Strong fed markets in May likely pulled some cattle forward while others may get pushed into July thereby smoothing out the June peak. June marketings will increase and fed prices will likely drop back but perhaps with less pressure than earlier anticipated.

The June Cattle on Feed report showed May marketings down 4 percent but, with one less business day this year, daily average marketings were equal to one year ago. May placements were down 7 percent, as expected, leading to a June 1 on-feed total down 2 percent from last year.  

Placements of cattle under 700 pounds was actually up nearly 3 percent compared to last year (including a 10 percent increase in placements under 600 pounds). At the same time, placements of cattle over 700 pounds were down 12 percent indicating that feedlot supplies will tighten significantly into the fourth quarter of the year.

May feedlot placements were heavily oriented to the Southern Plains with year-over-year increases in Texas and Kansas placements while Nebraska and Iowa placements were sharply lower than last year. This brings the June 1 Texas feedlot inventory above the Nebraska total for the first time since January.

More rain fell across most of western Oklahoma this past weekend continuing a steady pattern of rain since Memorial Day. Most all of Oklahoma has had rain with totals ranging from about 3 inches to over 10 inches in some locations. Much of the state has received more than 100 percent of normal rainfall in the past 30 days which begins to whittle away at the rainfall deficit from earlier in the year.  


The lack of deep moisture means that drought conditions still exist and could redevelop rather quickly if rainfall is interrupted. Summer heat and wind will make it difficult to recharge subsoil moisture. Meanwhile, forage has responded dramatically to recent moisture and current conditions are better than indicated by the drought map. Though starting late, enough pasture and hay production is underway to meet summer needs in most cases. 

Feeder prices in Oklahoma have continued to edge higher but may be near a peak. In this last week’s Oklahoma seven-market average, all medium and large, number one steers less than 850 pounds were priced at over $200 per hundredweight (cwt). The value of added weight gain on feeder cattle has increased in recent weeks as heavy feeder prices have increased more than lightweight feeder prices.

Cull cow prices have remained strong as well with no seasonal decrease yet. Average dressing boning cow prices were $110.50 per cwt this past week. Prices for bred cows continue to strengthen with young to middle-age bred cows trading mostly in a range from $1500 to $2300 per head, depending on quality.  end mark

– Derrell Peel is an extension marketing livestock specialist with Oklahoma State University. This originally appeared in the OSU Cow/Calf Newsletter.