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
Chicago live cattle futures rallied to an 18 month high, and early cash fed trade in the United States appeared at stronger prices, but the Canadian market advanced only cautiously.
The fed steer weighted average was $172.08 per hundredweight, up $1.19.
The heifer trade was too light to generate an average.
Dressed bids were about $290 per cwt. delivered.
Feedlot selling interest was limited, and some bids were passed.
Cattle were to be picked up in two to three weeks.
Producers have been negotiating delivery for 30 days or more with prices for the second half of May delivery at a sizeable discount to quick delivery cattle. Fed calves intended for May are being marketed early.
Calves placed on feed early last fall have break-evens around $130 per cwt., so it is worth selling them now rather than waiting to put on a few more pounds.
For a second consecutive week, more heifers were slaughtered in Western Canada than steers.
Export volumes in March were up 20 percent from a year ago and 35 percent larger than 2015.
With more calves entering the slaughter mix, carcass weights should continue to decline. Slaughter would be reduced because of the Easter holiday.
In the U.S., light dressed trade developed at prices US$5-$8 per cwt. higher in the north. In the south, live prices were up $2.
The U.S. was looking at a large weekly cattle slaughter.
The Chicago market rallied on the discount of futures to the cash market.
D1, D2 cows ranged $100-$114 to average $106.13, up $1.03. D3 cows ranged $86-$104 to average $96.25 per cwt., up $4.50.
Rail grade cows ranged $201-$206, up $2. Butcher bulls averaged $123.22, down $2.
Western Canadian slaughter to April 8 was steady at 7,171.
Exports to April 1 rose to 4,318 head. For the year they are down 29 percent at 49,243 head.
Feeders mostly strong
Feeder steers and heifers were up on average about $2.50, but stocker calves lighter than 500 pounds were the exception, falling $1 on reduced quality.
Heifers 400-700 lb. rose $2-$3, while similar weight steers traded $2.50-$4.50 higher.
Steers heavier than 700 lb. rose $2-$3. Heifers over 700 lb. saw broad interest from feeders and breeders, and prices rose $2-$5.
Eastern Canadian and Americans buyers helped support heavy feeder prices.
Auction volumes fell 14 percent but were significantly larger than a year ago.
Exports to April 1 fell to 7,180 head. Exports are down 31 percent for the year.
Grazers are now competing head to head with feedlots for 500-700 lb. cattle. Recent large March feedlot placements should moderate demand but feeder supplies will tighten and maintain price support.
Bred cows ranged $1,500-$2,400 per head. Cow-calf pairs ranged $1,975-$3,625.
Cattle on feed
The number of cattle in western Canadian feedlots April 1 was down four percent at 906,273.
Feedlot capacity use is improving. On Jan. 1 the number was eight percent below the year-ago number. Placements in March were 185,763, up 15 percent.
Marketings in March were 135,750, up four percent. Other disappearance was 15,696, down 11 percent. Fed cattle supplies will increase into the second half of the year.
U.S. beef mixed
U.S. Choice was up US$2.23 at $210.13 per cwt., while Select was down $1.64 at $198.64.
In the past five years, except 2016, cut-out values increased the week after the Easter holiday.
Canadian boxed beef prices for the week ending April 8 were down C$5.20 on AAA at $276.14 and down $7.35 on AA at $265.57.
The AAA-AA spread usually widens in the spring as demand for grilling items strengthens.