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 www.canfax.ca.

Fed prices low

Alberta fed steer prices established new annual lows last week, while Ontario prices traded $3 shy of their annual highs.

There have been three other times in Western Canada over the past 12 years where first quarter lows were established during March: 2006, 2013 and 2016. Trading $1-$2.50 lower, it was the second consecutive week where fed prices were below year ago levels.

Buying interest has been mixed over the past month with only two out of three western Canadian packers actively bidding on cattle. All reported cash sales traded locally. Cattle that were bought last week were being scheduled for two to three week delivery.

U.S. packer interest was noted with top end bids reported at US$214. Bids were working back to the low $160s on a live basis and comparable with local sales.

For the week ending March 17, western Canadian fed slaughter volumes totalled more than 36,500 head. Heifers accounted for slightly more than half of the weekly slaughter volume and should seasonally peak over the next two weeks. More than 73 percent of cattle in Western Canada graded AAA and Prime, the highest percentage in more than a year.

Canadian fed cattle exports totalled 6,308 head, the largest weekly export volume since early December.

Cow, bull prices rise

Prices for D1 and D2 cows, as well as slaughter bulls, were up last week. The cows averaged $90.38 per hundredweight, up $1.38 from the previous week. Bulls averaged $106.36 per cwt., up $2.41.

Slaughter cows saw competitive demand on a moderate offering. Dressed bids were reported around $177-$183 delivered. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending March 17 was three percent larger than the previous week at 8,843 head.

Year to date western non-fed slaughter was seven percent larger, totalling 96,253 head. Canadian non-fed exports to the U.S. for the week ending March 10 eased modestly to 2,706 head, and year to date were 40 percent lower, totalling 23,014.

Feeders stall

The Alberta feeder complex stalled last week, and prices eased $5-$6 lower than the previous week. Muddy feedlot conditions may have encouraged a few feedlot managers to put buyers on hold until things dry out.

Grass type steers from 400-700 pounds traded sharply $4-$4.50 lower than the previous week, and similar weight heifer calves were $3.75-$7.75 lower. An ample offering of large feeders heavier than 700 lb. saw prices slip $2.50-$7 lower than the previous week.

The weekly Alberta feeder index fell $6.27 lower to average $173.94. Weekly auction volumes were 11 percent smaller than the previous week at 35,251 head. Year to date auction volumes are 10 percent lower than a year ago, totalling 315,105 head. Feeder exports to the U.S. for the week ending March 10 were modestly larger than the previous week at 6,042 head and year to date were 52 percent larger, totalling 32,304 head.

More sun and less snow in the weeks to come should help revitalize interest in calves.

Cow-calf pairs last week traded at $1,550-$3,450.

Meat trade

U.S. Choice and Select trade was up over the previous week with Choice at US$225.21 and Select at $218.02. Cut-out demand was generally light to moderate on a light to moderate offering.

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