Why do some beef cuts go up while others go down?
By Bob Oros
The supply and demand is what determines the prices on the various cuts of beef. The cycle is longer on beef than any other species as it takes about 12 years to completely recover from a year of over production or under production.
If we compare the reproduction cycle of beef to the other species we can see why it takes 12 years. It takes 24 months for a steer or heifer to grow large enough to yield 600 lbs of meat and they can only reproduce one offspring per year.
Compared to a hog, which only takes six months to grow to a size that will yield 250 lbs of meat and they can reproduce at a rate of 10 to 20 offspring every six months or less. On the other hand, a lamb takes one year to grow large enough to yield 100 lbs of meat and they can only reproduce at the rate of one per year. Poultry, though reproduces (lays eggs) several times per week. It takes 22 weeks for a turkey to grow large enough to yield 22 lbs of meat and a chicken only 6 to 8 weeks to grow 3 lbs. All of this has a lot to do with the prices we pay.
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