As the livestock economist for Extension at the University of Tennessee, opportunities to forecast cattle prices are never in short supply. Thus, there is always a demand for high quality and accurate cattle price projections. The primary problem is with the supply side, and the problem is that the price forecast changes from one day to the next and even more so from week-to-week or month-to-month. Given that this article is often written a couple of weeks before it is published, any and all cattle price projections may be of little use by the time it reaches the mailbox or the inbox. However, cattle prices are not the only factor impacting profitability.

It may also be beneficial to discuss the 2019 University of Tennessee Extension beef cattle budget and expected costs.  This range depends on the cost of a yearly to the cost of a proven-family cow. Calves or yearlings are much cheaper to purchase than full-grown cows. Additionally, a cow that has been bottled or hand raised will cost more because they are people friendly and better to have around the family.


Given the variability and seasonal trends of cattle prices throughout the year, it is necessary to supply an expected annual average cattle price based on given heifer, steer and slaughter cow weights. Based on the 2019 budget, slaughter cows (1,200 pounds) are expected to average $50 per hundredweight, while 550 pounds steers and 520 heifers are expected to average $145 and $130 per hundredweight respectively. Assuming the calving rate is 90 percent and a 2 percent death loss for cows and calves then the expected revenue per cow exposed to the bull is $623 per cow. Revenue will vary based on weight of animals when sold and the time of year those animals are sold.

Features of Average Cow

In the United States of America, the most famous breed is the Black Angus. This breed requires extra maintenance and care during the calving season. There are more breeds of beef cows that are great providers of beef such as:

  • Charolais: This breed is heavier in weight and in winters their coat thickens.
  • Hereford: They mature early and their fattening abilities are great. They are docile and are efficient at milk-producing.
  • Simmental: Easy to work with during the calving season. They too have good fattening abilities.
  • Red Angus: They are docile and have good fat marbling.
  • Texas Longhorn: These are survival cows and they have longhorns.
  • Highlands: They have thick coats, they can easily survive in colder weather. Their meat is lean and marbl

Prices of Average Cow

  • Slaughter cows with average weight of 1,200 pounds cost $600 ($50/100 pounds).
  • Steers with average weight of 550 pounds cost $800 ($145/100 pounds).
  • Heifers with average weight of 520 pounds cost $675 ($130/100 pounds).

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