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 www.canfax.ca.

Fed prices steady

Alberta direct cattle sales saw light to moderate volumes for the week ending Nov. 30 with live prices trending steady to $1.50 per hundredweight higher than last week. Finished steers averaged $150.81 per cwt., and heifers were at $150.25 per cwt. in Alberta.

Live Ontario steers ranged from $108.25-$137.10 per cwt. while heifers were $124.50-$138.80 per cwt.

Dressed sales were from $252-$253 per cwt. delivered and were $2-$5 per cwt. higher than last week.

Packer bids softened as the week progressed and a significant portion of the offering will be carried over into next week. Feedlot market-ready supplies are trending more current and steer sale volumes this week were the lowest since April with the majority of sales being heifers.

Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending Nov. 24 was 40,330, about 15 percent larger from the week previous.

So far this year western fed slaughter is six percent greater at 1,773,851 head. Steer carcass weights for the same week eased one pound lower to average 928 lb. and were three lb. heavier than the same week last year.

Feeder movement

Calf and feeder prices traded steady to lower this week.

Alberta steers at 500-600 lb. averaged $214.82 per cwt., but heifers were $183.58.

This week the 550 lb. steer-heifer price spread was $31.24 per cwt., the largest spread for the end of November since 2000. Over the past six weeks, 750 lb. steer prices have dropped $19 per cwt. and are in a discount position against the U.S. market.

In 2017, prices did not bottom until the second half of December. Canadian feeder exports to the United States for the week ending November 17 totalled 4,823 head compared to 973 head in 2017 and 2,065 head in 2016.

Beef prices

The Canadian AAA cutout for the week ending Nov. 16 was $1 per cwt. lower than the previous week.

For the same time, Canadian AAA prices were at a discount of $14.16 per cwt. to the U.S. Choice. AA was priced $4.62 per cwt. lower than U.S. Select.

Canadian 85 percent fresh trim was $222 per cwt., about $2 per cwt. higher than last week.

Cow prices contracting

Last week the weekly cow slaughter was 11,483 head, the largest weekly volume since December 2013. Prices are taking a downward turn by more than 25 percent. This is in line with 2016 and 2017 when prices dropped 24 to 26 percent during the same marketing period. In 19 out of the past 25 years prices have strengthened from November to December, with the average month over month increase standing at three percent. By the end of December, D2 cow prices are expected to average in the mid to upper $70s per cwt.

In the West, D2 cows ranged from $62-$84 per cwt., while D3 cows were $55-$72 per cwt. Ontario D2 cows were $42.20-$52.45 per cwt.

Establishing new annual lows, butcher bull prices have traded lower in 11 out of the past 12 weeks. Bulls are $10 per cwt. lower than last year, while butcher cows are $13-$14 per cwt. lower.

Live cattle exports down

Live cattle exports for all classes of animals are down by three percent with about 567,538 being shipped to the U.S.

Fed cattle exports were about 75,700 head, or down 30 percent from last year. About 59,000 were steers. The five year average is 331,000 head.

Cow exports are up 15 percent, or 13,840 head, from January to September and are projected to end the year at about 145,000 head. However, this is below the five year average of 215,000.

Feeder exports were relatively strong in the first half of the year but have slowed to nine percent below last year.

Feeder imports are projected to reach 165,000 head by year end. This will be the largest feeder importation since 2001, which ended because of drought in 2002. In addition, this time around feeders and U.S. corn are arriving mostly in Western Canada.

Corn imports into Western Canada for the first three quarters are up 127 percent from last year.

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