Cattle Rally on Bone-Chilling Forecast

Cattle prices neared a four-month high this week as Arctic temperatures descended across the Great Plains. Subzero temperatures prevent cattle from gaining weight, limit the ability to bring them to market, and can even kill the animals, making cold weather a serious concern for cattle producers.

Even before the cold weather hit, prices had been exploding after hitting a six-year low in early October. Gains have been spurred by bargain-hunting buyers who have gotten bullish on beef after recognizing that national cattle inventories are near a four-year low. Recently, prices have gained more than 16 cents per pound, a 17% gain.

However, some market watchers fear a setback could be in order after almost two months of unrelenting gains. Meatpackers typically see less demand for meat after the holidays and should reduce their purchases in the coming weeks, which could undercut the searing-hot market.

As of midday Friday, December live cattle traded for $1.12 per pound.

Hog prices, too, have been skyrocketing, touching a four-month high near 64 cents per pound on Friday.