Canfax report

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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 steers up slightly

The Canfax fed steer average was $137.69 per hundredweight, up only 15 cents and heifers were $136.88, up 63 cents.

Having sold many cattle the previous week, feedlots could afford to wait for better prices. Some cattle were carried over to the following week.

Most dressed sales were at $232 per cwt. delivered.

All three federally inspected Alberta slaughter plants were in the market as were American buyers.

Steer carcasses for the week to Oct. 14 fell five pounds to 922 lb.

In the U.S., steer carcasses for the week to Oct. 7 rose one lb. to 895 lb. but are well below last year.

Western Canadian slaughter for the holiday-shortened week ending Oct. 14 was down 19 percent at 33,474 head. Slaughter for the year is up five percent at 1.452 million.

Exports for the week to Oct. 7 slipped to 7,539. For the year they are up six percent.

Market-ready supply is expected to tighten into November and buyers will want inventory to carry them through the fourth quarter.

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Prices are expected to firm.

In the U.S., live sales mid-week were at US$109-$110, firming by the end of the week to $111 in the South. A few dressed sales were reported in the North late in the week at $175, steady with the previous week.

Cows rally

In a counter seasonal rally, cows have risen C$4 from the lows set in mid-September.

D1, D2 cows ranged $84-$96 to average $89.88 per cwt., up $1.88. D3 cows ranged $72-$86. Rail-grade cows ranged $172-$177.

Western cow slaughter topped 6,500 head, up 24 percent from the week before and up 22 percent from the five-year average.

Cows are staying home for slaughter. For the year, cow exports are down 31 percent.

Strong profits in the cow-calf sector should limit cow culling and although volumes going to market will seasonally increase, the numbers should be modest.

Slaughter bulls averaged $102.05 per cwt., up $1.26.

Feeders rally

Steers and heifers heavier than 900 pounds set new annual highs, rising 75 cents to $4.25 higher.

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In the past decade, there have only been two years, 2011 and 2014, when steers in this weight group set annual highs in October.

Feeder basis is very strong, with steers 850 lb. enjoying a basis of +$11.94 over the nearby feeder futures contract. It was the second-best basis in the past 10 years.

From a seller’s point of view, this would be a sell signal. Looking at the calf market, October prices are expected to average around $228-$229. That would mean that 550 lb. steer would have rallied about eight percent from September to October. That would be the largest rally for the period in 17 years.

Preconditioned steers heavier than 700 lb. saw particular strength.

Alberta steers 700-725 lb. for December-January delivery saw a weighted average price of $222.53 based at 706 lb. whereas lighter steers based at 650 lb. for the same delivery saw a weighted average price of $216.

U.S. beef stronger

U.S. boxed beef prices were Choice US$199.57, up $2.13 per cwt. and Select $190.76, up $1.31.

Weekly Canadian cut-out values to Oct. 14 were steady to lower with AAA up three cents at C$243.55 and AA down $2 at $232.97

The AAA-Choice spread narrowed from -$4.12 per cwt. to -$2.77, while the AA-Select spread widened from -$1.54 to -$3.24.

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