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 set records
Fed cash prices set record highs in the United States and Canada.
Alberta fed steers averaged $145.55 per hundredweight, up $3.74, and heifers were $144.83, up $2.62.
There is good demand for available supplies.
Canadian fed export volumes have kept pace with last year, while western Canadian steer slaughter is up three percent from last year and heifer slaughter is up 14 percent.
Strengthening basis levels encouraged feedlots to sell cattle, and the show list was mainly cleaned up.
The Alberta fed cattle cash-to-futures basis closed the week at -$16.53, similar to last year’s level.
A large portion of the Canadian fed cattle traded south were formula priced.
Fed exports have been increasing and are now around 10,000 a week.
Hook space at packers is becoming an issue now that more cattle are headed south, which could explain why U.S. buying interest on a negotiated cash basis has been light.
Cash-to-futures basis levels have tended to strengthen from March to April over the past few years. Even so, basis is likely to remain weaker than the five-year average of -$8.19.
Cow price up
D1, D2 cow prices ranged $90-$112 per cwt. to average $102, up almost $2.50. D3 prices were $84-$98 to average $90.60, up more than $3.50.
Rail bids rose to $197-$202 delivered. Butcher bulls rose more than $3 to average $105.30.
Weekly western Canadian non-fed slaughter to March 22 jumped 26 percent to 6,696 head.
Weekly non-fed exports to March 15 rose nine percent to 7,094 head.
Demand for ground meat should increase as grilling season approaches.
Feeder rally continues
Average steer prices rose almost $2 per cwt., and average heifer prices climbed almost $3.25.
Steer calves lighter than 500 pounds were steady, while heifers surged $3.75.
Stocker calves traded about $60 higher than the same week last year.
Grass type feeders 600-800 lb. rallied $3.75-$4, which is up $50-$60 over last year.
Feeders heavier than 800 lb. were steady to $3 higher.
Alberta auction volumes were seasonally lower, falling 27 percent to 29,742 head.
Weekly feeder exports to March 15 fell eight percent to 11,672 head.
Prices should be supported as supply seasonally moderates, but stronger feed grain prices might begin to limit the price upside.
Beef still strong
The U.S. Choice cutout dipped to $239.25 US, down $2.32, and Select fell to $231.21, down $3.56 retreating from records set the previous week.
Fed supplies should remain manageable, but will likely start to increase because weekly U.S. slaughter is anticipated to surpass 600,000 head.
Increased kill will likely make it hard for processors to pass on higher beef prices.
Canadian cutouts to March 22 are not available, but AAA rose $16.02 to $238.61 per cwt. Cdn between Feb. 21 and March 14, while AA rose $18.48 to $239.89.
Canadian prices failed to keep pace with the U.S. market.
Cold weather this spring is expected to stall seasonal demand for middle meats.
Montreal wholesale prices for delivery this week fell to $262-$264 per cwt.