Fed cattle prices up
Fed cattle prices rose in light trade.
Fed steers averaged $141.81 per hundredweight, up $3.85, while heifers averaged $142.21, up $1.91.
Most of the trade was dressed with a range of $238-$238.50 per cwt. basis the feedlot.
A few long-fed heifers traded at a strong price premium.
Most of this week’s trade developed before the Chicago live cattle futures fell and the cash to futures basis widened slightly to -$22.54.
Chicago live cattle futures fell when beef prices came off record highs and June futures fell below the 10-day moving average. As well, trades pushed prices down in expectation of a higher placement number in the U.S. Department of Agriculture cattle on feed report.
U.S. buyer interest in the Canadian cash market was light. There are problems booking trucks to haul south.
Sales volume was about steady at 12,331 head.
The weekly western Canadian fed slaughter volume to March 15 fell 14 percent to 32,523 head.
Weekly fed exports to March 8 rose 17 percent to 9,936 head.
Most years, spring high prices are posted around April 1.
This year, a record fed price was set in the fourth week of January. This week’s average is the second highest.
Most fed cattle in feedlots have been priced, and Canadian packers are comfortably bought.
The market should begin to trend lower seasonally.
Western Canadian cow slaughter was 5,288 head, the smallest kill so far this year.
Supplies have been manageable, other than calving culls and a few speculative cows bought last fall and marketed now.
Packers are lifting cows from commercial auctions in a timely fashion because of seasonally tighter numbers.
D1, D2 cows traded in a range of $90-$110 to average $99.60 per cwt. D3 cows ranged $80-$94 to average $87. Those prices are $18-$23 higher than the same time last year.
Dressed cows were $195-$200.
Exports totalled 6,533 head. Recently, exports have trended be-low year ago volumes.
Cow prices usually rise this time of year.
Placements into western Canadian feedlots are running 40 percent ahead of last year.
Feeder marketings are brisk, and demand for all classes of cattle remains strong.
Moisture conditions have improved in parts of the United States, and there are signs that producers are stabilizing or rebuilding their herds. Demand for replacement quality heifers should be strong, and some of those cattle could come from Canada, creating a strong marketing opportunity.
Weekly feeder exports to March 8 fell six percent to 12,732 head, but that was 54 percent larger than the same time last year.
Barley bids for April delivery are around $4 a bushel delivered to southern Alberta, which is a slight premium over current cash prices.
Feedlots and grass buyers are concerned that the number of feeders available in April and May might be smaller.
U.S. beef rallies
The U.S. Choice cutout was $241.57 US per cwt., up 27 cents over the previous week, and Select was $234.77, up $2.10.
Choice traded as high at $244.08 during the week, which was a record high. U.S. steer carcass weights dropped seasonally to 858 pounds from 866 lb. over the last two weeks. The trend could accelerate and affect grading performance.