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 cattle fall
Fed cattle prices fell in lackluster trade, with steers averaging $138.14 per hundredweight, down $1.64, but heifers up 61 cents at $138.50.
Dressed trade was down $4-$5 per cwt. with Alberta rail prices at about $233. American buyers procured Canadian cattle priced on the U.S. five-area average.
Weekly sales volume rose 30 percent to 9,804 head.
The Alberta cash-to-futures basis narrowed $2.57 to -$16.53.
Weekly western Canadian fed slaughter to Feb. 1 fell three percent to 31,594 head. Slaughter is trailing last year’s pace by about 10 percent.
Weekly exports to Jan. 25 rose two percent to 7,744 head.
Record high beef prices have now made it to the retail level, and consumers are trimming beef purchases.
Cattle futures prices have held on fairly well, but beef cutouts took a heavy beating last week. Steer carcass weights are now running 35 pounds lighter than last year at 845-850 lb.
Feedlot managers can leave cattle on feed and add much needed condition to the feedlot supply, which has seen many cattle marketed before their time.
Western Canadian non-fed slaughter totalled 8,619 head, the first time this year that weekly kill topped 2013 levels. Demand for higher yielding cows is strong with trade reported in the low $90s.
Butcher cows generally rose $1.50 with D1, D2 cows ranging $75-$93 to average $83.33 and D3s ranging $68-$79 to average $73.20.
Good exports and strong domestic slaughter are keeping front-end supplies current, and there is potential for new record high prices in February and perhaps March.
Strong prices fill auctions
Record high prices have encouraged background operators to market feeders much earlier than normal.
Alberta auction volumes are exceptionally high this year, up 61 percent from 2013 and 31 percent from 2012.
Year over year average steer prices are $36 higher while heifers are $30 stronger.
U.S. buyers were active and showed particular interest in heifers. The steer-heifer price spread might narrow over the coming weeks.
There might be a solid pricing opportunity in forward pricing cattle for March-April delivery.
Alberta-Saskatchewan 800-900 lb. steers for March delivery have ranged $161.75-$176.50 per cwt. over the past two weeks.
Weekly feeder exports to Jan. 25 rose 51 percent to 8,591 head, which was 241 percent larger than the same time last year.
Buyers looking to put cattle on grass should support demand for light stockers.
U.S. boxed beef prices plummeted in the week to Feb. 6, with Choice down $17.24 US at $213.51 and Select down $17.48 at $212.31 on light demand and light to moderate offerings.
The cutout has fallen $25 over the previous two weeks with end cuts down $38-$46 from the peaks.
However, buyer interest is sluggish as prices remain $30-$31 per cwt. higher than a year ago.
Weekly Canadian cut-out values to Feb. 1 fell with AAA down $9.92 at $227.05 and AA down $6.51 at $226.96.