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.
Alberta direct cattle sales saw active trade for the week ending March 22 with weighted average prices firming $2.71 and $2.90 per hundredweight higher than the previous week for fed steers and heifers, respectively. The majority of reported sales were dressed from $265-$266 per cwt. delivered. Rail prices were $5-$6 per cwt. higher than the previous week.
With a lower dollar, interest from the United States was apparent, but overall, procurement was limited. Canadian fed cattle and slaughter cow exports to the United States as of March 5 were five percent larger than the previous week, totalling 9,990 head, and year to date were up 39 percent.
Canadian feeder cattle export volumes to the U.S. have picked up in recent weeks. Alberta calf prices are at a $10 per cwt. discount to the U.S., and feeder prices are about $1 per cwt. lower, so more lightweight stocker calves are likely being shipped into the U.S.
Basis levels remain weak, and this week the cash to futures basis weakened slightly to -$14.29 per cwt.
Fed prices stronger
Fed prices next week should gain momentum with good demand anticipated from both sides of the border.
Robust western Canadian fed slaughter continued for the week ending March 16 with volumes trending fully steady at 38,304 head. Western fed slaughter year to date is 10 percent larger at 372,520 head. Canadian steer carcass weights came down a pound from the previous week to average 915 lb., about six lb. larger than the same week last year.
Canadian feedgrain prices remain expensive, contributing to negative feeding margins for the feedlot and backgrounding segments. Lethbridge barley was going for $263-$275 per tonne, while corn was around $260 per tonne.
Calf and lightweight stocker prices are trading at annual highs while heavier feeder prices are hovering around annual lows.
Alberta steers weighing 500-600 lb. averaged $225 per cwt. while heifers were $190 per cwt. Ontario steers in the same weight class averaged $196.74 and heifers were $170.37.
The heavier weight Alberta steers weighing 800-900 lb. were $176.73, and heifers averaged $161.33. Ontario was further behind with steers around $163.28 and heifers averaged $147 per cwt.
Butcher cow prices have rebounded and established new annual highs, averaging slightly less than $88 per cwt. for D2 cows.
On a cash to cash basis, Alberta cow prices are trading at a $2-$3 per cwt. premium over the U.S. utility market.
Even with historically large slaughter cow volumes, Canadian trim prices continue to perform well. For the first time this year, 85 percent trim prices are above last year and higher than the five-year average, whereas cow prices are lower than last year and the five-year average. Rail prices were up slightly but did not strengthen as much as prices through the auction ring.
Bred cows are trading between $1,200 and $2,200 each, while pairs are being offered at $1,675-$2,600. Price is up about $200 from last week.