Weekly Manitoba cattle report

Winnipeg – Good volumes moved through those Manitoba cattle auctions open during the week ended April 26, with solid prices in both the feeder and butcher markets.

The short week due to Good Friday the previous week and the fact that some auctions were closed for Easter Monday meant that the sales that were running were busy.

“The numbers are hanging in surprisingly well,” said Dave Nickel, of Gladstone Auction Mart, adding that “the lighter feeders are in strong demand.”

Prices for 400 to 600-pound steers were generally in the C$210 to C$260 per hundredweight-area, with heifers going for about C$10 to C$30 per cwt lower in most cases.

“I think our feeder numbers will be dropping very quickly in the near future,” said Nickel accounting for some of the strength as buyers look to fill their demand before the cattle stop coming to market.

Most cattle that were going to come to market this spring have likely already done so, with the odds-and-ends moving over the next few months.

“It looked like last-minute Christmas shopping to me,” said Robin Hill, of Heartland Livestock Services in Virden, noting much of the strength in the market was linked to buyers who held back their purchases for one reason or another.
The cold weather in January and February also hampered some selling at the time, accounting for the big numbers that moved through April.
“The feeder market was really, really strong,” said Hill, adding that the solid prices came despite a softer tone in the U.S. futures.

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, futures prices for both live and feeder cattle dropped sharply during the week as fund traders bailed out of long positions. That could spill into the Manitoba market going forward.

Near-record high cattle-on-feed numbers in the United States, as of April 1, added to the selling pressure in the futures.

Volumes in Manitoba are expected to start dropping off over the next few weeks, as cattle are turned out to grass and many mixed-farmers turn their attention to spring seeding.

As the seasonal factors in the market cause numbers to dry up, the orders from Ontario should also back away, said Hill.

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