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.
Record for fed cattle
Fed cattle prices hit new record highs last week and are $5 per hundredweight higher than a month ago.
Fed steers averaged $150.53 per cwt., up $2.53, and heifers were $149.063, up $4.27.
Strong prices encouraged feedlots to sell early and keep their inventory current.
The Alberta-Saskatchewan show list was the smallest this year. Packer-owned supply is tightening, and there was good interest in the cash market.
Some feedlots were negotiating when packers would take the cattle because they could use the extra days on feed.
The Alberta cash-to-futures basis greatly improved to +84 cents, while the Alberta-Nebraska cash-to-cash basis was -$10.18, reflecting the extremely strong basis levels in the United States.
The strong basis will likely reduce exports to 7,500 per week from 10,000.
Fed supplies should remain manageable and, with more calves entering the slaughter mix, carcass weights should remain below 2012 and 2013.
Cow price rises
D1, 2 cows ranged $100-$116 per cwt. to average $108, up more than $1 thanks to strong hamburger demand. D3 prices ranged $86-$104 to average $96.33, steady with the previous week.
Butcher bull prices averaged $113.46 per cwt., up $1.
Weekly western Canadian non-fed slaughter to May 3 fell one percent to 4,870 head.
Weekly exports to April 26 fell 25 percent to 4,833.
Feeder prices soar
Feeder prices have skyrocketed to new highs this spring.
Central Alberta 850 pound feeders averaged $180 per cwt. in early May, up $56 per cwt. from last year or $475 per head.
Anticipated tight feeder supplies sparked buyer interest and strong prices last week.
Grass types weighing 400-600 lb. rose $3-$5.
Steers 600-700 lb. were slightly higher while heifers rose $3.75.
Feeders 700-900 lb. rose $1.75-$4.
Feeder steers on average rose $2.50 and heifers were up $3.50.
Alberta auction volume fell 24 percent to 17,656 head.
Weekly feeder exports to April 26 fell 26 percent to 8,388 head.
Average 550 lb. steers placed against the December live contract should be able to break even.
Reduced feeder offerings in the next few weeks will continue to support prices.
U.S. beef down
U.S. boxed beef prices fell, with Choice down $4.69 US at $225.65 per cwt. and Select down $8.47 at $212.51.
Larger slaughter in the previous week increased beef supplies while demand remained light to moderate.
The cutout is $20-$21 higher than last year, but negotiated sales volume has been the same as a year ago since April.
Canadian prices are unavailable.
Prairie feedlot report
The number of cattle on feed in Saskatchewan and Alberta feedlots was up eight percent over the previous year at 960,178 head.
The report surprised the trade, which expected little change in on-feed numbers.
Placements in April were 127,840, down five percent from last year in the same month.
Marketings in April were 136,219, up five percent.
Ample market-ready supplies and scarce feeder supplies will quickly put cattle-on-feed numbers in line with a year ago and will likely be below a year ago later in 2014.