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Expect seasonal price trend for culls

Know the USDA cull cow grades before you send them to market
Cull cow prices should be the lowest in the fourth quarter this year and then trend higher in 2018, according to LMIC.

Cow-calf producers with the resources to keep and add pounds to cull cows should start calculating whether to market them in the fourth quarter, or add weight and market in the first few months next year, say analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC).

In other words, LMIC expects typical seasonal cull cow price trends this year. In an industry driven by spring-calving cows, that means prices will be lowest in the fourth quarter when most of the open cows come to town.

Cull cow prices usually decline about 10% between September and November (long-term average), according to LMIC. Then prices increase seasonally after the first of the year. Last year, LMIC analysts say cull cow prices increased $5.25 per cwt between November and January, $12 between November and February, $20.50 between November and March.

Even with seasonal trends in place, LMIC expects cull cow prices to be lower year over year.

“Several factors underpin the seasonal pattern in cull cow prices,” LMIC analysts explain in the most recent Livestock Monitor. “First, the supply of cull beef cows is largest in the fall, which dampens prices. After those large supplies are marketed, prices increase. Second, fed cattle prices are typically highest in the winter and early spring months (February through May), which supports slaughter cow prices. Other factors that can significantly influence cull cow prices are the level of dairy cow slaughter and the amount of beef imported from Australia and New Zealand, which competes mostly in the cow-beef market and not as much with meats from fed steers and heifers.”

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