USDA: Cattle prices lower on weaker demand

Bearish October “Cattle on Feed” taking toll on the markets.

Krissa Welshans, Livestock Editor

October 24, 2023

1 Min Read
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USDA’s latest “Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook” reported that the weighted-average price in September for feeder steers weighing 750–800 pounds at the Oklahoma City National Stockyards was $255.39/cwt., an increase of $6.65/cwt. from August and nearly $82.00/cwt. higher than September 2022.

In the first two sales in October, feeder steers were steady at about $250.50/cwt., but on October 16, feeder steer prices dropped to $242.83/cwt. Feeder steer prices on Oct. 23 declined further to $237.78/cwt. The pullback in prices is reflected in USDA’s latest Q4 2023 price forecast of $254.00/cwt.

The September average price for fed steers in the 5-area marketing region was $183.71/cwt, which USDA said has been relatively steady since June but nearly $40.00/cwt. higher year over year. Packers’ margins have declined since early September as the boxed beef prices fell and fed cattle prices remained relatively flat.

USDA expects cattle prices to increase through the end of the year, but less than previously anticipated as expected weak packer margins will likely limit much upside to cattle prices. As such, it lowered the fed steer price forecast for Q4 2023 to $185.00/cwt. These lower price expectations were carried through to the first half 2024 for an annual average of $185.00/cwt.

Meanwhile, nearby cattle futures have seen sharp declines since the release of the October “Cattle on Feed” report. December live cattle futures closed at $188.35/cwt. on October 2. They closed 10 cents lower at $178.35/cwt. on October 23. January feeder cattle futures closed higher at $259.35/cwt. on October 2 but closed sharply lower on October 23 at $235.70/cwt.

About the Author(s)

Krissa Welshans

Livestock Editor

Krissa Welshans grew up on a crop farm and cow-calf operation in Marlette, Michigan. Welshans earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University and master’s degree in public policy from New England College. She and her husband Brock run a show cattle operation in Henrietta, Texas, where they reside with their son, Wynn.

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