In its monthly check-up, the beef industry remains healthy according to Drovers’ index of economic indicators. Seven out of eight arrows point up, led by higher cattle prices. Production indicators pointed down due to a big increase in placements and cattle on feed. Placements jumped 25 percent from August to September. Despite packer profits, fed cattle prices have stayed near $65 for months.

Meanwhile, stocker and feeder calf prices have increased steadily resulting in equally steady increases in the projected breakevens over the next several months. Analysts expect feeder margins to decline as we head into winter, perhaps having the effect of a flu bug on the beef industry’s economic health.