Cattle prices rally
Cattle futures jumped during the final week of 2015, supported by live cattle prices in the southern U.S. Plains.
Prices gained more than US$10 per hundredweight in cash markets as wintry weather and muddy feedlot conditions slowed movement of animals to slaughterhouses.
Market-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains moved at $133-$135 per cwt., $11 to $13 stronger than the previous week, feedlot sources told Reuters.
Animal weights also were declining seasonally, which further limited supplies.
There were questions early this week whether the market could retain the gains.
A sharp drop in the stock markets Jan. 4, led by a market meltdown in China, was expected to weigh on cattle futures. Also, beef demand tends to struggle through the end of January as consumers pay off year-end holiday debt.
Shoppers will continue to eye less-costly and plentiful pork and poultry into early spring.
Hog prices well supported
U.S. cash hog prices were expected to firm this week because packers normally increase slaughter rates following reduced kills during the holiday season.
U.S. packers are enjoying strong operating margins. Wintry weather in the Midwest likely slowed hog growth and created transportation problems.
Iowa-southern Minnesota hogs delivered were US$38 per hundredweight Jan. 4, slightly down from $38.50-$39.00 Dec. 18.
U.S. hogs averaged $48.96 on a carcass basis Dec. 31, up slightly from $48.53 Dec 18.
The U.S. pork cutout was $68.83 per cwt. Dec. 31, down from $71.50 Dec 18. The estimated U.S. weekly slaughter for the week to Dec. 31 was 1.664 million, up from 1.516 million the previous week.
Slaughter was 1.236 million last year at the same time.
The Canadian Bison Association said Dec. 18 that Grade A bulls in the desirable weight range sold at prices up to C$5.50 per pound hot hanging weight.
U.S. buyers are offering US$4.25 with returns dependent on ex-change rates, quality and export costs.
Grade A heifers sold up to C$5.35. U.S. buyers are offering US$4.10.
Animals outside the desirable buyer specifications may be discounted.
Beaver Hill Auction in Tofield, Alta., reported 693 sheep and 101 goats sold Dec 21.
Wool lambs lighter than 54 lb. were $235-$260 per cwt., 55-69 lb. were $225-$250, 70-85 lb. were $205-$232, 86-105 lb. were $167-$200 and 106 lb. and heavier were $143-$166.
Wool rams were $66-$110 per cwt. Cull ewes were $66-$124.
Hair lambs lighter than 54 lb. were $200-$230 per cwt., 55-69 lb. were $210-$235, 70-85 lb. were $190-$224, 86-105 lb. were $156-$179 and 106 lb. and heavier were $142-$162.
Hair rams were $80-$117.50 per cwt. Cull ewes were $66-$110.
Feeder kids lighter than 60 lb. were $195-$225. Good kid goats lighter than 70 lb. were $210-$250. Those heavier than 70 lb. were $210-$245 per cwt. Nannies were $142.50-$169 per cwt. Billies were $117.50-$192.50.
Ontario Stockyards Inc. reported that 840 sheep and lambs and 168 goats traded Dec. 29.
Lambs traded actively at pre-Christmas prices. Good sheep sold $5-$10 cwt higher.
Good light goats sold steady, with heavier type kid goats selling slightly lower.