Call Ahead or Consider Selling in Early 2018 

Cattle producers are advised to consider waiting to sell until 2018, rather than risk a low price or even a closed market. Image courtesy Annie Spratt. 

A quick phone call could save producers time, effort and a few dollars this holiday season. According to Andrew Griffith, an assistant professor of agricultural economics with University of Tennessee Extension, cattle sales start to slow down around Christmas and New Year’s. This slowdown in cattle movement includes local livestock markets across Tennessee, meaning some livestock markets may be closed on regular business days in the coming weeks.

“If a producer is planning to market cattle during the next few weeks, then a call to the market or market manager to inquire about the sale schedule for the next few weeks may be a wise decision,” said Griffith.  “A phone call may save producers time, effort and a few dollars, as well as from unnecessarily stressing cattle during transport by simply being aware if the livestock market is open or closed for the week.”

Closed markets may benefit producers though. Added the economist. “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. We normally see cattle prices start strengthening after the first of the year,” he said.  

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, Griffith said. “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, when they are likely to start tapering off the remainder of the year.”

The economist advises cattle producers that cull cows will start to find some price support in February 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. If markets are closed the next couple of weeks, then producers do not have much of a choice other than to wait until the New Year which should benefit the revenue side of the profit equation,” he said.   

“Even more beneficial to padding the bank account is to hold those cattle until March or April, if ample feed supplies are available,” Griffith recommended. 

For more information about Tennessee livestock marketing, read the Tennessee Market Highlights newsletter, online at or contact your local county Extension office.

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Dr. Andrew P. Griffith, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 865- 974-7480,