WINNIPEG(CNS) – The effects of this winter’s cold temperatures are starting to become evident as cattle in Manitoba seem to be showing up at auctions weighing slightly more than last year.
“Cattle eat well in the cold and they eat more when it’s cold,” said Allan Munroe of Killarney Auction Mart.
He adds last year’s winter was difficult on the animals due to all the blowing snow and wind. If cattle are uncomfortable and trying to keep out of the wind they don’t eat, he explained.
Fortunately, that has changed this year as frigid temperatures have kept cattle eating feed more often than not.
Dry conditions in southern Manitoba have also impacted the movement of this year’s herd, he said.
“There were cattle pulled off wheat fields and put into feed lots earlier than they normally would have been due to the dry situation down there,” he said.
He adds that is pushing a lot of cattle that would normally finish in the summer months into fall.
Prices were holding relatively firm compared to last week at most of the province’s eight major auction outlets. Heavier steers saw some weakening along with the middle weights but posted slight gains elsewhere. Slaughter bulls ticked slightly higher along with some heifers. However, cattle with heavy flesh, horns and coarse heads were being discounted.
Munroe says cattle in the 400lb to 500lb range have steadily been gaining strength. Floor bids were generally in the C$230 per hundredweight range stretching up to as high as C$272.50.
“The guys are optimistic that down the road those cattle will continue to pay,” he said.
He adds prices are quite a bit stronger on a yearly basis too.
Demand is coming from all directions, even the U.S.
“We’re starting to see some cattle moving south and the east wants cattle but pen space is an issue,” he said. “We get a load or two that head out to Alberta every week.”
Over 14,000 head made their way to market compared to 10,600 the week before.
Feed doesn’t appear to be an issue for most ranchers right now, according to Munroe.
Some weakness could be coming in the next week or two though as U.S. futures have been weakening recently. April-dated contracts fell 4.5 per cent on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last week due to supply issues in the U.S. There are fears that the U.S. supply of cattle is rising too quickly and the pressure could be felt into summer.