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 cattle prices steady
Fed cattle prices remain relatively unchanged this summer with the Canfax Alberta weighted average fed steer price ranging between $146.20 and $146.64 per hundredweight. However fed cattle prices this week were $3.50 per cwt. higher than a year ago, the largest year-over-year increase since May. Most of the sales this week were on a dressed basis trading from $244 to $246 per cwt., just a couple dollars lower than last week.
Based on the Canfax trends report, feedlots that have been selling fed cattle on the cash market have faced losses for the better part of 16 months. Equity drain and projected losses on some of the cattle being placed would suggest there is not much more upside to the yearling market.
Quality grades in the Canada Prime and AAA categories are slipping so premiums have been available for higher grading cattle. About 56 percent were AAA and more than 38 percent were AA. Only 1.7 percent made Prime.
Producers are also encouraged to market cattle as the fed cash-to-futures basis levels remain extremely strong for this time of year. The August live cattle futures continue to trade at a large discount to both the local and United States fed cattle market. Given the larger available fed cattle supplies and relatively strong cut-out prices, packers will likely continue to run some Saturday shifts, which should support demand for fed cattle.
Feeder volume light
Commercial auctions continue to report light volumes for both grass cattle and backgrounded feeders on the market.
Steers and heifers weighing more 800 pounds traded in a very wide range this week. Trading 50 cents per cwt. higher this week, 850 lb. steers established new annual highs.
On the electronic sales, the most noticeable pressure was on 950 lb.-plus yearlings with prices $6 to 10 per cwt. lower week over week. Alberta feedlot demand remains firm while eastern Canadian buying interest on the western Canadian feeder market has moderated.
There was limited trade for lighter weight cattle in the West. Alberta feeder steers in the 500-600 lb. range averaged $214.50 per cwt. while Ontario averaged $201.67.
Trading via the electronic market, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba steers weighing 900 lb. to 1,050 lb. sold off grass for August delivery saw a weighted average price of $183.84 per cwt. based at 978 lb., whereas yearlings off grass for September delivery saw a weighted average price of $180 per cwt based at 1,009 lb.
Butcher cow prices have rallied $5.50 per cwt. during the past six weeks and are now at the highest point since early June. Over the past three weeks, Alberta cow prices have been at a $2.75 to $3.75 per cwt. premium against the U.S. utility market. Western Canadian cow slaughter volumes last week totalled 5,349 head, the smallest slaughter volume in nearly one year. In addition, cow carcass weights are 37 lb. smaller than last year.
Feeder cow buyers are holding back on purchases knowing prices trend seasonally lower in the fall when more cows will be available in September.
For the first half of 2019 cow-calf operators dealt with dry conditions and tight feed stocks. They were forced to cull their cow herds harder than normal.
Alberta D2 cows averaged $89.50 per cwt and Ontario averaged $85.07 per cwt.
Live exports escalating
Exports of all classes of cattle are increasing and so far this year 454,440 head have gone to the U.S.
Slaughter cattle exports, including steers, heifers and cows are up 29 percent over 2018. About 271,530 head were shipped. Feeder exports are up nine percent for the same time last year with more than 152, 280 head were sold.