With beef demand and cattle markets remaining strong, ag economists are evaluating what seasonal weakness might look like this year for calf and slaughter cow markets. University of Tennessee ag economist Andrew Griffith says seasonal trends for calf prices are a regular part of the market.
“The question at the top of mind is if there will be seasonal weakness in the calf and slaughter cow market and if so what form it will come in,” he says. “It seems certain that seasonal weakness will appear in cattle markets, and that will probably mean slightly lower prices in the months of October and November.”
Of course, even seasonal weakness could still mean better prices than usual for the upcoming time of year, given the recent strength.
“However, that statement should be taken with a grain of salt in that it will not be the significantly lower prices that are typically witnessed when the spring calf crop makes its way to the market,” Griffith says. “Another potential form is that prices of calves and slaughter cattle do not decline, but stay rather stagnant. It is doubtful calf prices will continue escalating during the fall run of calves, but there is a strong possibility that the length of time in which calf price weakness occurs is abbreviated compared to most years.”
He says the same could be the case for slaughter cows as well.
“These statements hold true for the slaughter cow market as well,” Griffith says. “There is a need for lean-grinding beef and trimmings from finished cattle, and slaughter cows and bulls are the two main domestic sources.”
For now, cow-calf producers will likely just focus on getting their calves to market, although there could be some long-term planning ahead, he says.
“From a management standpoint, cattlemen looking to sell the calf crop in the next three months have little to do at this point except get the calves weaned and to market,” Griffith says. “Producers looking further into the future such as 2024 should consider using LRP to insure the high price expectations that are present via the futures market.”