As we begin 2014, it is safe to say 2013 went out on a high note in the cattle industry. While prices were mostly steady to slightly lower in December, they remained hot through the end of 2013. Fed steers averaged more than $130 per hundredweight for the last two months of 2013, and analysts predict fed-cattle prices to stay high in the coming months. Cow-calf producers are forecast to earn nearly $280 per head in 2014, compared to $251 in 2013.
Production costs were also mostly steady in December, with corn prices averaging $4.14 per bushel compared to $4.12 in November. This is compared to $7.47 per bushel for corn last year at this time.
USDA’s annual cattle inventory report is due out later this month. While most expect the number to be lower than 2013, it is also anticipated that recent downward trends in cow slaughter will continue. Cow and heifer slaughter were down over the month and compared to this time in 2012.