Beef market forecasts have remained positive in an otherwise-turbulent year. At mid-summer, economists’ projections of a positive cattle and beef market have held true, while feeder cattle and calf markets have exceeded expectations – welcomed news for ranchers. However, severe drought conditions have led to unprecedented culling of beef cows throughout the Western half of the U.S. The latest drought monitor report showed that 70% of the country was experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. USDA’s latest cattle inventory report showed a decline of 2.3% in cow herds compared to January 2022.

Reviewing previous market patterns can help show growers how a decline in beef cows could impact feeder cattle and fed steers. Since the 1970s, there have been four other times where cattle numbers have declined. Market history indicated that both national fed steer prices and feeder steer prices posted higher average levels in the four years following the cycle.

Read more on beef cattle market prices here.