Canfax report

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

Fed cattle lower; packers looking for deferred deliveries

North American fed cattle prices were under pressure for the week.

Western Canadian sale volumes were too light to establish a weighted average steer or heifer price. Most of the dressed bids were reported in the mid-$230s per hundredweight on a delivered basis, about $10-$12 per cwt. lower than last week. Lower bids encouraged producers to hold cattle for another week. Packers were buying cattle for the end of August delivery but some indicated they did not need them until mid-September.

Ontario fed prices on a dressed basis traded at a slight premium to the west.

For the week ending Aug. 10, fed slaughter totalled 42,465 or about four percent lower than last year. However carcass weights are starting to creep up again, averaging904 pounds. For this particular week, this is the second largest carcass weight over the past 20 years.

Carcass weights up

Canadian slaughter levels and higher carcass weights have led to a seven percent increase in beef production this year. Canadian fed slaughter is up 5.7 percent from last year, and given the higher grading cattle year to date, more AAA and Prime beef has been produced in Canada. Through to the end of July, nearly 64 percent of all A graded cattle were AAA or Prime, up slightly from last year’s percentage of 63.35 percent. As carcass weights increase over time and seasonally change through the year, the number of animals that grade AAA and Prime also improves.

Cattle on feed report

The August cattle on feed report showed inventories are above a year ago totalling 797,955 head, six percent larger than last year and 16 percent greater than the five-year average.

Pasture conditions have generally improved across the Prairies, so yearlings are still on grass and have not been placed. August auction volumes have been light.

Placements in July were down for most weight ranges. Heifers as a percent of total placements were 25.6 percent compared to the five-year average of 43 percent going on feed.

Feeder futures down

A serious fire at Tyson Foods beef packing plant in Kansas has been correlated to feeder futures plummeting limit down for the first part of the week. The nearby August feeder contract was down eight percent sliding from $138.90 to $127.72 per cwt. However by Aug. 15 the August contract recovered and closed at $135.77 per cwt.

The feeder market is bearish and prices have trended steady to modestly lower.

Light calves less than 700 lb. saw good demand and prices were steady to $5.50 per cwt. higher averaging $205.57 in Alberta. Feeder steers from 700-800 lb. saw the largest week over week decline and prices slipped $5.50 per cwt. lower. Alberta steers averaged $195 per cwt. while Ontario averaged $190.26 per cwt.

Large steers greater than 800 lb. traded barely steady to $3.25 per cwt. lower while similar weight heifers trended fully steady to $3 per cwt. higher. Alberta steers averaged $188 per cwt. and heifers were $167.86.

Cow prices improve

Non-fed cow prices firmed higher this week on modest supplies and good summer grilling demand. Western D2 prices were $92 per cwt. for a $2.50 per cwt. higher rally than last week and D3s averaged $68.93 per cwt., $1.88 per cwt. higher.

Butcher bull prices eased modestly this week to $108.17 per cwt. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter volumes for the four-day week ending Aug.10 were down three percent at 5,576 head but year-to-date slaughter volumes are seven percent larger totalling 257,152 head.

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