This cattle market information is selected from the weekly report from Canfax, a division of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. More market information, analysis and statistics are available by becoming a Canfax subscriber by calling 403-275-5110 or at www.canfax.ca.
New fed records
More price records for fed cattle and beef fell last week as the extreme tight supply pushed markets higher.
Fed steers averaged $133.64 per hundredweight, up $3.08. Heifers averaged $132.50.
Dressed prices were around $227 per cwt. late in the week. Longer fed cattle available for immediate delivery fetched premium prices.
Weighted average steer prices were a little more than $17 per cwt. higher than the same week last year.
Weekly sales volume rose 33 percent to 9,189 head, but that was down 23 percent from the same time last year.The Alberta cash-to-futures basis was steady at -$14.37.
Weekly western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending Jan. 4 rose 16 percent to 20,490 head.
Weekly fed cattle exports in the holiday week to Dec. 28 were 3,544 head, down 42 percent from the previous week.
Feedlots marketed cattle early and the cold weather slowed weight gain.
Record high live cattle prices have pressured retail beef prices higher and consumers might head to cheaper competing meats.
Fed cattle prices typically rise during the first quarter.
Cow prices recover
Packers worked through most of their holiday inventory.
Western Canadian D1, D2 cow prices were at a $16 discount to U.S. utility cows just before the holidays, the largest discount since February 2009.
Last week, firm U.S. demand and light volumes of non-fed cattle trading through auction forced Canadian packers to push bids higher.
Cow prices were up $6-$7 on a live basis compared to late December.
D1, D2 cows ranged $70-$85 to average $79.50, and D3s ranged $65-$76 to average $70.83.
Rail grade cows ranged $157-$162.
Non-fed prices have tended to rise into mid-February in recent years.
Heavy steers post record
The feeder cattle market was lightly tested, but demand was brisk for all classes of cattle.
Steers strengthened $3-$9 while heifers climbed $1-$5, compared to the last week in December.
Demand for bunk replacements remains especially strong as 800 pound and heavier steers established new record highs last week.
Western Canadian feeder cattle prices could not be established last week because volumes were too light.
The weekly Alberta auction volume was 6,498 head, down 40 percent from the same week last year.
Canadian feeder exports to the United States for the year to Dec. 28 totalled 315,628 head, up 134 percent from 2012.
The Canadian dollar is trading at the lowest level since September 2009 and feeder cattle futures are trading near contract highs, which could result in some pricing opportunity. Producers might consider looking at forward contracting, Cattle Price Insurance Program coverage or option markets.
Short keep feeders are trading at or near record highs, so look for calf and light stocker prices to rise.
Bred cows ranged $1,000-$1,350.
Beef sets records
U.S. Choice rose $11.50 to a record $212.05 US per cwt. and Select was up $13 at $209.05.
Select is now $13.05 above the last peak of $196 seen in March 2013.
Weekly Canadian cut-out values to Dec. 27 rose with AAA up $3.83 Cdn per cwt. and AA up $1.64.
Last year’s AAA cutout averaged four percent higher than 2012 at $195.16 per cwt., while the AA cutout was up three percent at $188.88.