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 strong
Northern U.S. live fed prices have fallen $6 over the past four weeks, while Canadian fed prices continued to trade at historical highs.
This has caused the Alberta-Nebraska cash-to-cash basis to approach the strongest level this year.
U.S. interest in the cash market was limited.
Canadian producers are marketing the last of their yearlings, and calves have yet to come forward.
Feedlots say their focus is to deliver on contracts and have no additional cattle to sell on the grid or the cash market.
Fed steers were $146.25 per hundredweight in light trade, up 60 cents. Heifer trade was too small to determine a price.
The Alberta fed cash-to-futures basis strengthened to close at -$12.82. Weekly fed exports to April 12 totalled 12,299 head, the most in nearly a year.
Retailers should be in the midst of covering beef needs for Mother’s Day and Victoria Day.
The cash-to-futures basis historically strengthens moving into May, and this year will be no different. The June live cattle contract is trading at a about a $7 discount compared to the spot contract.
Basis levels are anticipated to be slightly weaker in the first half of May than the five-year historical average of -$4.45.
D1, D2 cows ranged $98-$112 per hundredweight to average $104.75, up 88 cents, and D3s ranged $85-$100 to average $91.83, down $1.67.
Rail bids were generally steady, ranging from $198-$203 delivered.
Butcher bull prices jumped $6 higher to average $112.61.
Weekly western Canadian non-fed slaughter to April 19 fell 31 percent to 4,137 head. Weekly non-fed exports to April 12 fell four percent to 6,284.
Prices are expected to remain contra-seasonally strong.
Feeder prices rise
Light stocker calf prices rose $2-$3 per cwt.
Grass type 400-700 pound feeders saw strong interest, pushing average prices $4-$6 higher.
Feeders 700-800 lb. rose moderately, and feeders heavier than 800 lb. rose $2.75-$5.75.
Weekly Alberta auction volumes fell 14 percent to 19,793 head.
The rally was primarily supported by strong North American demand for grass cattle.
These heated feeder prices have narrowed profit margins in the feedlot and on pasture, which could limit price upside.
Grass weights may have plateaued seasonally, and prices might be steady while larger feeders may still have enough seasonal momentum to rise slightly.
The market was supported by demand from Eastern Canada and the United States.
Weekly feeder exports to April 12 fell 28 percent to 13,026 head, but volume was up 27 percent from last year.
U.S. boxed beef prices last week rose as buyers geared up to meet May holiday beef demand. Choice was up $10.05 at $233.80 US per cwt. and Select was up $7.60 at $222.07.
Weekly Canadian cut-out values to April 19 saw AAA steady at $236.13 Cdn per cwt. and AA up $1.70 at $233.93.
Briskets established a new record high of $205.05, which was 62 percent higher than last year. Brisket prices have been exceptionally strong on both sides of the border since the beginning of the year.
Cattle on feed
There were 10.86 million cattle in U.S. feedlots in April, down one percent from a year earlier.
Placements in March were surprisingly low at 1.795 million, down five percent from a year ago. Analysts had expected a 0.8 percent increase, and so the news supported cattle futures.
Marketings in March were down four percent to 1.66 million. Analysts had expected a drop of 3.6 percent.