USDA’s semiannual cattle inventory report provided some key insights for cattle markets in 2024. The overall cattle inventory, along with the beef cattle inventory, is historically low, yet the supply of cattle on feed is quite large. The calf crop and beef heifers held for replacement are also historically low, which will hinder cattle inventory growth in 2024 and possibly 2025.

This should provide opportunities for profitability in the cattle business in 2024, but with a smaller calf crop and fewer replacement heifers, declining production may also lead to record beef prices for consumers. Domestic consumer demand for beef has remained strong but with record prices on the horizon, consumers’ ability and willingness to withstand higher price levels in 2024 will be the determining factor.

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