Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Applied Economics

Advisor/Chair:

Dillon Feuz

Abstract

The production of cattle in the United State is a very large business. Production begins at the cow-calf level, where a calf is born and raised to a specific weight. This weight is the weaning weight and averages between 300-600 pounds. The calf is then typically shipped to a feedlot, where it is fed a high corn ration which increases the weight of animal quickly and cost effectively to reach a sufficient slaughter weight. Cattle production takes place primarily in 5 different geographical locations which include the North Central, Southeast, Northern Plains, Southern Plains, and West regions. Due to the relationships between fed cattle prices, feeder cattle prices and feed costs, lighter weight feeder cattle typically sell for a higher price per pound than heavier weight feeder cattle. This decrease in price per pound for heavier feeders is often referred to as a feeder cattle price slide. This study is to determine how price slides have reacted over time and space due to the relative changes in fed and feeder cattle prices and the cost of feed.

Weekly data was obtained from the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) on the auction price for feeder cattle at different weights for both steers and heifers. Weekly data on the futures price of live cattle and corn were also obtained from the LMIC.

To determine if feeder cattle price slides had changed over time, regression analysis was used to evaluate the relationship between feeder cattle prices at varying weights with the price of fed cattle and the price of corn. Two different time periods were used for the same location: the first period was from 1992 to 1996 and the second period was from 2005 to 2015. Price slides were also examined across space. There were five different geographical locations analyzed: Oklahoma, Nebraska, Georgia, Kansas, and Montana. Each region was regressed individually and then compared. Prices slides were calculated as the difference in the regressed feeder cattle price at each weight. A combination of the time and space was used to evaluate changes in the same model.

Results from the regression models returned feeder cattle prices at varying weights for steers and heifers and price slides were calculated from those estimated prices. It was found that price slides are not constant over time and that price slides are geographically specific. In the third objective, it is shown that time and space are both factors in determining price slides for feeder cattle.

The implications of this study are to help cattle producers be more aware of market conditions specific to changes in feeding cost. It is also to make aware that price slides are not constant over time and space and therefore, must be reevaluated on a consistent basis.

Included in

Agribusiness Commons

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