Hedging Opportunities for Managing Price Risk for Cattle

Uncertainty and volatility are dominating most commodity markets given the current environment, which includes increasing inflation and interest rates. Despite the cash price of many goods escalating rapidly, cash cattle prices have done no such thing as can be confirmed by the CME feeder cattle index and the 5-area weighted average price for live cattle. However, the futures market, options market, and Livestock Risk Protection insurance (LRP) have been offering several opportunities to hedge cattle prices at much higher prices than have been physically experienced for several months. For instance, the August feeder cattle contract has traded between $163.93 and $186.65 per hundredweight over the life of the contract. During that time, the August futures price has held a $10.53 to $27.29 per hundredweight premium to the CME Feeder cattle index. These premiums appear to encourage hedging cattle, but convergence has been an issue with cash prices and the futures market. This is where LRP has an advantage in that it is indemnified based on the CME feeder cattle index and the 5-area weighted average price for live cattle. Figure 1 illustrates the number of days the daily settlement price for each feeder cattle contract exceeded the final settlement price from 2015 through 2020. The point of this figure is that the futures market often offers opportunities to benefit from hedging.

Figure 1. Number of days the daily settlement price of feeder cattle futures contracts exceeded the final contract close price during the life of the contract (2015-2020). (LMIC, 2021; Griffith and Boyer, 2022)

Griffith, A.P., C.N. Boyer, I. Kane. 2022. Producer Focus Groups: Price Risk Management Contributions to Economic Sustainability in the Cattle Industry. University of Tennessee Extension publication. In Press.

Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC). 2021. Historic CME Feeder Cattle Futures Prices.

Griffith, Andrew P. . “Hedging Opportunities for Managing Price Risk for Cattle“. Southern Ag Today 2(27.2). June 28, 2022. Permalink

Associate Professor
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

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