Alta. feeder sale attracts 18,000 head; dryness a concern

One of the first big feeder sales of the year Aug. 10 saw 18,324 head sold by the Southern Alberta Livestock Exchange via video at Chain Lakes, Alta.

“It was kind of right on where the market was, maybe a little bit higher,” said SALE sales agent Darren Shaw.

Prices for 700 to 800 pound steers ranged from $209.25 to $220 per hundredweight and those 800 to 900 lb. traded lower at $199.75 to $207.75. Steers 900 to 1,000 lb. went for $185.50 to $199.50 and those over 1,000 lb. sold in a range of $189.50 to $194.75.

On the heifer side, 800 to 900 lb. animals off grass sold for $177 to $185.75 and those same weights off feed sold for $166 to $180.75. Heifers 900 to 1,000 lb. sold for $170 to $190 and those over 1,000 lb. sold for $170 to $179.50.

Shaw said ranchers are talking a lot about dry conditions that have affected hay yields and pasture growth. Those concerns hadn’t translated into higher feeder numbers in the sale ring as of last week, but that could be coming.

“We haven’t seen an increase in our ring sales. I think if we get another week or two of (dry and hot) weather down here in our country, we’re darn sure going to see it,” he said about southern Alberta conditions.

“For the most part everybody’s hanging in there. I think you’re going to see some calves come in September that typically come in October, but at this point in time we haven’t seen a major run on the market as far as our ring sales are concerned.”

Last week’s Canfax report said there is some early marketing of cow-calf pairs because of dry conditions in the West.

“Dry conditions continue to lead to the early marketing of pairs which are being split. Although numbers are light, freshly weaned calves are seeing strong demand. Many yearlings are also being sold ahead of schedule as producers try to manage diminishing grass conditions and take advantage of the strong market prices,” the report said.

Another SALE video auction scheduled Sept. 14 in Lethbridge is expected to market 35,000 feeder calves.

Hay yields in many regions have been below normal due to lack of moisture and prices for quality hay are rising. Lack of rainfall has also reduced cereal crop yields so some have been cut for greenfeed.

“That will be the saviour if we can get some of that greenfeed kicking around to feed some of these cows,” said Shaw.

‘There will be some bred cattle for sale this fall and where the prices are going to land and whether these guys want to own them, it just depends on the price.”

The Alberta Climate Information Service reported last week that south of Highway 16 “most areas are drier than normal, ranging from one-in-three to six-year lows, down to several small pockets of one-in-25 to 50-year lows.

“Generally south of Red Deer, precipitation has been highly variable and mostly associated with widespread, thunder storm activity, bringing localized showers and hit-and-miss moisture. Most of these areas would benefit greatly from widespread rain, as many crops are in need of moisture now,” the service said.

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