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

Fed prices rise

There was active trade last week in Alberta direct cattle sales, and strong prices pulled supplies forward. Prices were generally $1 to $5 per hundredweight higher than the previous week. Dressed prices were steady to $7 per cwt. higher, with most reported at $252 per cwt. delivered.

Fed prices last week were the highest seen since mid-July and averaged $18 per cwt. higher than the same week last year. Average steer and heifer prices finished the week up $2.33 per cwt. and $1.25 per cwt., respectively. The cattle that traded last week were scheduled for two to three-week delivery.

Western Canadian slaughter for the week ending Sept. 29 eased lower to 40,096 head. Year-to-date western fed slaughter is six percent larger at 1,464,012 head. Carcass weights on average are heavier than at this time last year. Since Sept. 1, steer carcass weights have grown 27 pounds larger.

Canadian fed-cow exports to the United States for the week ending Sept. 22 eased modestly to 8,959 head and year to date totalled 270,603 head.

The U.S. reported thin trade last week and prices steady to $1 lower than the previous week. Prices of US$110-$111 per cwt. were reported in Nebraska.

In the outlook, manageable market ready supplies are anticipated for October, but carcass weights will likely continue to trend larger. Good feedlot performance has some feedlot managers scrambling to manage weights, but supplies continue to be pulled forward. The underlying October market tone is gaining momentum.

New highs for feeders

For the week ending Oct. 5, Alberta 850 lb. steers established new annual highs. Given higher yearling bids, grass cattle from Manitoba appear to be coming west for finishing. Discounts are being noted on exposed heifers, which in some cases are trading at a $5 per cwt. discount compared to guaranteed open heifers.

Canfax is scheduled to release the Oct. 1 cattle on feed report Oct. 12. It could show another jump in 800 lb. heifer placements for September.

During fall 2017, more than 70,000 head of U.S. feeders were imported into Canada. Alberta calf prices continue to trade at a discount to the U.S., suggesting little incentive to import U.S. feeders. Safe to say fewer U.S. feeders will be fed in Canada this year compared to last.

On a cash to cash basis, Alberta 550 lb. steer calf prices are trading at a $16 per cwt. discount compared to the U.S. If this widens, it could spark export interest. Volumes have been light but there have been a few preconditioned calves on the cash market, and there is little if any premium being paid.

Cow price strengthens

In non-fed markets, D2 cow prices strengthened by C$2.50 per cwt. in a counter-seasonal move observed over the previous two weeks. D2s traded at $78-$94 to average $86.50. D3s averaged $76.92. Slaughter bull prices dropped last week to average $100.32 per cwt.

Week over week packer dressed bids were unchanged, suggesting some of the strength through commercial auction marts could be feeder cows or speculative buying interest.

Alberta D2 cows were trading at a $7.75 per cwt. premium over the U.S. utility market and were at a $23 per cwt. premium over eastern Canadian cows.

For the week ending Sept. 29, western Canadian cow slaughter volumes totalled 6,522 head, the smallest volume in six weeks. Larger non-fed supplies are still ahead. Peak slaughter doesn’t usually occur until the end of November or early December.

Beef trade eases

In U.S. beef trade, cut-out values eased modestly lower last week. Choice traded at $203.86, down from $204.71 the previous week. Select traded at $191.98, down from $192.56. U.S. steer carcass weights for the week ending Sept. 22 were only one lb. lower than the same week last year, at 896 lb.

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