What is the Current Market Price for Beef Cattle?

The beef cattle industry is a major component of the agricultural economy in many countries around the world. Beef cattle are raised for their meat, which is sold to supply the global demand for beef products. Understanding the current market prices for beef cattle is important for cattle ranchers, meat processors, traders, and other industry participants.

Overview of the Beef Cattle Market

The market for beef cattle consists of farmers, ranchers, feedlots, meat packing companies, traders, and other intermediaries. The market essentially facilitates the trade of live cattle from farms and ranches to slaughterhouses and processing facilities. Some key facts:

  • The 5 largest cattle producing countries are Brazil, India, China, the United States, and Argentina.

  • The United States has the largest fed-cattle industry in the world, producing over 25% of the world’s beef.

  • There are over 900,000 cattle farms and ranches in the US.

  • The USDA provides extensive market data on cattle prices and inventory numbers.

How Cattle Prices Are Determined

Livestock prices are determined by the basic market forces of supply and demand. Some key factors influencing cattle prices include:

  • Breeding inventory – The size of the beef cow herd that produces calves. Higher inventory means more supply.

  • Cost of feed and inputs – Cattle must be fed grains like corn; higher costs squeeze farmer profit margins.

  • Weather and disease – Drought or disease can reduce calf crops and cattle available for market.

  • Export demand – About 10-15% of U.S. beef is exported overseas. Higher demand raises prices.

  • Domestic consumption – Over 60% of beef consumed in America comes from steaks and ground beef. Trends in beef demand influence farm prices.

Current Market Prices for Beef Cattle

There are two main categories of cattle that are bought and sold:

  • Feeder or stocker cattle – Calves purchased after they are weaned, usually 500-800 lbs.

  • Fed cattle – Finished cattle raised specifically for beef production, usually 1100-1400 lbs.

Feeder Cattle Prices

Feeder cattle prices averaged $2.50/lb over the past week according to March 2024 USDA reports. This is down -0.29% from the prior week. Feeder cattle prices tend to follow trends in corn prices, since corn is a major input cost for cattle feedlots.

Current feeder cattle prices are about 8% higher than the 5-year average for this time of year. However, prices can fluctuate significantly week-to-week.

Live Cattle Prices

Live cattle prices averaged $1.88/lb nationally for the week ending March 2024. This represents a -0.38% decrease over the previous week.

Live cattle prices typically peak in June-August during summer grilling season when demand for steaks is highest. Seasonally, prices tend to bottom in February-April.

Current live cattle prices remain several percent above the 5-year average. However, prices are down from 2014-15 peaks over $2.00/lb.

Seasonal Factors for Cattle Prices

Beef prices demonstrate seasonal patterns influenced by changing supply and demand:

  • Spring – Prices tend to decline as cold winter weather moderates and cattle are sent to pasture.

  • Summer – Grilling demand increases seasonal prices into early fall.

  • Fall – Prices remain firm before moderating into the end of the year.

  • Winter – Prices reach seasonal lows around January-March before spring increases.

Extreme weather such as droughts or heatwaves can alter seasonal trends. Overall beef production levels also significantly impact prices year-to-year.

Regional Price Differences

There are also regional differences in cattle prices across the major production areas:


As the largest cattle feeding state, Texas heavily influences national prices. Texas fed cattle traded at approximately $1.87/lb last week.


Kansas feedlots traded cattle at around $1.85/lb on average last week. This state accounts for over 20% of U.S. beef production.


Nebraska cattle feeders saw prices around $1.88/lb for live cattle last week. Both supply and demand factors in Nebraska impact national prices.


Iowa finished cattle traded around $1.86/lb last week, very close to the overall U.S. average price.

Regional price differences often reflect local supply and demand balances, as well as proximity to major cattle feeding areas and meat packing plants.

Outlook for Cattle Prices Moving Forward

Most agricultural economists expect cattle prices to remain relatively firm over the next 12 months, although continued volatility is likely. Some potential price factors to monitor:

  • Expansion of beef exports, especially to Asia.

  • High feed costs if drought conditions develop.

  • Consumer demand and restaurant sales amid inflation concerns.

Close monitoring of weekly USDA livestock reports provides the most up-to-date information on price trends. Cattle finishing margins also need to remain favorable to encourage feeding. Understanding the market price for cattle is essential for those involved in the beef production chain.

Why the price of beef in the U.S. has skyrocketed in 2023


How much can you sell a 1200 lb cow for?

Based on the 2019 budget, slaughter cows (1,200 pounds) are expected to average $50 per hundredweight, while 550 pounds steers and 520 heifers are expected to average $145 and $130 per hundredweight respectively.

What is the projected price for beef cattle?

The decline in production in 2024 will lead to a 1.7-pound decline in net beef supply to 56 pounds per person. Mike Murphy, CattleFax chief operating officer, forecasted the average 2024 fed steer price at $184/cwt., up $9/cwt.

What is a 900 lb steer worth?

Apr. 19
600-700 lbs.
+ $1.26
700-800 lbs.
– $2.05
800-900 lbs.
– $5.16

What is the average price of a cow calf pair?

Calves usually cost between $600 and $1,200. The cost can fluctuate depending on the breed and the calf’s health. Although calves come with lower upfront costs, they require significant care and time before they reach a productive age, which can add to their overall cost.

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