Manitoba cattle movement mixed

Winnipeg (CNS Canada) – Cattle moving through the Manitoba auction yards were up and down during the week, with some classes moving higher and others lower.

The market had “a mixed feeling,” according to Robin Hill, of Heartland Livestock Services in Virden. He said there was no real rhyme or reason to the gains or losses in the different classes of feeder cattle.

Demand continued to come from both eastern and western buyers, with volumes to the south still lacking. Futures in the United States were a bit more positive during the week, which lent some support to the Canadian market.

However, the Canadian dollar rose sharply during the week ended April 13, hitting 79.5 U.S. cents. The rising currency will be followed closely by the cattle sector, as it cuts into profitability.

Grass cattle saw the best demand, with prices for lighter-weight steers under-500lbs generally in the C$190 to C$220 per hundredweight area across the province. Heifers in the same weight category ranged from about C$180 to C$210, although there were some that sold above C$220.

With the lingering winter, cattle are eating more and will be going out to grass later. “Feed shortage is becoming a bit of a factor on some farms,” said Hill noting that “more and more producers are talking about the feed situation.”

On the butcher side, cows and bulls were generally a bit firmer on the week. Hill said demand was good for butcher cattle, with “hamburger season just around the corner.”

Roughly 7,800 head of cattle were marketed through the province’s auction yards during the week. A slowdown in activity is normal for this time of year, as ranchers are busy with calving and attention turns to the spring.

Hill expected to see numbers dwindle in the upcoming weeks, but noted that many producers will still have a “cleanout day” sometime in the next month or two. If a cow losses her calf, that animal will likely be coming to auction shortly after.

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