Find trends and outlooks, education and more on financing rural America from Farm Credit Services of America.

More Content

Economic Conditions: Beef Feedlot and Cow-Calf

This is the third in a series of blog posts about the economic conditions of various commodities for the quarter ended June 30.

Cattle feeders experienced strong profits in the second quarter due to very strong prices and reduced feed costs.  Fed cattle prices averaged $150 per cwt. during the second quarter of 2014, a continued surge in prices that began during the fourth quarter of 2013. This compares to average fed prices one year ago of $127 per cwt. Feeding margins also improved, as feed costs continued to decline in the second quarter in response to the excellent crop progress reports.  Higher than anticipated domestic demand in the face of record beef prices at the meat case as well as robust exports also helped prices set record levels at quarter-end, typically a time of a seasonal summer low. Exports through May 2014 are 8 percent ahead of last year.

The impact of elevated cow slaughter in recent years due to drought conditions has limited supplies of both fed cattle and placements. Additionally, there is an uptick in heifer retention, indicating a cycle of herd rebuilding that has further decreased feedlot supply. Fed slaughter through the second quarter lags year-ago numbers by approximately 5 percent, leading to a similar 5.2 percent reduction in overall beef production. Cow and bull slaughter was down 11.5 percent year over year.

Cow-calf operations also remained very profitable due to record calf and yearling prices.  Feeder cattle prices rose as limited supplies from herd rebuilding, along with decreased feed costs, were supportive.  Prices for 550 pound steer calves averaged about $251 per cwt. compared with $161 per cwt. in the second quarter of 2013, while 750 pound yearling steers averaged $207 per cwt. compared with $144 per cwt. a year earlier.


Load more comments
Your comment has been received and is being reviewed.

Comments are moderated and reviewed before they are posted on the site. View our terms of use.


Crop Insurance

Crop Insurance & Grain Marketing: Are You Taking Advantage?

Crop insurance and marketing goals can work together to provide the best financial return.

Jun 2, 2014 | The Business of Agriculture

Rising Cattle Values Boost Need for Owner Equity, Lender Capacity

Ranchers, feeders and feedyard operators often ask why lenders require cattlemen to invest greater levels of equity to maintain the lending relationship. We offer the answers.

Jun 12, 2014 | The Business of Agriculture

USDA’s June Forecast for 2014/15 Production and Season-Average Farm Prices

The USDA says crop conditions in the Corn Belt are the better than any time since 2007. Check out what, if any, impact this is having on projected yields – along with a lot of other good information on 2014/15 production and price forecasts.

Ready to Talk?

Contact us if you have questions or need more information. Fill out the form, or connect with your local office using the Office Locator.

FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.