In 2011, record-high beef, fed cattle, feeder cattle and calf prices were realized. All of those records may be broken again in 2012.
Now that I have your attention, let's examine the cattle market more closely; document those record-high prices and examine the conditions that may lead to those records being exceeded in 2012. I will also document that record-high prices don't always translate into record high profits.
USDA Choice box-beef prices averaged $181/cwt. for 2011. The prior high was in 2010 at $157/cwt.; that is an increase of 15%. However, the weekly high of $201/cwt. set in October of 2003 was not exceeded this past year.
Fed-cattle prices averaged $115/cwt. for 2011, which was a 21% increase over 2010 prices at $95/cwt. The record-high weekly average was $127/cwt. in November. Back in October of 2003, the record-high price observed at that time was $113/cwt., which was exceeded by this past year's average.