2018 average prices for Choice Steers are estimated at $117/cwt., slightly below 2017. 2019 prices are forecast relatively flat at $114-122/cwt. However, many Northeast beef producers serve specialty markets and receive significantly higher prices than national averages.
Dairy cull cows have averaged $40-55/cwt at auction depending on quality and grade. Bull calves are fetching extremely low prices or even nothing depending on the market. Cow and cull prices have fallen by at least 25 percent, year-over-year, causing reduced earning potential of the sector.
The number of beef cattle on feed is the highest recorded since data collection began in 1996. 2018 beef production came in at 2.9 percent greater than last year. However, beef exports were 4.6 percent above last year, helping to support domestic prices. Thus far, growing demand, largely from exports, has kept pace with increased supplies, but continued production increases or trade disruptions could impact the domestic supply-demand equation.
Most livestock product prices for 2018 averaged below prior year levels due to larger supplies. Eggs were an exception, which received relatively high prices, compared to year-earlier lows, but their prices are expected to fall in 2019.
Recreational equine markets are supported principally by local recreational demand and non-farm income, and have been tracking upward along with the general economy. Money and investment have been flowing into the industry.
International Farm Comparison Network releases annual dairy analysis