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 rise
Cash cattle gained for the eighth consecutive week, but the seasonal peak might be getting near.
The Canfax weighted average fed steer price was $174.40 per hundredweight, up $3.74, and heifers were $174.27, up $4.79.
Most of the cattle on offer were yearlings, but a few calves are starting to show up. These calves are being sold a month ahead of schedule.
There was a divide in pricing with more paid for longer-fed cattle and less for short-fed calves.
Both big federally inspected Alberta plants were buying, and they wanted quick delivery. Most were set for delivery on the week of April 10.
The strong prices and the best cash-to-futures basis level since June 2015 encouraged feedlots to sell.
Weekly fed exports totalled 8,721 head, the most this year. It is rare for weekly totals to get that large in March.
The U.S. cash market was a little weaker, and beef prices were sharply lower, so Canadian packers will be reluctant to bid strongly this week and will more likely scale back the kill pace.
Still, fed price averages have risen into April in eight of the past 10 years.
In the United States, dressed sales in Iowa and Nebraska were US$204-$210 per cwt., down $6 from the previous week. Live trade in Texas and Kansas was down $2 at $128.
D1, D2 cows ranged C$90-$112 to average $104.83 per cwt., up $1.21.
D3 cows ranged $87-$99 to average $93.13, up $2.50.
Rail grade cows ranged $199-$204. Slaughter bulls were $125.68, up $3.31.
Weekly slaughter to March 25 rose 10 percent to 7,391.
Non-fed exports to March 18 fell 2,549. Exports for the year are down 32 percent.
Hamburger prices have fallen, but grilling demand is good.
On-feed slaughter cow supply has tightened.
The average feeder steer price rose $2.35, and heifers climbed $3.50 per cwt.
Calves lighter than 500 pounds saw strong buying interest and prices rose $3-$6 per cwt.
Grass-type steers 500-800 lb. rose $1.50-$3, while heifers rose $2.75-$3.25. Steers heavier than 800 lb. rose modestly.
Heifers heavier than 900 lb. fetched interest from those who want to breed them. Prices were $4.50 stronger.
Auction volume was down six percent from the previous week but was up from last year. Exports to March 18 surged to 4,879 head.
Auction volumes have been larger than usual for most of the year.
However, exports for the year are down 37 percent.
Feed stocks are getting used up, leading to a flush of background feeders going to market.
Offerings at auction are expected to moderate.
Bred cows fetched $1,400-$2,200 per head.
U.S. beef prices have peaked with Choice down US$7.07 at $215.21 and Select down $7.72 at $208.05.
The American market-ready fed cattle supply should start to increase, but it will coincide with the usual increase in beef demand as barbecue season approaches.
U.S. carcass weights are about 22 lb. lighter than this time last year.
Canadian cut-out prices were not available.
The February Canadian consumer price index showed beef prices were down 4.2 percent from last year at the same time, pork down 3.5 percent and chicken down .5 percent.