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.
Trade has been light in fed cattle with almost no interest from buyers in the United States. In the cash trade, one western Canadian packer picked up most of the cattle.
Dressed sales ranged from $268-$270 per hundredweight delivered.
Alberta dressed sales continue to trade at a premium of $10-$13 per hundredweight over the Ontario market.
A cold February and March stalled weight gains, but warmer weather has improved overall performance in feedlots. Carcass weights are large with western steers and heifers being 18-37 pounds bigger than last year. Steers weighed 922 lb. on average, and heifers averaged 854 lb. Producers have been negotiating flat bids with no weight breaks or looking to increase weight breaks from 1,000-1,025 lb. to 1,050 lb.
Feeder demand firmer
Average feeder prices firmed modestly higher this week with good demand observed on all types of cattle. Stocker calves less than 400 lb. traded in a wide range on varied quality and lot size. Steer calves from 500-600 lb. were $1.25 per cwt. lower this week, but all other calves over 400 lb. traded steady to $1.50 per cwt. higher. Big steers over 800 lb. to be placed against the fourth quarter fed market generally traded $3-$5 per cwt. higher than the previous week. Similar weight heifer prices rallied $1.50-$ per cwt. higher.
Auction volumes of 34,788 head were nearly 20 percent larger than the previous week and 72 percent greater than the same week last year.
For the week ending March 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported feeder cattle exports were down more than 20 percent compared to the previous week at 8,324 head. During the month of March, almost 33,000 head of feeders were exported to the U.S. and were one percent larger than March last year.
This week’s feeder basis strengthened to -11.61 and should gain momentum during the remainder of April. The April feeder basis has strengthened four out of the past five years. Calf prices could firm modestly next week as supplies tighten and additional pen space becomes available. Yearling prices next week are anticipated to be steady to moderately higher.
The April 1 cattle-on- feed report for Alberta and Saskatchewan showed inventories are above year ago levels at 1,009,897 head, the largest April inventory since 2011. There are 70,300 head more cattle on feed versus last year and 103,600 head more than 2017.
More dairy cattle are on feed in Western Canada, which means slower turn rates for feedlots. Some feedlots are at full capacity, and that has moderated demand for bunk replacements and in some cases removed some buyers from the market.
Heifers as a percent of total placements were just slightly above 30 percent compared to the five-year average of 31.4 percent.
Slaughter cows and bulls
Slaughter cow prices trended steady to higher this week at auction as moderate supplies were supportive. Seasonally moderate to good trim demand is positive for cow prices.
D2 prices were reported $2.26 per cwt. higher, and D3 cows traded fully steady. Dressed cow bids were reported from $175-$180 per cwt. delivered.
Butcher bull prices were modestly higher this week to average $104.44 per cwt. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter volumes for the week ending April 6 were down four percent from the previous week to 8,487 head. So far this year, western non-fed slaughter was 12 percent larger, totalling 135,114 head.
Canadian cut-out values for the week ending April 5 fell $6.96 and $5.34 per cwt. lower than the previous week for AAA and AA, respectively. The 85 percent fresh trim for the same week was $11.37 per cwt. lower but is expected to improve because of more seasonal demand.