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.
Canadian market lags
American fed live prices exploded $4-$6 per hundredweight higher and dressed sales soared $7-$10, posting new records on tight supply.
However, Canadian packers paid no notice, maintaining bids around $8 lower than the previous week.
Feedlots rejected the bids, and sales were too light to establish a price trend.
The terrible cash-to-futures basis encouraged local feedlots to seek U.S. interest, and a handful of cattle traded south on a grid-price base.
The Alberta cash-to-futures basis of around -$32 was the weakest since 2005, when the consequences of BSE were still having an impact.
Western Canadian fed slaughter in the short week ending Feb. 22 fell 15 percent to 27,372.
Slaughter is up nine percent this year at 213,601.
Weekly fed exports to Feb. 15 were seven percent smaller than the previous week at 7,282 head.
Stronger boxed beef values should support fed prices, but kill floor chain speed is expected to remain sluggish, and local packers have a comfortable supply.
Canadian packer interest is expected to remain lackluster, so most feedlots will keep cattle on feed.
Cows edge lower
Non-fed rail bids eased, while live bids were flat to slightly lower.
D1, D2 cows ranged $79.75-$100.25 to average $89.69, and D3s ranged $73-$87 to average $79.88.
Rail grade cows were $175-$180.
Non-fed volumes appear to be easing, which should support the market.
Butcher bull prices were almost $2.25 higher, with the high end of the range at $112 per cwt.
Weekly non-fed exports from Western Canada to Feb. 15 were less than 4,000 head for the first time since early January.
Non-fed prices should continue strong because slaughter-ready numbers in North America remain tight and beef imports have not filled the void in lean manufacturing beef.
The feeder market was generally flat.
Price weakness at the high and low weight ranges was likely a reflection of quality rather than market conditions.
Steers 500–800 pounds rose about $1.50 per cwt.
It is not unusual for prices for lighter calves and heavier feeders to diverge at this time of year, reflecting the different marketing windows.
March usually sees the lowest prices of the year for 850 lb. steers.
The feeder basis is weak, and feeder exports in the week ending Feb. 15 were more than 10,000 head for the first time this calendar year.
Auction volumes were similar to the previous week and slightly lower than last year.
U.S. interest is expected to remain strong, providing good support for feeder prices.
Cold weather and limited forage supplies will likely delay further demand for light calves.
U.S beef rises
US boxed beef prices soared on tight supply, with Choice up $7.09 US per cwt. at $221.41 and Select up $7.64 at $219. Weekly Canadian cutouts to Feb. 22 are unavailable. For the week ending Feb. 15, AAA cutouts were up $4.90 and AA rose $3.57.
The Choice-AAA spread that week narrowed to $3 from -$17 the previous week.
Montreal wholesale prices for next week’s delivery strengthened to $227-$229 per cwt.