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Nebraska Winter Lifts U. S. Cattle Prices

CHICAGO/REUTERS

Winter storms have blasted Nebraska, slowing movement of cattle and hampering weight gain, helping to lift cattle prices across the country for producers who have been losing money for more than a year, analysts and traders said on Jan. 5.

More snow is on the way for Nebraska, the No. 2 cattle state, which is still digging out from its snowiest December in 38 years, said Mike Palmerino, meteorologist at DTN Meteorlogix.

Parts of Nebraska got more than 61 cm of snow in December, shattering a 1945 record. Another five to 10 cm of snow was forecast starting on Jan. 6.

The harsh weather is stressing cattle and reducing their weight, as well as hampering delivery of the animals to slaughterhouses.

In Nebraska, cattle traded $3 higher the week of Dec. 28 at $135 per hundredweight on a carcass basis and $2 to $2.50 higher at $83 to $83.50 on a live basis at the feedlots (all figures US$).

In Texas and Kansas, cattle traded about $2 higher that week at $84-$85.50 per cwt.

“It is definitely going to have an impact on the amount of pounds the cattle put on,” said Doug Karl, general manager of Mid-America Feedyards in Ohiowa, Neb.

Cattle in southeast Nebraska lost 30 to 40 pounds during the recent weather and may lose more as forecasts called for at least another week of cold and snow, he said.

“Just as the heavy cattle in Nebraska were a detriment to the market a few months ago, the market is being helped by the cattle being set back due to the weather,” said Bob Anderson, analyst at Des Moines-based Commodity Services Inc.

“I look for the weather effect on the cattle to last 30 days at a minimum,” he said.

The higher cash prices have helped live cattle futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange rally 8.7 per cent since early December to about 86 cents per pound.

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