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 strengthen
Over the past 30 days, fed prices have strengthened by about $7 per hundredweight, going from the low $150s to the upper $150s. Fed prices established new annual highs and are trading at the highest point in 14 months. Most cattle being marketed are yearlings, but a few more calves have started to come onto the market.
Competition was noted from all three western Canadian packers last week. Dressed sales were reported from mostly $262-$267 per cwt. delivered, and cattle were being scheduled for delivery in the weeks of May 10 and May 17.
Alberta’s fed cash to futures basis was reported at $11.51 per cwt. All cattle traded last week would be delivered in May.
Over the past few weeks some fed cattle from Saskatchewan and Manitoba traded with prices comparable to Alberta. All the cattle from those two provinces will be coming into Alberta for slaughter. In Ontario, dressed sales were reported from $246-$248 per cwt. delivered, steady to $1 per cwt. lower than the week before. Cattle were being booked for the week of May 17 delivery. Year to date, eastern Canadian fed slaughter is seven percent larger than last year.
As more calves start to enter the slaughter mix, carcass weights are expected to decline. Based on the five-year average from first half of the year highs to lows, steer carcass weights on average decline 62 pounds. If that pattern holds, carcass weight would bottom at 878 lb.
In U.S. markets, the fed market had a disappointing week with higher beef cut-out values and softer fed prices. Trade was scattered, with most dressed sales reported from US$190-$191 per cwt., steady to $4 per cwt. lower than the previous week.
Over the past few weeks, Nebraska fed prices have been trading around a $3 per cwt. premium over Texas. Though global and domestic beef demand remains strong, the market psychology seems to be more negative than positive. The concern is that fed cattle supplies are not being processed in a timely enough fashion.
Good slaughter cow demand
Non-fed prices rallied to new annual highs last week on strong seasonal demand. D2 slaughter cow prices increased $1.80 per cwt. from the previous week to average $96.40 per cwt. D3s averaged $83.30. Prices are above the five-year average and were the highest for last week since 2017.
Dressed cow bids rallied sharply higher last week, ranging from around $185-$190 per cwt. delivered. Butcher bull prices firmed $1.25 per cwt. to a new annual high of $115.75 per cwt. Ontario slaughter cow prices last week were reported at a $9-$10 per cwt. discount to Alberta.
Western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending April 24 was five percent larger than the previous week at 5,864 head and year to date was down 15 percent to 112,253 head.
Mixed feeder trade
Calves traded mixed last week with 400-600 lb. steers firming modestly higher while similar weight heifers eased $1-$2 per cwt. lower. Good demand for 500-600 lb. steer calves established a new annual high last week.
Middleweight steers up to 800 lb. saw a moderate price retraction, and heifers were around $2-$3 per cwt. softer. Yearlings heavier than 900 lb. appear to have bottomed and are poised to build higher toward late summer.
Calf prices last week were generally $14-$17 per cwt. higher than the same week last year, and yearlings were significantly $23-$29.50 per cwt. higher, but prices are generally in line with 2019. A marked premium was seen for deferred 800 lb. fall calf delivery, but most feeders last week were priced for spot delivery.
Total auction volumes were 19 percent lower than the previous week at 21,010 head. Year-to-date auction volumes were 26 percent larger at 448,370 head. Canadian feeder exports to the U.S. for the week ending April 17 were 30 percent larger than the previous week, but year to date total 53 percent lower at 23,237 head.
U.S. cutouts up again
In U.S. beef trade, cutouts rallied aggressively higher and were the strongest since June 2020. Choice was US$11.45 per cwt. higher to average $293.76, and Select was up $6.10 per cwt. to average $279.79. Increased market-ready fed supplies are anticipated, so cut-out values could soften.