Record Feeder Cattle Prices

Feeder cattle prices are at or above record levels across all categories. Today’s chart shows average monthly prices for four steer weight categories in Oklahoma City. Average prices during February 2024 were up approximately 35 percent above year-ago levels and were roughly 60 percent above February 2022 levels. The current prices have met or exceeded the price records previously set during the Fall of 2014.

Cattle supplies have tightened in recent years as cow-culling increased and producers have held back fewer heifers as replacements. Drought conditions, higher input costs, and tight profit margins have been key factors for the decline in inventory. The estimated number of calves produced in 2023 was 33.6 million head which was similar to the 2014 level and down by more than 3 million head since 2018. The number of calves produced in 2024 will very likely be lower again because we are starting the year with fewer beef cows expected to calve. Higher prices are a response to these tighter supplies and should eventually incentivize expansion as producers’ financial situations improve. 

The majority of cattle producers in the U.S. sell their calves in the fall months and the current expectations are for prices to remain strong through 2024. CME feeder cattle futures contracts for the fall months are trading near $2.70 per pound. For reference, the CME feeder cattle contracts have never settled above $2.55. The strong expectations for cattle are leading to attractive risk management opportunities for producers. Whether it is using futures, options, or USDA Livestock Risk Protection (LRP), now is a great time to analyze price risk management tools. 

Maples, Josh. “Record Feeder Cattle Prices.Southern Ag Today 4(11.2). March 12, 2024. Permalink