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 up
The Canfax fed steer average was $137.54, up $4.73 while heifers averaged $136.25.
All three federal packers in Alberta competed for supply.
With cash prices at the highest point in more than five weeks, negotiated cash volumes surged.
To help keep weights under control, cattle that were carried over for the past few weeks were marketed. Packer inventories will likely be in better shape but are not long bought.
Deliveries were set for the week of Oct. 23 or 30.
A few Saskatchewan cattle traded with prices comparable with Alberta. Ontario prices were nearly $6 lower than Alberta.
Carcass weights are rising seasonally and more fat is being produced. But still, 50 percent trim prices have performed well.
To put things into perspective, AAA and AA cutout values are trading mostly steady with last year while 50 percent trim prices are 211 percent higher than last year.
In 22 out of the past 30 years, fed prices have strengthened from September to October with an average increase of three percent.
September fed prices averaged $133.39 so a three percent increase would mean October prices would average $137.
The price this week reached that level so a further increase is less likely.
In the U.S., dressed sales in the north were US$1 to $3 higher than the previous week while southern regions traded $2 higher on a live basis.
Feeder steers rose C$6 per cwt. and heifers climbed almost $5.50.
Calves lighter than 500 pounds surged more than $10. Calves in this weight class are about $60 per cwt. higher than last year at this time.
Calves 500-700 lb. were up $5.50-$6.50 from the week before while feeders over 700 lb. were $1-$3 higher.
In the past five weeks, 550 lb. steer calf prices have risen almost $24.50 and 850 lb. steers gained almost $16.
With harvest wrapping up in many areas and improved shipping weather, weekly auction volumes rose 32 percent to 43,276 head. The volume is similar to a year ago.
Weekly exports to Sept. 30 totalled 2,220 head. For the year they are down 37 percent at 101,081 head.
The strong western Canadian feeder and calf market has some Alberta feedlots importing feeders from the northern U.S.
Strong demand could have prices rise again this week, but feeder offerings will now seasonally increase, limiting the upside.
Feedlot managers have prudently placed a few early cattle but remain cautious as they contemplate paying the taxman rather than assume excessive large-scale feeding risk.
Early private treaty deals for deferred delivery calves are now looking like a bargain compared to the current spot market.
Prairie on feed report
The number of head in Alberta and Saskatchewan feedlots was 634,951, up 10 percent.
The very strong basis levels kept calves and feeders in Canadian feedlots versus being exported to the U.S., which supported placement levels.
Placements in September were 202,084, up 15 percent from last year’s small total. It was the eighth month of year-over-year increases. However, they were 10 percent below the five -year averages.
Marketings in September were 167,352, steady with last year.
U.S. boxed beef prices to Oct. 12 were steady-to-stronger with Choice up 19 cents at US$197.44 per cwt. and Select up 67 cents at $189.45. That was six percent below the five-year average.
Retail Choice beef values were down three percent from August and one percent from a year ago.
It was the third consecutive month of a lower retail Choice beef value.
For the first time in 10 weeks, American steer carcasses saw a week-over-week decline. They averaged 894 lb., one lb. heavier than the five-year average.
Weekly Canadian cut-out values to Oct. 7 saw AAA rise C$1.09 to $243.58 and AA climb $1.46 to $235.09.
Canadian steer carcasses averaged 927 lb. up five lb. from the week before, but down nine lb. from last year at the same point.