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 sales steady

Alberta direct cattle sales saw moderate to active trade last week with prices fully steady to firmer. Live steer trade was reported from $164.50-$166 per hundredweight and was comparable with rail sales. Most trade was reported dressed from $275-$277 per cwt.

Western Canadian fed cattle slaughter for the week ending June 5 realigned seven percent larger than the previous week to 40,351 head, and year to date was 25 percent larger, totalling 895,764 head.

Western Canadian steer carcass weights are 36 pounds below year ago. Canadian fed cattle/cow exports to the United States for the week ending May 29 were seasonally light at 3,749 head and were 24 percent lower than the previous week. Year to date, exports were down 16 percent to 187,289 head.

Most Ontario trade last week saw rail sales $5 per cwt. higher than the previous week at $270 per cwt. delivered, and a handful was reported at $272 per cwt. delivered. Follow-up trade late in the week marked at $270 per cwt. delivered.

Summer grilling buying is winding down, and cut-out values are expected to soften. Foodservice and export demand will continue to be supportive.

In the U.S., last week saw scattered fed trade at prices fully steady with the previous week from US$119-$120 per cwt. in most feeding areas. Most northern dressed trade was reported fully steady to $1 per cwt. higher than the previous week’s Nebraska rail average of $191 per cwt. delivered in a full $189-$194 per cwt. delivered trade range.

Packer inventories are ample. Feeders generally traded steady to $4 per cwt. higher than the previous week.

Cows on uptrend

Cow prices have generally been in an uptrend since the start of the year. Alberta cow prices are trading at the highest point since 2015, while U.S. utility cow prices are the strongest since 2017. In Western Canada, there has been a noticeable increase in non-fed volumes. The increase in numbers is likely calving culls coming to town and potentially some late calving cows that producers are tired of waiting on.

Butcher cows traded steady to $1 per cwt. higher last week. D2s averaged $102.44, and D3s averaged $89.93 per cwt. Alberta cow prices have been trading at an $18-$19 per cwt. premium against the U.S. cow utility market.

Over the previous four weeks, western Canadian cow slaughter has averaged 6,239 head, 10 percent lower than 2019 and 16 percent lower than 2018. For the week ending June 5, eastern Canadian cow slaughter totalled 2,347 head, the second largest weekly volume this year.

Dry conditions in parts of Manitoba resulted in increased culling pressure. Some commercial auction facilities in Manitoba that would traditionally not operate during the summer have tentatively added additional sales.

Good feeder demand

Feeder and calf supplies are seasonally declining, and even though it is becoming difficult to assemble load lots, demand for all classes of cattle remains good. Calf and feeder prices are higher than last year, and basis levels remain historically strong.

Trading $2-$4 per cwt. higher last week, steers and heifers weighing 800 to 900 lb. established new annual price highs. The strength on 850 lb. feeders last week seemed to be grass interest.

Last week, Alberta calves weighing 600-625 lb. for October delivery traded in the $215-$216 per cwt. area. Canadian feeder cattle exports to the U.S. for the week ending May 29 totalled 2,521 head, the second consecutive week that feeder exports have been above last year.

U.S. feeder cattle imports continue to come into Canada at a strong pace. In April they totalled slightly more than 35,000 head compared to 12,000 head last April.

In a lightly tested cow-calf market, pairs averaged $2,100, which was $250 per head lower compared to the same week last year. Many cows on offer were middle-aged with good calves at side. For younger pairs, sales hit $2,575. Older pairs traded in the $1,750-$1,900 range.

Cut-out values slip

In U.S. beef trade, cutouts appeared to have peaked two weeks ago, and values slipped around US$2.50 lower. The Choice cutout averaged $338.25, and Select averaged $310.40. Total U.S. slaughter last week was estimated to be 24 percent larger than the previous week at 665,000 head.

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