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.
Feeder trade slow
Feeder cattle trade volumes were light across the Prairies this week. Cold weather hindered some auction sale volumes and were well below last year’s trade.
The calf and feeder market was generally weaker, but some improvement was noted in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Alberta calf prices dropped $8 per hundredweight since the start of 2018, while 850 pound steers were down $10 per cwt.
The feeder basis was strong in 2017, but it has been weakening for 2018. However, this is often the case in the first quarter of the year.
Feeder exports to the United States have picked up but are still historically very small. About 4,000 head have been exported so far this year.
In Alberta, calves in the 500-600 pound range averaged $246.50 per cwt., Saskatchewan calves were at $230 per cwt. and Manitoba averaged $224 per cwt. Ontario calves averaged $$210.43 per cwt., while British Columbia steers averaged $217.50.
Alberta steers in the 800-900 lb. range averaged $177.43 per cwt., Saskatchewan was $175.16, Manitoba was $173.20 and Ontario was $180.78. There were no reports from B.C.
Fed cattle steady
Alberta fed cattle sales trended steady this week.
Dressed trade posted a range of $270-$276 per cwt. with the majority at $274 per cwt.
Buyer interest was reported from all three Alberta packers, but competition was lacklustre.
Feedlot inventories are current, and a portion of the offering was passed and can remain on feed.
The Alberta-Nebraska cash basis was again seasonally strong, estimated at minus $8.40.
Western Canadian slaughter was steady at 27,280 head. So far this year slaughter numbers are trending eight percent higher than last year at this time. The majority graded AAA.
Total beef production is up eight percent over last year.
Cow prices down
Demand was limited for cull cows, and auction market volumes were light. Prices fell $3 from last week to average $86.79 per cwt. for the week. These prices are down $9 from the beginning of the year.
Packers have ample cow supplies, which have been supplemented by cows put on feed last fall.
Improved prices are expected in March.
D1,2 cows averaged $86.79 per cwt. in the West last week but were down in the East at $65.66 per cwt.
D3 cows averaged $75.08 per cwt. in the west while eastern prices were down to $55.72 per cwt.
Cull cows averaged $98.02 per cwt. last year, which is in line with the five year average price of $98.42. Alberta cow cull prices continue to be strongest and have been at a premium to the U.S. market.
Ontario cow prices have lagged behind partly because of a plant closure in the U.S., which removed another buyer from the mix. Ontario prices are generally $21 lower than Alberta.
Exports of cull cows and bulls are also down by 44 percent. About 6,000 head have been exported to the United States so far this year.
Beef trade steady
Canadian cut-out values for the week ending Jan. 20 traded steady with AAA down 22 cents per cwt. and AA up 31 cents.
The AAA cut-out value was $258.81 per cwt in the boxed beef trade, while AA was priced at $251.83 per cwt., up about $10 from 2017.
Prices are up from 2017 on the trimmings side, where 50 percent fresh trim was priced at $1.03 per lb. and 85 percent fresh trim was $2.51 a lb.