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 rise
Weighted average steer prices were $145.65 per hundredweight, up 41 cents, in light trade, and heifers averaged $146.02, up $1.14.
There was better competition between Canadian buyers, but U.S. interest was light.
The show list was a mix of clean-up yearlings and a few terminal sort heavy calves.
The cash-to-futures basis weakened $3.75 to -$14.97.
Sale volume rose 18 percent to 12,246 head, which was up 32 percent over the same week last year.
Weekly western Canadian fed slaughter to April 12 rose 15 percent to 38,161 head.
Weekly fed cattle exports to April 5 rose two percent to 12,075 head.
Cattle continued to be marketed a little early.
Packers have a comfortable supply, but few cattle are up to desirable specifications.
Packers will start bidding on a carcass basis as more calves enter the market, and landed feedlot prices are expected to soften.
A few more calving culls were available on the butcher cow market, but volumes are generally manageable.
Butcher cows were mixed as D3 prices gained on D1, D2 values.
D1, D2 cows ranged $97-$111 per cwt. to average $103.88, down 62 cents from the week before. D3 cows ranged $87-$100 to average $93.50, up $1.50.
Alberta cows have been trading at a $5-$6 premium over the eastern Canadian market.
There has been some interest in young, feeder-type cows. They are trading at $95-$110 per cwt.
Feeders push higher
Competition for bunk replacement and grass cattle is strong and prices moved to new record highs.
Some operations that would typically keep cattle on grass for sale in the fall are instead taking advantage of strong cash prices and marketing their feeders now.
Yearling supplies this fall could be snug if this trend continues.
Heifer marketings have increased as producers select their breeding herd. Commercial auction facilities have reported that heifer volumes are more than double the number of steers.
The steer-heifer price spread appears to be narrowing, especially on calves and light stockers, even with larger heifer volumes.
Feeder export volumes have been significantly larger in the first quarter of this year than in recent years. Exports last week reached 17,000 head for the third consecutive week, which has to be a concern for Canadian packers down the road.
These strong exports mean feeder basis levels will likely strengthen further in the weeks ahead.
Beef price turnaround
The wholesale Choice beef cutout April 17 rose to $225.88 US per cwt, while Select cutout was $215.43.
The cutout has likely bottomed.
Packers’ operating margins are negative, which means they will likely try to push wholesale prices higher as we move into the spring grilling season.
Canadian cut-out values for the week ending April 12 fell, with AAA down $1.89 at $236.07 Cdn per cwt. and AA down $4.25 at $232.23.
Prairie cattle on feed
There were 984,112 cattle on feed in Alberta and Saskatchewan feedlots April 1, up eight percent from the same time last year.
The feedlot number might have increased more if it was not for the large exports to the United States.
Placements into feedlots in March were 160,288, down nine percent from last year at the same time and down 16 percent from the five year average.
Marketings in March were 144,488, up 12 percent from last year but one percent less than the five year average.
Other disappearance was 12,363, less than half of last year’s total.