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

Feeder trade lower

Over the past three weeks, calf prices have traded lower than last year.

Weekly sales numbers were 15 percent higher than the previous week, but 26 percent lower than the same time last year.

Yearling prices are also trading lower but Alberta feeder prices stabilized after sharp declines seen the week before.

Light calves at less than 500 pounds saw a mixed trade with steers firming higher than the previous weeks while heifers eased lower.

Alberta steers in the 400-500 lb. range averaged $237.95 per hundredweight while the 500-600 lb. animals were $217.59. The next category of 600-700 lb. averaged $212.59. Steers and heifers in that category were $1.50 to $3 per cwt. below last week .

Ontario steers weighing 400-500 lb. were averaging $218.81 per cwt. and the 500-600 lb. weight range was $214.24 per cwt. The next class at 600-700 lb. averaged $201.24.

Year-to-date sales volumes across the country totalled 1.1 million head.

As harvest moves toward completion, producers will shift to weaning and shipping calves so sales volumes are expected to increase.

Big dip for fat cattle

For the week ending Oct. 26, fed prices have dropped $3.75 per cwt. in two weeks.

On a cash-to-cash basis, Alberta prices went from a +6.41 premium against the Nebraska market last week to an estimated $1 discount this week.

Sales volumes were not large this week.

Western fed slaughter for the week ending Oct. 20 was 43,368 head. This is the largest slaughter volume for this period since 2004.

Alberta-Saskatchewan cattle on feed placements of calves and light weight stockers weighing less than 700 lb. in the first quarter of 2018 were down 14 percent, or 18,500 head, compared to last year These lighter weight calves could be supportive for the November-December fed market.

Seasonal buying of the rib and loin market, as well as trim, should also support the fed market going forward.

Live Alberta steers were $147.50 to $147.75 and live Alberta heifers were $147 per cwt. Steers and heifers on the rail ranged from $246.50 to $248.50.

Ontario live steers still lag behind Alberta and were priced from $122.39 to $142.79 per cwt. Live heifers were $117.07 to $139.86 per cwt. Rail prices were comparable for both classes.

Cows and bulls

Slaughter cows are trending seasonally lower but sales offerings were ample and the kill was up 18 percent with more than 7,230 processed for the week. This pace is expected to continue for the next week or so.

D2 cow prices dropped $2.79 per cwt. from last week but D3 cows were down only 80 cents per cwt. Dressed cow bids were around $155-$158 per cwt.

Canadian slaughter cows are still trading at a premium of $10 per cwt. to the U.S. utility market.

Bulls averaged $96.26 per cwt.

Kill numbers up

To date, 2.4 million head of cattle have been killed, a seven percent increase over last year. The quality mix had 64.5 percent grading AAA and 31.6 percent making AA.

Total beef production is up seven percent over last year.

Average carcass weights continue to be high with a seasonal peak in late October to early November. The annual high so far was 931 lb. at the beginning of October but weights have fallen back to 924 lb. and will probably continue to fall for the rest of the year.

Last year, weights peaked in October at 936 lb.

Over the last 10 years, carcass weights have increased 9.5 percent from the summer low to the fall high.

Weights fluctuate between Eastern and Western Canada. Eastern carcasses tend to be lower than Alberta. These shifts in carcass weights and feedlot currentness may create large swings in the premiums and discounts between the two regions.

Feed grains

Lethbridge barley ranged from $245 to $250 per tonne while wheat was $243 to $257 per tonne.

Lethbridge corn was $244.67 per tonne, while Ontario was at the lower price of $181.48 per tonne. Ontario barley was $280 per tonne.

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