CN October November 2023 Vol. 62 Issue 6

WILL CATTLE PRICES SURGE EVEN HIGHER IN 2024? By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor

I f you liked 2023 cattle prices, being sold and risk management coverage, there is even stronger profit potential for calves, feeders and fed cattle marketed next year. With high demand for beef that’s in short supply, producers and feeders should be rewarded with higher prices in 2024, says David Anderson, Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension economist. He is among most livestock marketing economists who see continued high prices next year. “With what we’re seeing, prices are 2024’s should please you even more. Depending on the quality of cattle expected to be higher for the next couple of years,” Anderson projects, taking into account low cattle numbers and an ever- growing domestic and export demand for high-quality beef. Anderson notes that in late August, USDA’s Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) showed medium- to large-frame No. 1 500- to 600-pound steers averaged more than

$280 per cwt. That compared to more than $200 the same period in 2022. For medium- and large-frame No. 1 700- to 800-pound feeder steers, the late August market showed prices at about $250 per cwt., having backed off from nearly $260 a few weeks earlier. That’s compared to about $180 the same period in 2022. Fed steers finished at prices that averaged just under $180 per cwt. By mid-September, they were pushing $185. The combination of continued demand and tight cattle supplies were the main reasons prices were about $40 per cwt. higher than the same period in 2022. If Anderson’s projections are any indication, look for the uptrend to continue. Here are his 2024 quarterly projections for 500- to 600-pound calves: • 1st quarter: $265-$272 per cwt.

Anderson’s quarterly projections for 700- to 800-pound feeders take a similar path upward: • 1st quarter: $253-$258 per cwt.

• 2nd quarter: $263-$268 • 3rd quarter: $275-$285 • 4th quarter: $282-$292

Anderson’s fed cattle projections have 1,100- to 1,300-pound fats surging to more than $200 in late 2024: • 1st quarter: $185-$189 per cwt. • 2nd quarter: $193-$198 • 3rd quarter: $191-$195 • 4th quarter: $203-$208 Tight Supplies to Continue Tight supplies are helping keep prices higher, and Anderson sees no quick relief for herd rebuilding. “Higher supplies and higher demand ought to suggest higher prices. And higher prices are a market signal to start rebuilding the herd,” he says.“The speed of rebuilding is the key. Continued drought in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska will dictate our ability to expand the cow herd.” Replacement heifers are expected to decrease by 2.4 percent in 2024 to just more than 4 million head, according to LMIC projections.“We need to increase replacements to grow the herd,” Anderson says.“Fewer heifers were held back for replacements this year than in 2022, and that number is going even lower. “But there are still mixed signals on rebuilding. Along with reduced placements, fewer beef cows are being culled. Maybe that will help rebuild the herd.” He adds that beef production is down from a record year in 2022.“This is a trend that will continue the next couple of years,” he predicts.“For 2023, we’re down 5.5 percent from 2022, then it’s projected to be down another 6 percent for 2024. We have fewer cows, fewer calves and fewer cattle in feedlots.”

• 2nd quarter: $270-$275 • 3rd quarter: $282-$292 • 4th quarter: $292-$308

Much-needed high cow-calf profits are in the forecast.


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