Cattle Projections 

Form-A-Feed provides monthly cattle feeding projections for various weights and types of cattle.  These projections provide a good estimate of the current cattle feeding climate.  Contact a Form-A-Feed representative for projections specifically tailored to your operation.

Click on the link below to see current projections:

May 2017 FAF Projections.pdf

Commentary Regarding Current Projections by Simon Kern, M.S.:

The trends of 2017 have held steady for the first third of the year: more cattle (slaughter +5.5%), lighter carcass weights (average steer carcass down from 870+ to just under 850 pounds), and a net increase in domestic beef production (+4.4%). So how is it that cash cattle prices have not only held their own but exceeded all expectations (touched $145/cwt live) in the wake of a rather sizable increase in production? The devil is in the details. First of all, several estimates from the private sector show a more tempered increase in domestic production relative to the USDA numbers (+1.7%). Regardless of which estimate is correct, the clearer picture comes when looking at supply available for domestic consumption (domestic supply + imports – exports). March exports were extremely strong (+24.7% volume, +24.2% revenue) and imports continued to run below the 5-year average netting an unusual surplus for US beef trade. This all but erases the increase in domestic production in the scope of domestic consumption over 2016. Additionally, beef has been heavily featured in pre-Memorial Day retail putting substantial pressure on packers and wholesalers to fill orders (and thus push up prices). Packers have been aggressive in pulling ahead market-ready cattle and drawing down the supply of cattle on feed more than 120 days which has allowed feedlots to stay very current. With slaughter numbers expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future, we will have to wait and see what the post-Memorial Day demand picture shapes up to be and how it impacts cash cattle prices.


Changes month over month:

  • Expected fed cattle prices have experienced steady gains netting +$2.00-6.00/cwt.
  • Improving fed cattle prices have pushed the demand for feeder cattle and prices have responded in kind (+$15.00/cwt for Holstein feeders, +$18.00-21.00/cwt for beef steers, and +$8.00-11.00 for beef heifers).
  • Modest increase in cost of gain (+$0.50-1.00/cwt): corn -$0.03/bushel, DDGS +$2.50/ton, MDGS +$3.00/ton, pelleted soybean hulls -$15/ton, corn silage, corn stalks, and grass hay all unchanged.
  • Margins have fallen for beef feeder steers to the tune of -$65-75 per head due in large to the much stronger feeder markets. The softer market for beef feeder heifers have allowed the profit outlook to remain relatively unchanged despite some significant market movements on either side.
  • Holstein feeder margins are extremely mixed (+$145 to -$140 per head). Danger looms for lighter or slower growing calves as summer 2018 prices are at a sharp discount to spring (-$7.50-10.00/cwt). Purchase price and expected marketing date need to be closely monitored as to not end up on the wrong side of this slide.


As always, please note the difference in cost of gain ($6-11/cwt) and potential profits ($50-100+/head) between the high and low efficiency projections. Ensuring proper management and animal husbandry can make the world of difference in this regard. Spring has finally arrived and wild temperature swings and added moisture making pen conditions difficult to maintain. It is as important as ever to keep pen and bunk management at the forefront in order to keep cattle healthy and performing.


For more specific projections, please contact your Form-A-Feed representative.