The following report was prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP’s livestock and meat specialist the week of 11/3. This report draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA reports.


Last week brought a high level of volatility to the market. Cash fed cattle were lower, although negotiated trade in the South was steady by week’s end. Some traders are questioning the accuracy of the recent Cattle on Feed report, but no one can cast doubt on the impact it had on the cattle complex. Feeder cattle prices at auction markets across the country were mostly lower. All indications tell us many beef heifers are being marketed as feeders and feds. There are reports that herd rebuilding is taking place in some regions, but it is limited.

Cash cattle were $2.40 lower with the National Daily Cattle and Beef Summary publishing a weighted average beef breed steer price of $183.53. Even at this lower level, fed steer prices are $32.00/cwt higher than a year ago. The Choice beef cutout value is showing strength, up $1.85 to average $306.49. The weekly harvest estimate of 636,000 head was 2,000 lower than the previous week and 31,000 head below the same week last year. The USDA released a Cold Storage report last week showing that beef in freezers on September 30 were 6% higher than August, but 20% below September of last year. 

Cattle Prices

Fed cattle prices were steady with last week. High Choice and Prime beef breed steers and heifers brought $173 to $178/cwt with highs of $185/cwt. Choice steers and heifers ranged from $166 to $173/cwt. with mixed grading and those likely to grade Select bringing $155 to $166/cwt. Holstein steers were mostly steady, bringing $150 to $158/cwt with some lots from $158 to $162. Lower grading steers brought $125 to $150. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75 to $125/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were bringing $126 to $173 with a few to 180/cwt.

Cows were $2 lower. A bulk of the cows brought $67 to $95/cwt, with some fleshier dairy and beef cows selling to $105/cwt, with reports of individuals selling higher. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $67/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were steady, bringing $100 to $300/cwt with some heavier, well-managed calves selling to $420.

Beef and Beef Cross calves were lower, selling up to $700/cwt.


Lean hog futures contracts recovered more quickly than the cattle complex last week. The December Lean Hog contract ended the week $4.40 higher. Cash hog prices were called $1.50 lower, however. Packers did bid higher to open this week. The pork cutout value was lower, averaging $87.37.

Last week’s estimated hog harvest was 2.614 million, up 4,000 on the week and 50,000 head higher than a year ago. Even with larger weekly harvest totals, pork production has leveled off and is comparable to a year ago due to lower hog weights. Ample supply of market hogs will continue into 2024.

Pork in cold storage is 14% below a year ago, and down 1% from the end of August. All primals in storage were lower except for loins. Net pork export sales for October 13-19, 2023 were down 8% from the previous week and from the prior four-week average. Mexico (10,200 metric tons) and China (3,400 metric tons) were the leading buyers. 


Cash fed lambs were mixed last week. The USDA National Sheep Summary called traditional lambs $10 to $15 lower, with light lambs steady to $20 higher. Ewes were steady to $5 lower with feeder lambs showing good demand and called $7.00/cwt higher.

Harvest continues to outpace last year with last week’s estimate at 37,000 head. That is 1,000 more than the previous week and 3,000 more than a year ago.

The lamb cutout jumped $8.49 last week to finish at $471.57. Holiday demand will be key in maintaining American lamb prices through the end of the year.

Lamb and mutton in cold storage at the end of September was 15% lower than a year ago.

Market lambs were lower from $160 to $190/cwt.