As the year wanes and a new year begins, cattle movement starts to slow down. This slowdown includes local livestock markets across Tennessee. Dr. Andrew Griffith, a rural economist with University of Tennessee Extension, says producers planning to market cattle during this time, even through January, should call the market or market management to inquire about the sale schedule.

“A phone call may save producers time, effort, a few dollars, and from unnecessarily stressing cattle during transport by simply being aware if the livestock market is open or closed,” Griffith said.

Griffith added that it may benefit producers if markets are closed. “Cattle prices this time of year for most classes of cattle are generally declining or are posting some of the lowest prices of the year,” he said. “We normally see cattle prices start strengthening after the first of the year. Lightweight steer and heifer (300 to 600 pounds) prices normally are on the rise through March and early April, and stay fairly strong through early to mid-May. The economist added that prices for 600 to 800 pound steers and heifers make most of their northward price movement from March to May and then are normally strong and steady through early August. “After August they are likely to start tapering off through the remainder of the year,” he said.

Griffith noted that cull cows should start to find some price support in February 2013 and will generally continue to ascend into May and early June before prices start to experience some resistance.

“It may benefit producers to hold on to all classes of cattle until after the first of the year if marketing of cattle is planned in the near future. Even more beneficial to padding the bank account is to hold those cattle until March or April, if ample feed supplies are available. That's when prices should start making strong gains,” he advised.

For more details about how producers can manage their cattle for maximum profits, contact your county UT Extension agent or visit the UT Extension publications web page online at Most publications are available for free. Additional information may also be available at the national extension web site:

You may also access publications and information through your local county UT Extension office. Addresses and phone numbers are available in your local telephone book, usually in the local government section.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issue at the local, state and national levels.


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