In addition to weaning, preg-checking and harvest, fall is a busy time for cattle sales. I’ve been to a few sales in the last couple of weeks, and it has been interesting to be in the stands and take notes on the highs and lows of these sales.
At the sales I've attended this fall, I’ve seen bred heifers  sell anywhere from the going market price to more than $10,000. Commercial cows have been selling for top dollar, and even matching the price levels of some purebred seedstock. It makes me think that folks are definitely thinking expansion .
I'm in the buying market myself this year as my family is looking to expand our cowherd. A couple of factors we're watching in our area of South Dakota are how the cattle losses suffered by some ranchers in early October's winter storm Atlas  will impact the price of bred heifers, and whether cheaper feed prices will encourage more livestock producers to hang on to their cattle.
From what I can gather, prices are following the same trend we have seen in the last couple of years as cow numbers declined across the country. However, I think that an increase in herd  dispersals due to aging ranchers exiting the business provides an opportunity for some young producers  to snatch up some great breeding stock - if they are so inclined and have access to the required capital. The latter one can be a huge hurdle in today's ag economy.
There are certainly a lot of factors that go into predicting the cost of bred females, and I speculate that prices might be a little softer this winter. Of course, I’m no expert; I’m just basing this prediction from what I’ve seen so far. Think of this blog post as just coffee talk.
Help me out in this discussion. What are the prices of bred heifers in your neck of the woods? What are the factors in your area impacting those prices? What are your predictions for bred heifer and cow  prices going into the winter? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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