“The dryness has also caused some farmers to early-wean their spring calves and sell them,” said Cole.

Those 300 to 400 pound steer calves are bringing $150 per hundred or $560 per head.  Heifer calves are about $15 to $20 per hundred behind their steer mates at that weight.

“While those prices appear attractive compared to recent years, the market outlook contains optimism for the future,” said Cole. “A quick look at the current feeder steer market shows that adding an extra 100 lbs. should return a nice profit unless you have very high costs of gain.”

For example, in recent weeks the Missouri average 350 pound steer referenced above was worth $560 while the 450 pounder was valued at $670 per head.

As the weight increased from 450 to 550 lbs., from 550 to 650, 650 to 750 and on to 850 lbs. the value for each added 100 lbs. has run from around $120 down to $95 per head.


“When forage is available, along with some supplemental feed, the cost of gain should be low enough to make adding weight up to 750 to 800 pounds profitable,” said Cole. “Efficiency of gain is good on young, thrifty calves so if you wean early, do all you can to give them a chance to put the weight on economically.”

For nutrition and general management tips, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.