Calf Prices 2021

After a tough couple weeks in February, it is looking a lot more like spring in Kentucky. Spring means stocker operators are looking to place calves on pasture for summer and is the time of year when we typically see our seasonal highs in the calf market. As of mid-March 2021, calf prices had increased by more than $10 per cwt from their lows in the fall of 2020.

At the time of this writing (March 16, 2020), fall 2021 CME© feeder cattle futures were trading in the mid-upper $150’s per cwt, which was roughly a $20 premium over the March contract.  This suggests an extremely large increase is expected for heavy feeder cattle prices between now and fall, which should bode well for calf prices as we move closer to grass growth.

Some operations likely placed calves during the winter, with the intention of purchasing stockers before the typical spring price peak.  However, many more will place calves as pastures green up in the coming weeks.  It is imperative that stocker operators pay careful attention to the market, their costs, and what can be paid for stocker calves this spring.


eteran market analyst Kevin Good just gave America’s cow-calf producers the green light for higher prices, looking all the way into 2025. It’s old-fashioned supply and demand at work, with consumer demand, export demand and increased processing capacity all expected to play key roles in just how high prices go. Good, who started working with CattleFax in 1982 and today is vice president of industry relations for the organization, covers the fed cattle markets and analyzes supply and demand, production trends, weather and other factors that affect the cattle and commodity business. He presented his most recent market overview as part of a virtual media roundtable, sponsored by Zoetis. The analyst’s outlook for the cow-calf sector highlighted seven factors that all appear to line up in favor of producers moving forward.


 Leverage is going to shift. There have been plenty of complaints about packers having all the market leverage, especially last year. That’s all changing as things swing back in favor of producers. Leverage, noted Good, is that 40-hour plant capacity and the number of cattle harvested weekly. The last four to five years as supply increased, it outran capacity, and demand was not strong enough to counter that. Moving forward, though, supplies of cattle will continue to decline, and at the same time, existing processing plants are expanding, and new ones are being built. This expanded demand means the leverage component shifts away from packers, with more dollars moving into the hands of cattle producers.


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 $600 to $1,900 

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