Cattle Futures Climb as U.S. Herd Declines to 61-Year Low

Cattle futures rose for the first time in a week after a government report showed the size of the U.S. herd fell to 61-year low, signaling tightening beef supplies. Hog prices dropped.

Beef and dairy farmers held 89.3 million head of cattle as of Jan. 1, down 1.6 percent from the start of 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report after the close of regular trading on Feb. 1. That’s the smallest herd since 1952. The most-severe drought since the 1930s reduced livestock-feed supplies and destroyed pastures, spurring ranchers to shrink herds.

“It’s a bullish report from a supply standpoint,” Dennis Smith, an analyst at Archer Financial Services in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “We’re still shrinking.”

Cattle futures for April delivery climbed 0.6 percent to $1.3295 a pound 9:28 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, poised for the first gain since Jan. 28.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement dropped less than 0.1 percent to $1.49175 a pound.

Hog futures for April settlement fell 0.4 percent to 88.425 cents a pound. Earlier, the price touched 88.275 cents, the lowest for a most-active contract since Jan. 24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at

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