Sort & Cull

Cattle Market Loves a Snowstorm, Could See Uptick in Prices

ShayLe Stewart
By  ShayLe Stewart , DTN Livestock Analyst
This week's storm could mean some long days for ranchers who are calving, but no one is grumbling about the chance of moisture. (DTN file photo)

Last week's drought monitor didn't paint a kinder outlook for cattlemen as much of the West and Central plains continue to be hit by drought. In looking ahead to what may come this week, cattlemen hope the storm that's blowing across the West and expected to touch in North Dakota and the Great Lakes will give the country a shot of some much-needed moisture. My grandpa, who's an old sheep herder and cowman himself, likes to humor us all with one-liners that are either hard to argue with or too true to even be funny, and his latest joke of, "if it sucks gas or eats grass, you don't want it," may be both!

DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick warned this week's storm could be a doozy: "Northern Wyoming, most of Montana, North Dakota, the northern part of South Dakota and Northern Minnesota all need to be prepared for this week's storm. North Dakota is looking like it will get the worst of the week's weather and could get as much as 12 to 24 inches of snow. The other areas mentioned are more likely to get 6 to 12 inches, but eastern Montana could be well over a foot," said Baranick. "The snow is expected to start Tuesday morning and could last all through Thursday. It also coincides with strong wind gusts of 35 to 50 mph winds, which will make for blizzard conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, winds could ramp up to 50 to 65 mph. The heavy snow will translate to 1 to 2 inches of liquid, which should help put a dent in the drought. Following the actual storm, lower temperatures in the following week will make for a slow melting process," Baranick explained.

Interestingly enough, there's an old wives' tale that says, "the cattle market loves a snowstorm," and when looking at Monday's live cattle complex, the tale seems true, and the live cattle market is trading strong. If this storm does indeed produce the moisture it's expected to, the cattle market could see a strong uptick in feeder cattle prices as there are limited supplies of feeder cattle left and green grass should come when the weather warms up. Although this week's storm could mean some long days for ranchers who are calving, no one is grumbling about the chance of moisture.

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at


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