Cattle Prices Steady, Pork Prices Higher

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.


The pattern of negotiated cash trade being pushed to late week has reemerged. Negotiated trade was slow again last week with sellers who shrugged off steady bids being rewarded Friday. Prices were mostly $1 to $2/cwt higher in the north and $2 to $3/cwt higher in the south. The national weighted average for beef steers last week was $1.60 higher at $184.26/cwt.

Harvest rebounded after the holiday-shortened week and was estimated at 632,000 head, 73,000 more than Labor Day week, and 41,000 less than a year ago. Wholesale prices continue to slip with an average Choice carcass cutout average last week of $307.55, a drop of $5.85. The Select carcass cutout value averaged $285.28. The Choice/Select spread of over $22 explains the wide range of fed cattle prices currently seen at auction markets.

The average retail price of beef in August was $8.23/pound, down 1% from July and 8.6% higher than August last year. While the price of beef is moderating, it is still 36% higher than August 2019. A Cattle on Feed report will be released later today. It is unlikely the report will contain information that will greatly impact the market.

Cattle Prices

Fed cattle prices were steady at Wisconsin and surrounding state auction markets this week. High Choice and Prime beef breed steers and heifers brought $183 to $190/cwt. Choice steers and heifers ranged from $171 to $182/cwt. with mixed grading and those likely to grade Select bringing $158 to $170/cwt. Holstein steers were mostly steady from $158 to $167/cwt with a few to $170. Lower grading steers brought $130 to $158. Silage fed, under finished or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75 to $130/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were bringing $126 to $174 with a few to $180/cwt.

Cows were mixed. A bulk of the cows brought $70 to $103/cwt with some fleshier dairy and beef cows selling to $120/cwt and higher. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $70/cwt and down. Dairy breed bull calves were lower bringing $100 to $250/cwt with some heavier, well-managed calves selling to $360. Beef and Beef Cross calves were higher, selling up to $690/cwt and a few to $700/cwt.


Cash hogs were called 60 cents higher last week with a National Live Price Friday of $61.93, with a Carcass Base Price average of $99.25/cwt. Wholesale prices were higher with the pork cutout value averaging $99.25 last week, an increase of $1.95.

Hog supply typically increases in the fall and production continues to outpace year ago levels. The estimated harvest last week was 2.531 million hogs, 297,000 higher than Labor Day week and 45,000 more than the same week last year.

Lean Hog futures were active this week, with the December contract taking out the key level of resistance of $78.00 Wednesday, but showed weakness on the open Thursday. The average retail price of pork in August was $4.83/pound. That makes it 2.8% higher than July, and 2.2% lower than August 2022, but 26% higher than a year ago.


Fed lamb prices are in-line with the five year average, but much lower than levels seen in 2020-21. Market lambs were steady to $10/cwt lower last week. Market lambs were mixed from $150 to $210/cwt

U.S. lamb production has been lower this year based on lower live and carcass weights. Additionally, lamb imports to the U.S. have been down. Those two factors could mean higher lamb prices, especially if holiday demand mirrors typical seasonal patterns.

Last week’s estimated harvest totaled 35,000 head. That makes it 7,000 head higher than the previous week and even with a year ago. The net lamb carcass cutout value was $459.05 last Friday, and increase of $9.19 compared to the previous week’s report.