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.
New record for steers
The Canfax average weighted steer cash price rose to a new record high of $182.28 per hundredweight, up $1.90.
That was despite a sharply lower U.S. cash market, where trade developed at U.S. $166-$168 per cwt. in Kansas and Nebraska, down as much as $6 from the previous week.
Beef movement over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday was disappointing and wholesale beef prices fell, pushing packer margins further into the red.
The basis level improved in Canada, and producers have the upper hand over packers.
American buyers again added competition in the Canadian market. Movement south was light, but U.S. buyers appeared to offer a slight premium
Alberta packers appeared a bit more aggressive on groups of longer fed cattle.
Packers were buying to fill slaughter for the last week of December or the first week in January.
Alberta fed cash-to-futures basis closed at -$7.40, close to the average for this time of year and the strongest since the beginning of September.
Canadian fed export to the United States have exceed 10,000 head in four of the past five weeks.
The tail end of the summer-placed cattle are being marketed, and there appears to be a lag before yearling volume increases.
Market-ready supply is not large, but retailers have booked most of their holiday beef needs and that should work against beef and cattle prices.
Processing margins are squeezed, and packers may have to slow the kill.
Look for the market to trade at Cdn $176-$181 for the rest of the year.
Cows well supported
Good demand meant cows were steady to $1 per cwt. higher.
D1, D2 cows ranged $120-$138 to average $127 per cwt., and D3 cows ranged $105-$121 to average $112.42.
Rail bids were $243-$248 per cwt. delivered.
Butcher bulls rallied $2.50 to average $140.38.
Weekly western Canadian non-fed slaughter to Nov. 29 surged 20 percent to 11,350 head.
Weekly exports to Nov. 22 fell 11 percent to 8,175.
Volumes should continue strong this week, but prices should be steady.
A tighter offering pushed feeder prices higher.
The Alberta auction volume fell 33 percent to 36,437 head.
Feeder steers 400-800 pounds were steady to $3 per cwt. higher, while similar weight heifers rose $3-$4.
Feeders heavier than 800 lb. saw renewed buyer interest, and prices for quality cattle rose sharply.
The weighted average steer price rose $3, and heifers rallied almost $5.50.
Weekly exports to Nov. 22 fell four percent to 15,827 head.
Weekly feeder exports have topped 15,500 head for five straight weeks.
Auction volume will dwindle the rest of the month, and prices should remain well supported, helped by end of the year buying for tax reasons.
Any large drafts of calves on offer should see keen buyer interest and price premiums.
In the United States, Choice cutout was US$254.42, down $2.71, and Select was $240.26, down $3.74
Packers have struggling to force beef prices higher and they are now losing about $120 per head.
Prices are expected to follow the seasonal downtrend, but the decline could be larger than in the past because prices are nearly 30 percent higher than a year ago.
Canadian cutouts for the week ending Nov. 28 were unavailable.