Western Canadian cattle market starting to strengthen

WINNIPEG (CNS Canada) – Cattle prices are starting to rise on the Prairies following a rebound for cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, according to an Alberta-based analyst.

“(In) the last two, three weeks, (prices have become) pretty good finally. We really had a meltdown in the futures two, three weeks ago, (due to) trade worries and fed cattle prices,” said Brian Perillat, manager and senior analyst at Canfax.

In Manitoba, at the province’s major auction marts, prices were higher for the week ended April 27. Feeder steers, 700 to 800 pounds, sold for as high as C$201.00 per hundredweight (CWT), compared to the previous week where they sold for as high as C$179.25 per cwt.

With the Canadian dollar weaker it has helped support cattle prices. The dollar ended the week at 77.78 U.S. cents, down 0.79 U.S. cents from the previous week.

“The overall market tones have been stronger and then you can add in the lower dollar. The last week or so it’s dropped almost two cents, so that’s pretty big,” Perillat said.

Volumes of cattle are also starting to increase. According to Perillat, during the spring the number of fat cattle up for sale usually rises.

“We’re kind of in-between for another month or so, in-between yearlings and just starting to see the calf volumes pick up. But we’ll see more volumes come forward straight up thorough till August, even till September possibly,” he said.

There was more than 5,900 head of cattle run through Manitoba’s major auction mart for the week ended April 27. That was less than the previous week where more than 6,700 head were sold.

But as the volume increases prices will start to drop. The market usually comes under pressure and prices weaken as the auction marts head into the summer season.

Demand for exports is good currently though. In Manitoba there is interest from buyers in Ontario and the United States, however demand from the west is waning. A large fall run has Lethbridge feedlots full.

“They’re not coming west as fast. Guys (have) got to wait till they start marketing calves to place more feeders,” Perillat said.

The market could feel pressure soon though, due to rising feed costs. Lethbridge feedlots are grappling with a tight feed grain supply, which is driving costs up.

“With the later spring and that we might see a little more barley getting seeded. So that’s not all bad for the cattle feeding side of things. But prices are still relatively high,” Perillat said.

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