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.
Fed prices down slightly
U.S. cash cattle prices fell from the record of about $150 US per hundredweight the previous week, and beef values also backed off.
Packer competition was light in Canada, but the Canadian dollar traded at a 41/2 year low, which encouraged U.S. packer inquiries. Bids from the United States were reported at a premium over local trade, but no sales were confirmed.
In light trade, steers averaged $139.78 Cdn per cwt., down $2.74. Rail grade trade in Alberta was around $237-$238 per cwt. delivered. Sale volumes were light.
Feedlots are current in their marketing, and short-fed cattle are being marketed aggressively.
Canadian steer carcass weights are down 36 pounds and heifer are down 31 lb. from last year.
Weekly Canadian fed exports two weeks ago totalled 6,296 head, the largest export volume since mid-October.
The Alberta-Nebraska cash-to-cash basis is the weakest since March 2007, which is encouraging exports of a little more than 6,000 head per week.
Western Canadian fed slaughter topped 32,000 head the first time since the beginning of November.
Cash-to-futures basis levels tend to weaken from January to February.
Was the recent rally a short-term flash or is a new trading range developing? The market was getting toppy, but given snug North American fed supplies and weak basis levels in Canada, there is near term price support.
Cow prices up
Large volumes of slaughter cows were carried over into the new year, and many have been marketed at auction over the past couple of weeks. However, strong grind de-mand has maintained keen buyer interest.
D1,2 prices were $75-$90 to average $81.92 per cwt., up $2. D3 cows were $65-$79 to average $71.60, up 67 cents. Rail grade bids were $163-$168 delivered.
Butcher bulls were steady, averaging $88.95 per cwt.
Weekly western Canadian non-fed slaughter to Jan. 25 rose three percent to 9,147 head.
Weekly exports to Jan. 18 jumped to 10,569 head. Trade should ease following recent large volumes, which will support prices.
Most feeders jump higher
Feeder prices rose $1-$2 per cwt. on strong demand. The auction offering the past two weeks has been large for this time of year.
Strong prices and co-operative weather flushed out more than twice the volume of the same period last year. However, stockers weighing 300-400 lb. saw prices fall $1.50-$2.50 on inconsistent supply.
Solid, broad based buyer interest lifted 400-700 lb. calves $2- $2.75, and 700-800 lb. surged $2-$3.75.
Feeders 800-900 lb. were mixed with steers $2.25 higher while similar weight heifers fell 75 cents.
Large short keep steers heavier than 900 lb. jumped $4.60 higher, and comparable heifers rose 54 cents.
The Alberta auction volume rose five percent to 45,918 head.
Auction volume is up 70 percent at 120,602 head so far this calendar year. Weekly exports to Jan. 18 totalled 5,678 head, bringing the year’s total to 7,521.
Feeding margins remain profitable and feedlot interest is again anticipated from both sides of the border.
Interest in grass cattle has surfaced, and feeder competition could intensify.
Beef falls from records
U.S. boxed beef prices fell from last week’s record highs, with Choice down $7.14 at $230.75 US Jan 30 and Select down $7.80 at $229.79.
Weekly Canadian cut-out values to Jan. 25 were still rising with AAA up $12.53 at $236.97 Cdn per cwt. and AA up $10.39 at $233.47.
The Canadian cutout was up 13-14 percent in the first four weeks of January, while the U.S. cutout was up 19-20 percent and the Canadian dollar weakened four percent.
Consequently, Canadian cutouts are at a sharp discount to American prices. Most of the discounts are attributed to end meats, while middle meats are generally in line with the U.S.
Montreal wholesale prices for delivery this week increased to $227-$229 per cwt.