Sort & Cull

It's Time to Think About How You'll Market Your Calves in 2021

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
In a little over a month, the nation will be testing this year's calf market with some of the biggest specialty sales through Superior, Northern and Western Video Market sales. (DTN file photo by Gregg Hillyer)

Springtime is a treasure, but it's also often a cussed season for cattlemen, as their to-do lists run extra-long. From calving out the last few cows, to turning on water, getting balers prepped and branding calves before kicking them out to grass -- the jobs seem endless and the days often run from dawn to dusk.

But, believe it or not, in a little more than a month, the nation will be testing this year's calf market with some of the biggest specialty sales -- Superior, Northern and Western Video Market sales.

With corn prices being the highest they've been in the last eight years, the calf and feeder cattle markets have been scaling lower during the last month to reflect the heightened cost of inputs. With lofty daily cost of gains being on the forefront of feeder cattle buyers' minds, the market desperately needs to see stronger fat cattle prices to make buying these calves and feeders worth the investment and time.

Thankfully, the feeder cattle market does have some positivity backing its position. While it's undoubtedly true that feed costs are high and that marketing cattle this year could be a colorful challenge, we can't look at the market through a singular perspective. Just as it's important to note input costs, it would be careless to overlook the current cycle of the U.S. cow herd.

With the nation's cow herd being in the beginning phases of a liquidation cycle, fewer mature cows lining the countryside yields fewer calves to be marketed in the upcoming years. With fewer options to sort through, historically, prices grow stronger as buyers must compete against one another to procure the calves they need.

It's hard to say which contributing factor will have a greater pull on the market at this point, but regardless, producers should begin thinking about how they are going to approach marketing their calves this year.


Tune into this week's Cattle Market News update on the DTN/Progressive Farmer Facebook Page or by clicking the link below to hear more about last week's cattle market and what's expected in the near future:…

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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