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 higher
Fresh highs for the year were posted with the steer average at $163.22 per hundredweight, up $2.79, and heifers at $161.87.
Fed steer prices in the first quarter have rallied only four percent from the low point this year.
Over the past decade, the rally in the first quarter has on average been 12 percent. That is unlikely to happen this year, but prices could still rise during the rest of March.
Cattle bought last week were set for delivery the week of March 13.
There have been reports that packers are taking longer to lift cattle than initially stated.
Alberta fed cash prices have recently moved back to a discount against the Nebraska market.
Cash-to-cash basis levels usually weaken into March, and the month usually has the weakest basis of the year.
Weekly exports totalled 7,209 head, which is the most this year and the first time this year that exports topped the volume seen last year at the same time.
Retailer and food service segments should be in the midst of procuring early spring beef needs.
Cow slaughter volumes are expected to moderate, and additional hours could be committed to the A grade slaughter in the coming weeks.
Non-fed volumes tightened, helping to lift prices.
D1, D2 cows ranged $88-$105 to average $97.70, up $1.30. D3 cows ranged $77-$94 to average $86.
Rail grade cows ranged $182-$187, up $1.
Butcher bull prices rose $2.50 to average $110.70.
Non-fed slaughter for the year is running five percent ahead of last year. Exports are running 33 percent below a year ago.
Additional slaughter cow supplies should begin to hit the market as spring calving intensifies.
Stockers calves lighter than 500 pounds were steady to higher.
Feeder steers 500-800 lb. traded $1-$3 higher while heifers were steady to $1.75 higher.
Large feeder steers heavier than 800 lb. rose $1.25-$2.25, while heifers were steady to $1.50 higher.
Weekly sale volumes of 35,207 head were up two percent from the previous week.
Auction volumes are expected to peak around the middle of the month.
Auction volumes are running 11 percent ahead of last year.
Feeder exports are running nine percent behind last year.
Marketings should build over the next couple of weeks, but volumes will remain manageable.
Demand for cattle to put on grass and for feedlot replacements should continue.
Calf prices should rise, and larger feeders are anticipated steady to a little higher.
U.S. boxed beef prices rallied sharply with Choice up US$12.16 at $208.35 and Select up $10.89 at $203.72.
With these sharply higher prices, the cutout is now four to five percent below year ago levels compared to being 13 percent below in early February.
Weekly Canadian cut-out values to Feb. 18 on AAA rose C$4.86 to $261.50 and AA climbed $2 to 253.03.
The AAA-Choice spread strengthened to +$14 from +$7, but the spread is expected to narrow in the coming weeks because of strong U.S. prices.