Finished cattle prices are expected to moderate from spring highs in the low $120s. Second-quarter prices are expected to average near $117, with third-quarter prices a few dollars lower. End-of-summer lows could be in the $110 to $112 range. If drought forces cow liquidation, summer prices could be even lower.
"Prices should rally back into the $117 to $120 range in the fall and continue to move upward into the early spring of 2012," he said.
Overall, much higher cattle prices than historic norms are expected in coming years. However, producers should secure feed supplies for this summer and continue to manage margin risks very closely, Hurt said.