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 market lower
The Canfax weighted average steer price was $170.89, down $3.51, and heifers were $167.89, down $6.58.
Lower U.S. cash and futures markets weighed down Canadian prices as the market hit a slow patch. Prices are not expected to pick up until after Easter when grilling season will set in.
In Canada, a diverse offering of yearlings and calves of various quality traded in a wide price range. Dressed sales ranged $280-$287.50 per hundredweight, but most were at $286 delivered.
Volumes were light to moderate, and both major Alberta packers procured cattle.
The Alberta cash-to-futures basis was strong at +$11.68.
Weekly western Canadian slaughter to April 1 was steady at 34,176 head.
Steer carcass weights fell 10 pounds and were a whopping 32 lb. lighter than the same week last year. Weekly fed exports to March 25 slipped to 7,237 head. This year exports are down six percent at 72,645 head.
In the United States, trade had not developed in the south at week’s end. In the north, there were a few dressed sales at US$200 per cwt., down $4 to $5.
U.S. beef cuts were sharply lower.
D1, D2 cows ranged C$95-$113 to average $105.10 per cwt. up 27 cents. D3 cows ranged $85-$100 to average $91.60.
Slaughter bulls averaged $125.04, down 64 cents.
April is often strong for non-fed markets. Current prices are the highest in more than a year.
Alberta prices are $21 per cwt. stronger than the Ontario market and $14 stronger than the U.S. market.
Non-fed volumes through commercial auctions have been fairly light, but the slaughter volume is surprisingly large at more than 7,000 in each of the past two weeks.
However, cow marketings in the first 12 weeks of the year have been only 149,000 head because of much smaller exports. The next lowest was 2015 at 156,600, and the five-year average is almost 173,500 head.
Feeder demand solid
The prairie auction volume has been brisk.
On average, feeder steers were down 12 cents per cwt., while heifers were down $1.36.
Demand for grass cattle remained strong and 550, 650 and 750 lb. weight groups set new high prices.
Those who bought calves in the fall of 2016 are likely in a profitable situation. That is prompting more interest this year in forward pricing yearlings off grass.
The average rally in the past 10 years for 850 lb. steers from first half lows to second half highs is 21 percent. With this year’s low assumed at $160, a 21 percent increase would put second half highs in the low $190s.
The current forward price for summer-early fall delivery is in the $170s or an eight-10 percent increase.
Weekly exports of 9,147 were highest this year.
More heifers are going to auction.
Bred cows ranged $1,470-$2,500 per head. Bred heifers ranged $1,450-$2,250 and cow-calf pairs were $2,050-$2,875.
US beef down
U.S. boxed beef Choice on April 6 fell US$7.31 to $207.90 per cwt., while Select fell $7.77 to $200.28 .
Weekly Canadian boxed beef prices to March 25 saw AAA rise C$1.74 to $278.83 and AA rise $7.07 to $275.34.
The AAA has been at a discount to Choice since the first week of March when the U.S. market rallied sharply.
The AAA-Choice spread is now at -$18.70, compared to -$7.25 last year and the three-year average of -$11.58.