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High beef prices have ranchers selling early

MANDAN, N.D. -- There were 3,000 cattle sold at Kist Livestock in Mandan, N.D., this week. Only 1,800 were on the auction block this time last year. High cattle prices have ranchers selling earlier than usual. "It's just started," said Matt Lache...

MANDAN, N.D. -- There were 3,000 cattle sold at Kist Livestock in Mandan, N.D., this week. Only 1,800 were on the auction block this time last year.

High cattle prices have ranchers selling earlier than usual.

"It's just started," said Matt Lachenmeier, a fieldman at Kist.

Lachenmeier said as futures are liquidated, ranchers are nervous prices will begin to drop if they do not take advantage of the moment now.

The reason for the rush to the sale pen is that calves are being sold for $400 to $600 more than they were last year, Lachenmeier said.

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Lachenmeier said sometimes the market will dip when a lot of calves are sold at the same time but he remains optimistic.

"I think this price is going to be our home for a while," he said.

With the low cost of corn, there is profit to be made feeding them to get them to a higher weight. Those people who buy cattle to feed are buying now to avoid paying a higher price later.

Lachenmeier said ranchers are not losing money by selling the calves now rather than keeping them longer to increase their weight. He said the lighter calves are actually in high demand.

A 530-pound calf has been selling for about $3 per pound, Lachenmeier said. This week, a group of 500-pound calves went for $3.26 per pound despite being 25 pounds lighter than average.

"Even if they are a little light, they (ranchers) aren't sacrificing anything," he said.

High calf prices now likely will spur better sales for cows later in the year because most ranchers tend to invest the money they make back into new stock.

Lachenmeier said the few cows Kist has sold have gone for $2,500 to $5,000. Last year the price was between $1,600 and $1,800.

Related Topics: CATTLELIVESTOCK
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