Feed shortages could mean early fall run

WINNIPEG – After low yielding hay cuts have left Manitoba cattle producers scrambling to find hay to buy, some producers are starting to consider their options including selling earlier than usual this year.

“I would say there’s definitely concern for sure. I’m not saying it’s in dire, desperate need today, but there’s definitely concerns of feed (shortages) in areas,” said Robin Hill of Heartland Livestock Services at Virden.

Hay yields have been reported as being lower than normal, with some coming at 75 percent or even 50 percent of normal. There have also been concerns in some parts of Manitoba that producers won’t be able to get a second cut of hay.

“We have a bit more time, it’s mid-August and there’s going to be maybe some final harvest coming off some of the hay fields. But it’s getting up there, we’re getting concerned now,” said Glenn Friesen, industry development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture.

Most of the potential for hay yields is made during the first part of the summer, according to Friesen. So if there is a dry start to the growing season, as there was this year, yield potential for hay for the rest of the season is reduced. There are pockets of concern for feed shortages all over the province.

Hill is expecting there to be an earlier fall run this year, due to the feed shortages. According to Friesen, feed supplies are getting harder to come by with some producers already having locked in purchases a month ago. Hay prices are starting to creep higher.

Friesen thinks there will be an early fall run too. He has heard prices for cattle are good right now which is providing an incentive for producers to sell. However he has also heard of some producers who are trying to hold off on selling while they wait to see what hay prices do.

Prices were looking good at Manitoba auction marts for the week ended Aug. 10, according to Hill. There were three sales held in Manitoba during the week and while volumes were small due to the summer season, the market was steady.

“We’re selling feeder cattle at good money. The future markets have been fairly steady and the yearling trade is strong,” Hill said.

There was about 1,300 head sold this week at Manitoba auction marts. Feeder steers 800 to 900 pounds sold for C$155 to C$195 per hundredweight (cwt), while heifers the same weight sold at C$150 to C$184 cwt.

U.S. futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Aug. 10 settled up 0.500 U.S. cents to 149.525 U.S. cents per pound for September feeder cattle.

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