Market swings stay at the forefront

What an interesting business we are in. The first week of this year our feeder market was good. Then by the second week futures had fallen about $6 per hundredweight causing feeder cattle to be cheaper. Then by the third week futures had rebounded and we had a very aggressive market last week.

Cattlemen will often call and say, “Do you think the market will be just as good next week?” And I have to give my normal response—“I don’t know.” Sometimes our markets change and there seems to be a logical reason and then other times it simply seems to be controlled by the funds or big boys.

I know this sounds like a broken record but we need a rain or snow, if it would stay on the field and melt there. A lot of cattle are moving early and at lighter weights. Thus if they go in the feedlot at lighter weights they will also be fatter at lighter weights. It may also be a year that the majority of our spring feeder run may be warmed up, with the good condition feeder cattle being a lot more sought for than the others.

There is a fine line of growing feeder cattle on a ration and not getting them too fat. They can have quite a bit of meat and still be desirable.

The difference between April and June on fat cattle is $8.50 per hundredweight with June being cheaper. Then August is $3 per hundredweight cheaper than June. After that, starting with October, we start gaining in price $1 per hundredweight every other month. One customer just told me he brought a string of feeders in for this week’s sale. He said, “They have been eating dirt for two months and I finally gave up on getting a rain.”

The other day I called to get a reservation at a hotel. In booking it, the clerk said, “Just a room for you and your wife?” I said, “No, is that a requirement—I need to get a wife to stay there?” He said, “No, I’ve already had two.” I said, “Aren’t you working on a third?” He said, “Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.”

I said, “Let me give you some advice. A friend of mine had been married twice and divorced both times and they were somewhat bitter divorces.” He said, “Next time I’m just going out and find someone I hate and give them my house.”

Editor’s note: Jerry Nine, Woodward, Oklahoma, is a lifetime cattleman who grew up on his family’s ranch near Slapout, Oklahoma.