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.
Active trade last week saw the Canfax weighted average fed steer price increase by $3 per hundredweight compared to the week before Christmas. Fed market trade during Christmas week was too light to establish a trend.
Most dressed sales last week were from $266-$268 per cwt. delivered. The weighted average price was just over $160 per cwt., the highest since the start of May last year.
Alberta fed prices continue to trade at a discount to the Nebraska market. Feedlots are generally current and with the warmer weather, cattle are carrying extra tag, which will impact dressing percentage.
The previous two weeks were quiet in Canadian feeder cattle markets. Auctions were closed and there was only a light test on the calf and feeder market. The early year market tone was steady to a little stronger on heavy weight feeders compared to the end of December.
The cull cow market has been mostly direct sales to packers, with rail bids rising through the holidays. Dressed cull cow bids in Alberta moved up to the mid $160s per cwt. delivered last week.
In the United States, dressed sales in the north started out last week US$1 to $2 per cwt. lower than the previous week but were fully steady with the earlier Nebraska average of $195 per cwt. delivered.
Recent winter weather impeded cattle shipments, and feedlot conditions have deteriorated. Carcass weights and performance were expected to decline, and higher mortality rates were reported.
In the U.S. beef trade, Choice cut-out values were reported $1.19 per cwt. higher than the previous week, while Select was up $2.16. Beef retail featuring for December was strong, and fill-in business following the holidays was supportive.
Beef retail features relative to competing proteins have been steadily increasing, which should be viewed as positive news for the cattle and beef market.
Over the past three years, on average, the Choice cut-out values have declined from the first half of January to the second half of the month. Over those three years, the average decline from the first half to the second half of January stands at 1.6 percent. January is traditionally not a strong demand time frame for the protein markets in general as consumers focus on paying Christmas bills.