From the Ground Up - Good Calf Prices for Beef

Fall is a time when some of our area ranchers market their annual calf crop. Most are feeling pretty good about this year’s beef production. Pete Scarmardo is a rancher and a cattle buyer.

“Calf prices are extremely high right now. When you’re a producer and you’re selling your calves today you like what they bring. The market is very good, so it’s maybe even bringing a few calves to town a little bit quicker than what they normally would bring them.”

Scarmardo also operates a livestock sale barn.

“One thing that helped our calf prices rebound and get stronger is we don’t have as many cattle. The U.S. is down in total population. We don’t have as many cattle moving and we’ve got a big corn crop which is going to make us be able to feed these cattle.”

When you couple less expensive grain with fewer calves to sell you get higher prices for calves.

“Our cost of gain is going to go down substantially in the feed yard so it’s making our fat cattle worth more because we’re having less beef. We’ve got fewer cattle, and then we’ve got a cheaper cost of production with cheaper grain so it’s making these calves sell very well now if you’re a producer.”

High calf prices can curtail the number of female calves that are held back. For the national beef herd’s numbers to increase, that will have to happen.

“Right now we’re seeing some heifer retention. Because of this people are keeping a few heifers. We’ve had some fall rains and we’ve got some winter pastures coming along but at the price at what these replacement heifers are worth as feeder heifers, it’s making some people rethink their ideas about saving them, maybe replacing more of their cows next year instead of this year with the high price of our calves this year.”

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