February 9, 2024: Cattle Prices Not Likely to Subside

If you’re like me, you probably appreciated the cull cow prices we received in 2023. When milk prices fell to their lowest in the summer months, you could still count on a decent price per pound if you sent a cow to auction. For those who are using some type of beef on dairy program in their herd, the prices we received for those Angus crosses was also very helpful, with some folks reporting getting $700 or more for one week old black calves.

The trend toward higher beef prices is expected to continue in 2024, with the latest USDA numbers showing cattle inventories dropping another 2% in 2023 to 87.2 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms as of Jan. 1, 2024. As lingering drought continues to affect key beef regions in the U.S., the number of cows and heifers that have calved has fallen by 2% from a year ago to 37.6 million head. U.S. calf crop was estimated at 33.6 million head, down 2% from the beginning of 2023. The number of beef cows are down to 28.2 million head nationwide, also down 2% from a year ago. The US beef herd is now at its smallest level since 1961.

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