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 price falls
The Alberta fed market was unable to gain momentum even with the strong market tone.
The Alberta weighted average fed steer price was $167.91, down $2.66 and heifers were $167.25, down $2.56.
American packers were short of supply and feedlots, enjoying a lot of market power because of early selling and light carcass weights, were able to drive U.S. cash prices higher.
The light carcass weights in the U.S. are the equivalent of taking about 16,500 head off the weekly slaughter roll.
The Chicago futures market shook off the previous week’s slightly bearish U.S. cattle on feed report. Live futures rose the limit up June 1.
But the Alberta fed market lacked competition and local feedlots were unable to cash in.
One Alberta packer was procuring for immediate delivery while the other was buying four to five weeks out. This resulted in a wide trading range with dressed sales at $275-$284 delivered.
Americans bought a few cattle on a formula deal but no cash sales to the U.S. were reported.
The Alberta cash-to-futures basis softened to -$2.34. For the first time this year it was weaker than the five-year average for this time of year.
The Alberta cash to Nebraska cash basis widened to -$16.38, the weakest in more than a year.
Western Canadian slaughter for the four-day week ending May 27 was down 20 percent at 31,313 head. So far this year, slaughter is up six percent.
Weekly fed exports to May 20 fell 31 percent to 6,188 head. For the year, exports are down eight percent.
Feedlot supplies remain current and carcass weights are below year ago.
In the U.S., most live trade was at US$136-$137. Dressed sales in the north were at $215-$216 and were generally up $6-$8 from the previous week.
More cows and bulls were at auction.
An uptick in non-fed numbers is common for this time of year as herds are assessed and cull cows are sent to town before pasture turn out.
Volumes are expected to moderate into the second half of June.
D1, D2 cows ranged $105-$119 to average $111.80 per cwt., up $1.20. D3 cows ranged $90-$106 to average $99.67.
Railgrade cows ranged $205-$210.
Fed and non-fed prices have been moving in opposite directions lately.
Fed live prices have dropped $23 per cwt. from the highs and are now at a discount against the U.S. market. Whereas cow prices set new highs and remain at a premium to the U.S.
From their winter lows, Alberta cows have rallied 20 percent and Ontario 35 percent.
Feeder market strong
Steers 550 pounds were highest since March last year.
Alberta 550 lb. calves cash prices were at a $19 premium over the U.S. cash market. It was the best premium since July 2012.
The strong Canadian price has dried up exports.
Buyers from Eastern Canada continue to show good interest on heifers heavier than 900 lb.
These heavy heifers are going onto feed for slaughter.
Even with the added eastern competition, the 900 lb. steer-heifer spread has not narrowed compared to last year.
The forward calf market was lightly tested. Cash prices are stronger than deferred.
Over the past 30 days, there has been little change in forward delivery prices for yearlings off grass.
The steer-heifer price spread remains narrow for late summer with 1,000 lb. heifers trading only $7-$8 lower compared to steers of the same weight.
Cow-calf pairs were $1,900 to $3,550.
U.S. beef weakens
U.S. boxed beef prices dipped after the Memorial Day long weekend. Choice was down 53 cents at US$245.58 per hundredweight and Select was down $1.76 at $217.22.
The Choice-Select spread widened to $28.36 from $27.13.
Canadian boxed beef prices for the week ending May 27 were unavailable.