See The 2024-2025 Estimates For Beef

Prepared and written by Jeff Swenson, DATCP Livestock and Meat Specialist. The Market Update draws information from several sources, including trade publications, radio broadcasts, agricultural news services, individuals involved in the industry as well as USDA NASS and AMS reports.

The May World Supply and Demand Estimates report released by the USDA last week raised beef production slightly, with expectations for an increase in harvest and higher cattle weights during the second half of the year.

The report also offered the first estimates for 2025 production. Beef production for 2025 is forecasted to be lower than 2024 based on tighter supplies and the likelihood of increased heifer and cow retention. The USDA projects fed steer prices will average $188 in 2025.

The estimated cattle harvest was 622,000 last week, making it even with the previous week and 22,000 head below last year. Fed cattle harvest has been higher than last year, but cow harvest is running well below year-ago levels. Heifers made up 32.3 percent of the harvest total, compared to 31.5 percent the same week last year. Packers slowed their harvest pace this week and fed cattle supplies were expected to be steady to slightly larger. It is likely harvest numbers will be lower next week as well.

The Choice beef cutout value averaged 296.78 last week, making it $2.27 higher than the prior week. News of a smaller harvest boosted wholesale beef prices early this week with cutouts pushing through the $300 barrier Tuesday.

Last week’s National Retail report for beef showed grocers were giving less ad space to cuts from the chuck, round, and brisket, while ad space for loin cuts were up 54 percent from the week before. This is a welcomed sign that retailers are transitioning their inventory to accommodate grilling season.

Fed cattle were steady to strong this week. High Choice and Prime beef breed steers and heifers brought $173 to $183/cwt with a few instances of packages bringing $183 to $188/cwt, with some to $192/cwt. Choice steers and heifers ranged from $163 to $173/cwt with mixed grading and those likely to grade Select bringing $150 to $163/cwt. Holstein steers were steady. High grading steers brought $156 to $168 cwt with reports of some from $168 to $172/cwt. Lower grading steers brought $127 to $156. Silage-fed, under-finished, or heavy dairy breed steers brought $75 to $125/cwt. Dairy x Beef steers were steady, bringing $130 to $178/cwt with some higher.

Cows were higher. The bulk of the cows brought $100 to $127/cwt with some to $130 and above. Doubtful health and thin cows were bringing $100/cwt and down.

Dairy breed bull calves were steady from $200 to $400/head with some heavier, well-managed calves selling to $700. Beef and Beef Cross calves were steady, selling to $1,000/head.