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 www.canfax.ca.
Fed prices rebound
Fed prices have rebounded by $5-$8 per hundredweight since mid-March. Closing at slightly more than $153 per cwt. last week, a new annual high price was established. Most were yearlings.
As yearling supplies seasonally decline, calf numbers are expected to be slow to increase. Even though fed prices have picked up, it is not enough to pull calves forward and sell them ahead of schedule. Many early placed calves have break-evens in the $160-$165 per cwt. area.
Packers expressed interest in cash cattle last week and looked to contract cattle in the short term. Sales volumes were light, and competition on the cash market was supportive with both major packers procuring cattle.
Dressed sales ranged from $256-$258 per cwt. delivered. Cattle traded last week were being scheduled for the weeks of April 26 and May 3 delivery. Lift times have tightened over the past few weeks, going from four to five weeks out to now two to three weeks.
Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending April 10 totalled slightly more than 45,000 head, the second largest weekly slaughter seen this year.
In Eastern Canada, dressed sales were reported at mostly $245 per cwt. delivered, $5 per cwt. higher than the previous week. Steer carcass weights averaged 941 pounds, 16 lb. smaller than last year. Ontario/Nebraska cash-to-cash basis was -9.43 compared to -$5.45 per cwt. last year.
In Western Canada, the market is about to transition into the tightest fed supplies we could see all year, and prices are expected to move higher. Fed prices still have the potential to hit $160 per cwt. or higher over the next 30 to 45 days.
Positive processing margins should keep packers running five-day work weeks. Beef exports have been strong for the first two months of this year. Year to date, beef exports to the top three markets of the United States, Japan and Mexico are up compared to last year.
In the U.S., dressed sales in Iowa and Nebraska ranged from US$195-$196 per cwt., and live sales were reported from $123-$126 per cwt. Dressed sales were fully steady with the previous week, while live sales were steady to $1 per cwt. higher.
Feeders get solid prices
General price strength was seen across most of the feeder market last week with renewed optimism for calves. Small calves less than 400 lb. traded widely on varied lot size and quality. Keen interest continued for 400-600 lb. calves, and prices rallied higher.
Large calves heavier than 600 lb. maintained buying interest to top up grazing inventory, and prices firmed more than $3 per cwt. higher. Large feeders heavier than 700 lb. to place against the fourth quarter fed market were generally $1 -$3.50 per cwt. higher than the previous week.
Following the Easter long weekend, total auction volumes rebounded 50 percent larger to 25,291 head, and year-to-date volumes were up 23 percent to 401,498 head. Canadian feeder exports to the U.S. for the week ending April 3 continue to track significantly below a year ago, and the year-to-date total was 54 percent lower at a modest 18,193 head.
Heavier feeder cattle prices typically bottom out sometime during March or April but should begin to gain seasonal momentum. Calf prices though the remainder of April could see limited price upside. If moisture conditions do not improve soon, interest in grass calves could weaken.
Cow prices rise
Non-fed prices rallied higher for a fifth straight week on seasonally strong trim and grind demand. D2 slaughter cow prices were $4.35 per cwt. higher than the previous week, averaging $93.10. D3s averaged $81.75 per cwt. D2 cow prices have remained below the five-year average through 2021 but are poised to converge.
Ontario slaughter cow prices last week were reported at a significant $12.50 per cwt. discount to Alberta. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending April 10 was 5,792 head.
In U.S. beef trade, cut-out values continued to garner middle meat support. Choice averaged US$276.62 per cwt., up $6.12, and Select averaged $268.43 per cwt., up $4.60. Cut-out values were expected to firm higher this week on current strong domestic and global protein demand.