How to Read a Cattle Market Report

By Sharyl Stockstill

You can derive a great deal of information from a livestock report, whether it is the national report or the local report from the livestock auction. Deciphering the information is relatively simple once you understand the basics.

Determine the classification of cattle in which you are interested. The livestock report is divided into separate classifications for heifers, steers, bulls and cows.

Decide the weight classification. For example, a report might break down steer calves into five different weight classes.

Note the average price per animal in your selected weight class. For example, say 300- to 500-pound steers are averaging $95 to $118. The price listed is for hundred weight. In other words, for every 100 pounds the steer weighs, you will receive up to $118.00. Thus, a 350-pound calf would bring $413.00 (3.5 X $118).

By doing some simple math, you can calculate the expected value of a 485-pound calf based on average per hundred weight: ($95 + $118)/2 = $107 average per hundred weight. Move your decimal two places to the left, and you have $1.07 cents per pound. Thus, $1.07 x 485 = $518.95 would be the expected value at the current market rate.