Canfax report

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

Fed cattle highest of year

Tight market-ready cattle and beef supplies pushed cash and Chicago cattle price sharply higher.

Fed steers in Western Canada averaged $177.42, up $2.37.

Alberta dressed sales were in the mid to upper $290s delivered. Buyers said cattle would be lifted in two to three weeks.

Cattle priced for delivery more than 30 days out were $6-$8 lower.

U.S. packers were looking for quick delivery cattle, but Canadian cattle were generally too green to be sold south.

Western Canadian steer carcass weights are 83 pounds lighter than last year, and heifers are 19 lb. lighter. That is lowering the amount of beef produced.

Weekly Canadian fed slaughter was up 15 percent, but the amount of beef produced was up only nine percent.

The lighter cattle are leading to an increase in yield grade 1 cattle. Yield grade 1 cattle as a percentage of all yield grades in Western Canada was at 37.5 percent, the highest since the end of July.

Western Canadian heifer slaughter came in just short of 20,000 head, the most since April 2014.

Early May traditionally sees the strongest basis of the year.

The market is seasonally transitioning from yearlings toward calves. With few calves and feeders exported to the United States in the last two quarters, fed supplies in Canada are expected to increase into the second half of this year.

In 23 of the past 30 years, fed prices have weakened from April to May.

In the U.S., dressed sales in the north were up US$3-$7 and in the south the live price was up $5. Fed prices were the highest since March 2016. Carcasses in the U.S. are 25-30 pounds lower than this time last year.

Cows stronger

D1, D2 cows ranged C$100-$116 to average $107.75, up 75 cents. D3 cows ranged $89-$105 to average $96.17.

Rail grade cows ranged $202-$208 delivered, up $1-$2.

Butcher bulls fell $2 to average $123.50. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter to April 22 was running seven percent ahead of last year at 124,795 head.

Exports for the year are down 28 percent at 57,297 head.

Retailers are starting to buy for the grilling season.

Non-fed supplies will seasonally tighten, supporting prices.

Feeders stronger

Strong fed prices and limit up cattle futures propelled Alberta feeder prices sharply higher.

Stocker calves jumped $8-$10, while 500-600 lb. calves rose $1-$2.

Feeders 600-800 lb. saw enhanced eastern Canadian and U.S. buying competition, and prices surged $7-$7.50. Feeders heavier than 800 lb. rose $1-$6.

The weekly auction volume surged to 24,651 head. For the year, it is up 16 percent at 494,864 head.

Favourable pasture conditions are fuelling grass cattle demand in Canada and the U.S.

Aggressive fed cattle marketings have opened up feedlot pen space, and lofty cattle futures could provide feedlot managers with profitable forward pricing opportunities.

U.S. beef stronger

U.S. Choice cutouts last week rose US$3.43 to $219.15 per cwt., and Select climbed $3.11 to $206.68.

Prices exceeded year-ago levels by two to three percent. Seasonal demand for grilling items is supporting middle meat prices.

Weekly Canadian boxed beef prices to April 22 fell with AAA down C$3.38 at $279.29 and AA down $2.89 at $268.21.

The AAA/Choice spread was at -$11.43 per cwt., weakened from +$3.98 a week ago and -$1.38/cwt. last year. The cutouts were one to two percent lower than last year, but that could change because fed cattle prices have exceeded year-ago levels.

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