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 prices jump

The Canfax fed steer weighted average was $140.77 per hundredweight, up $3.08, while heifers were $142.74, up $5.86.

The decline in the Canadian dollar helped support prices. Fed values are now the highest since late August.

The Chicago October live cattle contract rallied two percent.

Cash-to-futures basis levels weakened, moving to -$4.68 from -$1.18.

That aside, stronger prices encouraged some producers to market more cattle than initially planned.

U.S. buying interest was noted. U.S. bids worked back to about $140 on a live basis, depending on freight and dressing percentage.

With U.S. bids comparable to local trade, all reported cash sales stayed in Canada. Some packers might take delivery this week.

Western Canadian steer carcass weights rose eight pounds to average 921 pounds. It was the first time this year that carcass weights have been par with last year.

Western Canadian fed slaughter totalled 38,660 head last week, a large number for this time of year.

From their September lows, fed prices have rallied seven percent. Over the past five years, the average increase from second half lows to highs is 15 percent.

If that experience is repeated, prices have the potential to move back to the low $150s.

Fed supplies are tightening but will remain above year ago levels.

Cow volumes normally increase this time of year, which will help packers fill slaughter space.

In the United States, the market was still developing late week but appeared higher with dressed bids at US$180, up $5 from the previous week. Live bids in the south were steady at $111.

The December live futures price had been at a strong premium to October, giving feeders the courage to hold out for stronger cash prices.

Cows up

Prices fell on increased offerings.

D1, D2 cows ranged $82-$97 to average $89.08 per hundredweight, down 79 cents. D3s were steady ranging $70-$86 to average $79.17.

Butcher bull prices fell $2 to average $100.09 per cwt.

Weekly western Canadian slaughter to Oct. 21 rose eight percent to 7,558 head.

For the year, slaughter is up 12 percent.

Exports for the short holiday week to Oct. 14 fell 15 percent to 2,807 head. For the year they are down 25 percent at 152,146 head.

Packer demand for feeder cows as an alternative to feeder steers and heifers should support prices this fall, but marketing’s are seasonally increasing.

Fall run increases

The Alberta weekly sales volume surged to 105,313 head.

In the past six years, weekly sale volumes have topped 100,000 only three other times.

Volume was up 51 percent from the previous week and up 24 percent over last year.

Prices generally fell $1 from the previous week.

Steer prices in almost all weight ranges fell while heifers were steady in all weights except those lighter than 500 lb.

In most areas, harvest has wrapped up and the focus has now shifted to gathering, weaning, culling and shipping.

With all this fall ranch activity, plus fed marketings and exports, trucks are difficult to find. This could limit auction offerings.

However, volume should remain large and strong prices should pull the entire calf crop to market, including light weights and heifers that potentially would have been carried over into the new year.

Good demand is anticipated for feeders over 600 lb. to be placed against the first and second quarter fed market.

Calf feeding margins have improved modestly, but prices are still expected to dip on a large offering.

Larger feeders over 800 lb. should trade steady to higher on tighter supply.

Beef up

U.S. boxed beef prices to Oct. 26 rose with Choice up $2.80 at US$202.37 per cwt., and Select rose $1.15 to $191.91

Weekly Canadian cut-out values to Oct. 21 rose with AA at C$246.31, up $2.76, but AA was down 19 cents at $232.78.

Moving into November, procurements for the holiday season will likely be more active, supporting middle meat prices.

Markets at a glance


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