
I’m going to miss a week to recuperate after a short hospital stay. With the cattle market this good, and exciting to be a part of, I have every intention on being back for the second Friday sale.That’s all for this month, I’ll see you at the auction!