Cattleman's Outlook and Why it Matters to the Beef on Dairy Market

News and Updates
The National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) recently hosted its annual CattleCon, and each year this event yields more relevant information for dairy producers engaging in the beef on dairy market. Whether you are marketing day-old calves or retaining ownership, if beef semen is part of your genetic strategy, the discussions at this event affect the dollars in your pocket. Here’s what you need to know about the native beef population, market demands and the argument for beef of the highest quality.

By: Lauren Kimble, Manager of ProfitSOURCE® , Select Sires Inc.




Native Beef Population

The native beef herd is at its lowest in 50 years due to drought, input costs, interest rates and other challenges. It is unlikely to bounce back soon, even with today’s high beef prices. The latest reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that U.S. cattle inventory has dropped 2% compared to the same time last year. In an article from Dairy Herd Management reporting on the U.S. Farm Report Roundtable, Derrell Peel, extension specialist for livestock marketing with Oklahoma State University, pointed out that the U.S. beef cow herd is the smallest since 1961, the cattle inventory is the lowest since 1951, and he believes this scenario will lead to even stronger cattle prices.

“We have gotten smaller than we intended to be, smaller than we need to be from a market standpoint, and I think that’s going to be where we jump off to think about where we go from here,” said Peel.

“Not only did the latest report show signs of further contraction, there currently aren’t any signals showing a rebuilding of the U.S. cattle herd has started to take place,” said Nevil Speer, Turkey Track Consulting. “40% of the on-feed population was heifers last quarter. So, there’s no indication that we’re ready to dig back in and start rebuilding.”

Once beef producers begin to retain heifers to regrow their mama cow herd, this will result in reduced supply being shipped to feedlots and on to packers. The lowest cattle volumes at harvest are expected to be in 2026. For 2024, weekly harvests are expected to be merely half of the total packing plant capacity.

Though beef prices may reduce slightly early this year, they are expected to creep back up to record highs in 2024, and higher yet through 2026. Consumers continue to demand high-quality beef and this has driven Quality Grade spreads to record highs. Research shows that the marketplace favors animals bred for high Marbling – a hallmark of the ProfitSOURCE genetic lineup and a highly heritable trait. Producing high-quality cattle is the best strategy to secure your market access. 


Beef on dairy will continue to be sought after to keep feedlot pens and packer space full. If you aren’t using a beef on dairy strategy in your herd, it is not too late to start using ProfitSOURCE sires. By 2026, 15% of cattle packers’ harvest is expected to be beef on dairy – quality cattle will make a difference! 

Whether you’re using beef semen in your strategy or not, consider these forecasts and trends and plan for the long-term. Through research trials and carcass data, Select Sires can put a price on performance. Learn the value of ProfitSOURCE cattle here.

Back to Articles