Facts and projections for 2018 from CattleFax

Each year CattleFax shares outlooks for what could come in the near and even distant future during the Cattle Industry Convention. This year CattleFax is celebrating 50 years of analyzing cattle markets for beef producers and this past year was the second most profitable in history for the industry as a whole. For 2018, profitability won’t be as high for all stakeholders, but it is still expected to be a good year. The cow herd is starting to slow down on expansion and exports are going to continue playing a role in U.S. beef producers’ success.

Here are some of the facts and projections shared by CattleFax:

  • U.S beef cow inventory increased 2.8 million head in four years, and an additional 200,000-400,000 head are expected to be added to the herd over the next few years.
  • Total slaughter looks to rise 3.7% to 33.5 million head while carcass weights are expected to rise 10 lb. on average. Beef production is slated to rise 5% to 1.3 billion pounds.
  • Cattle feeders are losing leverage with profitability share from beef cutout expected to reach 52.3%, down from a high seen in 2018 of 58.4%.
  • From a long-term perspective beef demand looks to be very robust. Retail prices will likely only drop 1% in 2018.
  • Exports are expected to account for 20% of fed cattle value at $343 per head in 2018.
  • Corn acreage looks to rise 800,000 acres to 91 million acres. Corn is expected to yield 172 bushels per acre.
  • In 1980, the U.S. was producing 47% of the world’s corn. Now it is about 35%.

For 2018 cattle prices are projected to average:

  • Fed Cattle: $115/cwt ($100-130)
  • 750 lb. Feeder Steer: $145/cwt ($135-160)
  • 550 lb. Steer Calf: $158/cwt ($135-180)
  • Utility Cow: $60/cwt ($50-70)

S0urce: Drovers