Diamond Rings for Old Things

In general, the only old things that have much value are those that are rare and in extremely good condition. For instance, a Rembrandt would be a good example of an old thing that has a lot of value, or a 40 series John Deere tractor would be another! However, slaughter cows would be an example of a fairly common thing that has a strong value in today’s market. Or, maybe they are not all that common since there has been tremendous herd liquidation due to drought the past couple of years.

Slaughter cow prices generally reach their seasonal price peak in late spring or early summer. They may or may not have already peaked, but that is of little concern given the extremely high price level. Cow condition does influence their total value from both a weight and price standpoint, but slaughter cattle in most any condition are bringing a high price due to the need for lean grinding beef. Specifically, the boxed cow beef cutout value has increased from just over $200 to $270 per hundredweight since the beginning of the year.

Figure 1 contains weekly slaughter cow prices in Tennessee for breaking grade cows. The price of this class of slaughter cows has increased in price by about $35 per hundredweight since the beginning of the year and are $20 per hundredweight higher than any point in 2023. Assuming a 1,200 pound cow, the total value has increased from $1,140 per head to $1,560 per head since the beginning of the year, which is a $420 per head increase. 

The value increase in slaughter cows is being driven by cattle producers hauling fewer of these animals to town, which is seasonally driven by calving season being in full force and the fact that many cattle producers have already culled deep into the cow herd. The value of slaughter cows should remain high for the next couple of years.

Figure 1. Slaughter cow prices for 2024, 2023 and the 5-year average.

Griffith, Andrew P. “Diamond Rings for Old Things.” Southern Ag Today 4(20.2). May 14, 2024. Permalink