Sort & Cull

Back in the Saddle

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
Although no year is ever scot-free of headaches or hurdles, I'm looking forward to the year ahead and the opportunities that could arise for cattlemen in 2024. (Photo by Kristen Shurr)

Hello friends! It's been quite a while since we last chatted and, boy, have things changed!

Even though both the live cattle and feeder cattle markets continue to trade at relatively high prices, October through December was a challenging time. Cattlemen banked on the fact that scarcely thin supplies should have garnished higher prices in the fourth quarter. But in today's technically driven and always-too-quick-to-react marketplace -- the market's strong fundamental footing didn't stand a chance at keeping day traders entertained enough to keep a long-term outlook or dependable position.

But now that the holiday season has passed and we're well into 2024, the market seems to have settled its unnerving feeling and is again back on the gain.

And like the markets, my life was fast and furious over the last three months, too, as my husband Jimmy and I welcomed our second son (Coy Daniel Stewart) into the world. Somehow along the way, we acquired a pony for our oldest son Stetson and a family milk cow named Peaches. A baby, a pony, a 2-year-old little boy AND a milk cow --- you could argue we are insane or living our days to their fullest potential. While most of the time I smile and think about the latter, there are days that I wonder about the former!

I've spent a lot of time self-reflecting, reading and journaling over the last couple of months as I want to cherish these days forever. For me, these are the days of rocking little boys and playing "cowboys" with toy guns and bouncy horses. For me, these are the days of building more feedlot bunks with my husband so that we can continue to let our business grow and flourish. For me, these are the days of endless cups of coffee, a never-ending to-do list and a load of laundry that needs rewashing because I, once again, forgot to switch it over to the dryer.

But if there's anything I'm certain of, it's that I'm living the days I'll someday look back on and say, "Those were the good old days." And just as I someday hope Jesus will look at me and say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant," I know that I'm called to serve Him, to serve my family and to serve you by hopefully bringing some level of market clarity and understanding to this complex and ever-changing market environment.

I look forward to walking with you through this upcoming year and taking the market's challenges head-on. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about what the year ahead has to offer -- record low cow inventory, strong feeder cattle prices and continued beef demand.

But you and I know this game well enough to know the upcoming year won't be without its challenges, especially given that it's an election year, that interest rates are high and that today's market runs faster than ever before. So, friends, it feels good to be back in the saddle and I look forward to taking on 2024 alongside you. Here's to more!

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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