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Drought Weighing on Summer Cattle Markets
Mondays, Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, offers his economic analysis of the beef cattle industry. This analysis is a part of the weekly series known as the "Cow Calf Corner" published electronically by Dr. Peel and Mark Johnson. Today, Dr. Peel talks about how the cattle markets have been impacted by the drought.

Drought advanced rapidly across Oklahoma in July. At the end of June, the Drought Monitor showed that 30.76 percent of the state was in some stage of drought (D1-D4) with another 15.15 percent abnormally dry (D0). Four weeks later, the July 26 Drought Monitor map showed that 100 percent of the state was dry with 99.81 percent in some stage of drought. In fact, 92.11 percent of the state was Severe drought (D2) or worse. The northern one-third of Oklahoma received good rains of up to three inches in the last week. This will briefly push back drought conditions in that region, but triple digit temperatures are forecast to return in August and little follow-up rain is in the forecast as far as forecasts reach into the first half of August. Cattle producers will continue to face tough decisions in the coming weeks.

Rapidly advancing drought conditions in July pushed Oklahoma auction volumes higher as more cows were culled and increased feeder cattle numbers indicated early weaning of calves and early marketings of summer grazing cattle. Calf prices dropped into July as increased volumes of early weaned calves accelerated seasonal price pressure. Calf prices recovered somewhat the last week of July as cattle markets generally firmed up. Large seasonal supplies of heavy feeder cattle were also likely augmented by drought-forced movement of cattle off summer grazing programs though heavy feeder prices are seasonally higher through the summer.

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KC Sheperd visits with Dakota Moss of Livestock Risk Services. When the pandemic hit in 2020 the cattle markets along with the rest of the world suffered. Many farmers and ranchers altered their marketing plans on crops and livestock to try and prevent a loss in the down Covid markets. This led to cattle being held months longer than planned hoping for a better market. Unfortunately for many farmers and ranchers they had no choice but to sell much heavier cattle into a down market. Resulting in a lower $/cwt price and profits lost. Sheperd and Moss discuss some alternative options for producers with the Livestock Risk Protection program.

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