dr martens suede Cattle prices stronger at beginning of 2018 than 2017
MISSOULA, Mont. As we head into 2018 cattle prices are looking stronger than at the beginning of last year.
Comparing numbers from Jan. 12, 2017, to Jan. 11, 2018, from the Missoula Livestock Exchange shows calves are going for about 20 to 30 cents more a pound. For a 400 pound calf that’s an extra $80.
While the market is better today than last January those in the business say it could be better.
“This year the cattle are making money; they are not making excellent money, but they are selling very well, respectively,” said Craig Britton, general manager at the Missoula Livestock Exchange.
He says it’s all supply and demand that drives prices. The rise and fall is a trend he sees often.
“The trend will keep going until a lot of ranchers buy heifer calves, breed them, make them replacement heifers, which means they’re going to be cows, and once that happens we flood the market again, and we start all over on a downward situation until it’s time that those people have lost quite a lot of money and aren’t in the business anymore,
and usually these people are absentee owners, they aren’t the foundation of your cattle raising people such as a rancher that’s been here 40 or 50 years,” said Britton.
Ted Schall has been ranching near Arlee for 60 years.
“It’s a lot of work, and it’s expensive wintering cattle, but usually it pays,” said Schall.
Britton says the market flooding cycle takes about seven years, but it could change at any minute.
“We’re in a very poor situation at the present time. Now, by a poor situation, I don’t mean don’t get in the cattle business; I mean the cattle have a very good chance of going up at a pretty fast rate, which they’re doing at the present time, but they have just as good a chance of going down at a faster rate than what they came up,” said Britton.
That’s why ranchers keep a close eye on where it’s at.
“We just watch the market. If the market’s good we sell a couple of cattle. If the market isn’t so good we don’t sell them,” said Schall.
As for consumers, Britton says you won’t see any changes in beef prices. If you buy it from the store, packing houses plan for and adjust to the ups and downs of the cattle industry.