Beef prices surge as cold weather rolls in

Cattle await sale.

According to cattle rancher Ken Lenox, when the weather is 14 degrees below zero, the worst place to put his cattle is in a barn.

"They'll get to sweatin' a little bit if there's no draft or anything, and then you go outside and that's when you get pneumonia," Lenox, a fifth generation cattle rancher, says. "Snow's like this is an expensive snow."  

With his grass frozen, Lenox and his team are hauling about 16 bales a day, each weighing about a thousand pounds.

Lenox says despite the cold (and one troublesome bull) his ranch is in good shape.

Cattle prices have hit record highs with reduced herds due to weather conditions and the increase cost of feed.

"Two or three years looking down the road we're going to have to build back numbers, and that's a slow process. You can build numbers real quick with chickens hogs, and other things," says the Rolla, Missouri native. "It's easier to create a pound of chicken than a pound of beef at lightning speed."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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