U.S. livestock: Live cattle end week lower

Hogs down on Olymel's plan to ship Canadian hogs south

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. live cattle futures rose on Friday, but failed to end the week higher as a cold snap across the U.S. Plains and into Texas hampered slaughterhouses and backed up cattle, traders said.

“There’s still a big mess,” said Dennis Smith, commodity broker at Archer Financial. “The good news is, the weather’s going to improve by Monday.”

Chicago Mercantile Exchange April live cattle futures settled 0.75 cent higher at 123.675 cents/lb., while the spot February contract ended up 0.8 cent at 115.925 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

For the week, April live cattle lost 1.2 per cent, its biggest decline since the week ending Nov. 20, 2020.

CME March feeder cattle fell 0.925 cent to settle at 139.125 cents/lb.

Unusually cold temperatures and snowfall across Texas and the southern U.S. Plains caused power failures that shut down meat processors, but Smith said backups should be minor, as the cattle have been losing weight due to colder temperatures.

“They’ll be going for very large kills for the next two or three weeks to make up for this mess,” he said.

For the week through Friday, U.S. processors slaughtered an estimated 489,000 cattle, 78,000 less than the week prior, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA reported more cattle were put on feed in January than expected, with placements at 103 per cent of a year ago, versus trade estimates for 99.8 per cent.

CME April lean hog futures fell 0.425 cent to 84.5 cents/lb., pressured after Canadian processor Olymel said it would ship pigs to the U.S. for slaughter due to a COVID-19 outbreak at its major hog slaughter plant at Red Deer, Alta.

For the week, April lean hog futures fell for the first time in five weeks, dropping 0.8 per cent, its biggest fall since the week ending Dec. 11, 2020.

— Christopher Walljasper reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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