While the cattle cycle should be in an expansion phase, it looks like at this point many people are finding themselves with little choice but to downsize. There are many options for dealing with drought conditions. Early weaning, sale, creepfeeding, or feeding hay earlier than normal.
Feeding is becoming less and less of an option. Not only is demand for hay up, but supply is down for the same reasons: drought. Fewer cuttings. A roll of hay that may have sold for $20 may now go for $70-$100. Higher prices are required to bring supply in with demand and that supply might have to come form greater distances or at greater costs than normal. Higher corn prices also make the breakeven price for feeders increase, In other words the price that feedyards are willing to pay is going to be less.
According to a recent article in a local newspaper, weekly cattle sales at the KY-TN livestock market in Guthrie have went from an average of 1500 head to 3000.