While a severe winter has devastated feedlots and cow-calf operations in areas of the northern Plains, the weather actually has been warmer and drier than normal, according to the North Dakota State University Ranch Hand newsletter. The moderate weather has helped stretch what was a short supply of feed caused by the previous year’s dry weather. There is concern, however, about a lack of adequate moisture for the growing season. In the central and southern Plains, a normal spring and summer may improve grazing conditions. Last year at this time, those areas were very dry.

Winter storms across Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Missouri and Texas caused fed-steer prices and live-cattle futures prices to rally several dollars per hundredweight as packers scrambled to procure enough cattle. Not only were fewer cattle marketed, but those that were came in at lower weights. Cost of gains also increased with the sharply reduced feedlot performance. The storms’ impact likely will reduce beef production from what was expected throughout the first quarter of 2007.

Source: Ranch Hand newsletter.