Manitoba cattle prices decent ahead of fall run

With cattle sales in Manitoba expecting to pick up in the next few weeks as the slow summer season turns into the fall run, prices are looking good.

“(Prices are) pretty darn strong given feed costs are quite high and the dollar’s slowly creeping up, so you’ve got to keep an eye on that. But calves and feeders’ (prices look) really strong,” said Brian Perillat, manager and senior analyst at Canfax.

There were five sales held in Manitoba during the week ended Aug. 24. Many of the cattle markets that didn’t host sales will be returning to their weekly sale schedule in the upcoming weeks.

There was approximately 3,200 cattle sold in Manitoba during the week, compared to the previous week where the three sales sold 1,200 head. According to Perillat, quite a few yearlings have been making their way to market due to the feed shortages caused by dry conditions across the Prairies.

The fed cattle market is starting to see some pressure, according to Perillat. Prices have dropped back to summer lows, which were hit earlier in the year during late June.

“Cows have been under pressure a little bit as of late too. Quite a few cows around, been slaughtering a lot of cows all year long,” he said.

Cattle numbers are down overall across Canada. In the livestock estimates report from Statistics Canada, released on Aug. 23, there were 12.4 million cattle nationally as of July 1. This is down 0.8 per cent from the previous year. Total cattle slaughter numbers rose 6.1 per cent to 1.7 million head for the first six months of the year. Exports of Canadian cattle gained 0.9 per cent to 342,000 head.

“(The report isn’t) really surprising… with the dry conditions (now)…we’re probably going to see the Canadian herd shrink a little bit more, less heifers around and a few less cows,” Perillat said.

Heading into October and the fall run Perillat said the market should come under the usual seasonal pressure. However that could be affected this year by the feed shortages, which are causing some producers to sell cattle earlier than usual.

“(The fall run) could be a little bit more challenging this year, just with the bigger volume and if feedlots haven’t been that profitable. The overall higher feed costs usually take a bite out of calf prices,” Perillat said, adding that prices are still looking good for calves currently, as they are sitting at more than C$2 per pound.

Buying interest also should be good for the fall run from both sides of the border. There have been quite a few cattle as of late being bought and sold on both sides of the United States border. Interest in Manitoba should be good, with buyers from Ontario also in the mix.

“We aren’t seeing much of a price spread between Alberta and Manitoba either, just cause there is some decent U.S. demand as of right now anyways that’s keeping these markets well supported,” Perillat said.

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