By Joanna Newman
THE widespread US heatwave is placing a heavy toll on cattle producers in several states.
Drought-like conditions have withered grazing pasture and pushed up death losses.
In the feedlots, the daily rate of weight gain for cattle on feed has slowed sharply due to the 100°F-plus temperatures.
Producers are anxious to bring their cattle more quickly to market to beat the sweltering conditions, and this extra supply may put a cap on the cash prices paid by slaughter houses.
Packers are currently bidding 64¢/lb (94p/kg), while producers are offering at 66¢/lb, up a cent from a week ago.
Extremely hot weather is also reported to be having a negative impact on beef consumption, which could result in a short-term slowdown in packing activity.
Against this backdrop, the Chicago August live cattle contract, for market-ready (finished) heavier animals, had dropped to 64.3¢/lb on Tuesday, 3 August, down from over 65¢ early last week.
The scorching weather has driven up grain prices amid concerns over lasting crop damage, and this trend in turn is putting pressure on feeder (store) cattle values.
Feeder cattle usually trade in an inverse relation to their cost of weight gain as represented by maize prices.
The Chicago August feeder cattle contract has dropped in the wake of maizes strength, closing on Tuesday, 3 August at 76.3¢/lb (112p/kg), off a cent from a week ago.