Cattle futures rise, hogs weaken as winter storms hit livestock

Wintry weather has delayed livestock shipments
calendar icon 5 January 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group lean hog futures fell to their lowest price in more than two weeks on Wednesday and live cattle futures strengthened as snowstorms continued to disrupt livestock operations, reported Reuters.

Feeder cattle futures reached their highest price since September.

Wintry weather in the northern US Plains has delayed livestock shipments, reduced cattle weights and likely killed some animals, though the magnitude of losses is unclear, producers said.

Parts of Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota received up to 6 to 18 inches of snow from Tuesday's winter storm, making transportation difficult in rural areas, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a daily weather report.

Following other year-end storms, pork processors are working throughhogs that backed up on farms, said Jim Gerlach, president of broker A/C Trading.

"The northwest corn belt is seeing another round of winter weather early this week and a little more missed kill as a result, not ideal in light of our already-missed production over the prior three weeks," brokerage StoneX said.

CME February lean hogs ended down 1 cent at 84.075 cents per pound and reached their lowest price since Dec. 16.

Pork processors slaughtered an estimated 475,000 hogs, down from 484,000 hogs a week ago and up from 462,000 hogs a year ago, the USDA said. Beef processors slaughtered an estimated 125,000 cattle, down from 128,000 cattle a week ago and up from 114,000 cattle a year earlier.

Cattle producers last year reduced their herds because of drought in the western United States and elevated feed prices.

Live cattle weights were estimated at 1,390 pounds as of Dec. 31, down from 1,392 pounds a week earlier and 1,404 pounds a year earlier, according to USDA.

"Beef production is going to fall off a cliff in 2023," said Gerlach.

CME February live cattle ended up 0.425 cent at 157.275 cents per pound. March feeder cattle futures jumped 3.450 cents to 188.225 cents per pound as grain prices tumbled.

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