Cattle Prices Rise

The following report was prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP’s livestock and meat specialist. 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. Edited by Mid-West Farm Report.


The USDA released a monthly Cattle on Feed Report last Friday with numbers matching pre-report estimates almost exactly. The number of cattle in feedlots over 1,000 head on January 1 totaled 11.9 million – 2.1% more than a year ago. Steers and steer calves made up 60% of the total, and over 39% were heifers. The percentage of heifers in feedlots would need to fall to about 32% to indicate the cowherd is being rebuilt. Cattle placed in feedlots during December totaled 1.70 million head, making it 4.5% below December 2022. The number of cattle available outside of feedlots continues to decrease.

Negotiated cash sales did not develop last week. The few sales reported by Friday were steady to $2.00/cwt lower. Harvest did bounce back after the weather slowdown of the previous week. Last week’s estimate of 617,000 head was 71,000 more than the previous week and 30,000 less than a year ago.

The Choice Beef Cutout moved $11.88 higher, to average $295.33 last week and was above $300.00 the middle of this week. It will be worth watching how wholesale prices react when production schedules normalize after holiday and weather challenges.  

Cattle Prices

Fed cattle prices were mostly higher at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets. High Choice and Prime beef breed steers and heifers brought $168 to $173/cwt, with reports of some from $173 to $178/cwt and a few higher. Choice steers and heifers ranged from $160 to $168/cwt, with mixed grading and those likely to grade Select bringing $152 to $160/cwt. Holstein steers were mostly steady. High grading steers brought to $149 to $155, with some to $157/cwt. Lower grading steers brought $124 to $149. Silage fed, under finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75 to $123/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were steady to higher, bringing $126 to $165/cwt.

Cows were steady to $2 higher. A bulk of the cows brought $70 to $95/cwt, with some fleshier dairy and beef cows selling from $102 to 110/cwt. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $70/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were fully steady, bringing $100 to $300/cwt, with some heavier, well-managed calves selling to $450. Beef and Beef Cross calves were higher selling up to $700/cwt