Stronger fed cattle prices and futures price opportunities continued to help buoy calf and feeder cattle demand this week.

Steers and heifers sold mostly steady to $5 per cwt higher, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

“Demand for weaned calves and yearlings this time of year is always good to very good, and this year is no exception,” AMS analysts say. “Feedyards are looking to take the least health risk on cattle this time of year as temperature swings in one week can range more than 50 degrees and wreak havoc on compromised immune systems. The steep un-weaned calf discounts haven’t reared their ugly head yet; when November gets here, the disparity in price will be noticeable.”

“Demand for calves weighing less than 435 pounds was very good as many buyers were looking for offerings to send to wheat pastures,” said the AMS reporter on hand for Wednesday’s weekly auction at Miles City Livestock Commission in Montana. “CME positions finished higher again today adding more support to all calves. Demand for calves weighing over 600 pounds was good to very good as buyers hope to finish these calves alongside yearlings and take advantage of the April board.”

Speaking of wheat pasture, planting continues to lag behind hope in key states. According to the most recent USDA Crop Progress report, 48% of winter wheat is planted, which is 9% less than last year and 10% less than average. Only 27% is planted in Kansas compared to 59% for average. Likewise, 42% is planted in Oklahoma, which is 20% behind the average pace. Planting in Texas, however, is 2% ahead of the average at 54%.

Other than marginal gains at either end of the board, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.17 lower week to week on Friday (65¢ to $1.50 lower).

In his weekly market comments, Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee notes that calf and feeder cattle prices are so far stronger than many expected. Among the reasons he cites: exemplary international demand for U.S. beef, robust domestic demand and low feed costs

Listen to Wes Ishmael’s Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.