Depending upon the weather and consumer tolerance for high prices, 2015 could be a make-it or break-it year for beef producers, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Of course, it’s all about supply and demand, said Stan Bevers, AgriLife Extension economist, Vernon. In Texas and the rest of the U.S., cow inventory numbers are down, largely due to recent droughts. This means calf supplies are down as well.

And as many parts of Texas have come or seem to have begun to come out of the drought, livestock producers are avid about rebuilding herds or at least having stocker calves to take advantage of available winter wheat grazing, Bevers said. All in all, this means producers are seeing some extraordinary prices at the sale barn.

“Calf prices have been pretty much record prices throughout the year,” he said. “Every time we think we’ve reached a new plateau, we just wait a week or two weeks and they go higher. It’s not uncommon right now to see 450-pound calves bringing around $3.60 a pound, which puts them somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,600 a calf, which is extraordinary and more than we thought we’d ever see.”

In the Rolling Plains area, where Bevers is stationed, as well as many other parts of Texas, the rains came at just the right time to really stimulate the planting and growth of winter wheat pastures. The good forage availability is likely to contribute to driving calf prices even higher throughout much of 2015, Bevers said.