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 flat

Western Canadian fed prices have been stuck in a $5 per hundredweight trading window over the past 11 weeks with prices ranging from $133-$137 per cwt. Packer competition on last week’s cash market was limited. The psychology from the packer was “take it or leave it,” and negotiating for higher money was not successful. As a result, sale volumes were light because many cattle feeders decided to “leave it” last week.

Some cattle were carried over into this week, while some producers were considering the fed cattle set-aside program as an option.

Dressed sales were reported at mostly $224 per cwt. delivered, generally $1 per cwt. lower than the previous week. Cattle that were bought last week were being scheduled for early to mid-October.

Despite the longer lift dates, there were indications some cattle were being pulled a couple weeks ahead of schedule. In addition, there were reports packers were looking to pull some October contract cattle forward.

After moving to a premium to the U.S. market two weeks ago, Alberta fed prices moved back to a discount last week. Both major packers worked Sept. 12 to make up for the Labour Day holiday.

Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending Sept. 12 totalled 43,374 head, seven percent smaller than last year. Last year fed cattle exports to the United States were brisk, but this year Canadian fed exports have been lagging behind 2019 volumes by about 2,000 head per week in recent weeks.

In Ontario, dressed bids and sales were reported from $230-$240 per cwt. delivered. The market tone was steady to weaker. Eastern Canadian steer and heifer carcass weights are larger than last year.

In the U.S., a stronger price tone was noted toward the end of last week. Dressed sales ranged from US$163-$165 per cwt., which was $3-$4 per cwt. higher than the previous week. Live sales in all four major feeding states were reported from $103-$104 per cwt., $2 per cwt. higher.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the fresh beef retail price for August was $6.38 per pound, five percent lower than July but nine percent higher than last year.

Cow prices steady

Non-fed prices were steady to $1 per cwt. higher last week on a generally light offering. Dressed cow bids were reported mostly steady from $165-$170 per cwt. delivered. Alberta slaughter cow prices were trading at a $5 and $10.50 per cwt. premium to Ontario for D2s and D3s, respectively. D2s averaged $84.36 and D3s averaged $74.70.

Butcher bull prices strengthened $1.25 per cwt. higher to average $113.54 per cwt. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending Sept. 12 was one percent larger than the previous week at 4,903 head and year to date was down 24 percent at 219,094 head.

Summer holiday demand continues to deteriorate, and U.S. national 90 percent fresh trim last week slipped $4.05 per cwt. lower. Modest non-fed offerings are anticipated this week and will be price supportive.

Feeder price rises

Alberta feeder prices averaged $2-$3 per cwt. higher last week with good seasonal demand for all types. Calves lighter than 500 lb. saw keen buying interest with prices steady to $5.50 per cwt. higher than the previous week, while 500-600 lb. calves saw prices continuing generally steady. Large calves from 600-800 lb. saw prices firm $2.25-$5 per cwt. higher than the previous week.

Ontario feeders traded at a $6 per cwt. premium to Alberta to encourage eastern buying interest on the Prairies. Saskatchewan and Manitoba feeders traded comparable last week but were priced at a $1 per cwt. discount to Alberta. Large feeders heavier than 900 lb. saw prices firm $1 per cwt. higher.

Total weekly auction volumes surged significantly larger last week with the addition of electronic forward delivery special sales and were four percent larger than the same week last year. Year-to-date auction volumes are nine percent below year ago totalling 745,573 head.

The USDA reports that Canadian feeder exports for the week ending Sept. 5 surged 118 percent larger than the previous week to 2,753 head. Year-to-date feeder exports are 48 percent lower than year ago totalling 84,557 head.

Calves heavier than 500 lb. generally traded $5-$7 per cwt. higher than the same week last year, while September delivery feed barley is trading $25 per tonne higher. Reduced feeding margins and increased auction offering heading toward October are expected to limit calf price upside.

Cut-out price declines

In U.S. beef trade, cut-out values continued to seasonally soften last week with price pressure seen across the entire carcass. Choice averaged US$215.05 and Select averaged $203.39 per cwt. Lacklustre beef demand is anticipated for the rest of September until winter holiday buying gets underway.

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