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 market stalled
The fed market has been stuck in a $2 per hundredweight trading range over the past five weeks, ranging from $150-$152 per cwt. Over that time, fed prices on average are 13 percent higher than last year and five percent higher than the five-year average.
Last week dressed sales ranged from $253-$254 per cwt. delivered. Cattle were being scheduled for the first half of September delivery.
Over the past two weeks Saskatchewan cattle that have traded on the cash market are coming west into Alberta for slaughter.
From their spring lows to fall highs, the average increase for western Canadian steer carcass weights over the past five years is 107 pounds. Using an historical increase, this would put carcass weights on track to peak at 955 lb. Cattle performance has been well above average but with record high feed grain prices, carcass wights are not expected to hit 955 lb.
Active trade developed in Ontario last week with dressed sales ranging from $258-$260 per cwt. delivered, fully steady with the previous week. Most of the cattle were being booked for late August/early September delivery. From their high in May, eastern Canadian steer carcass weights have dropped 67 lb.
The market now seems to be staring at a wall of cattle. Based on the five-year average, western Canadian fed slaughter volumes traditionally peak during the second half of August.
In the U.S., dressed sales in Iowa and Nebraska ranged from US$198-$204 per cwt., but mostly at $198 per cwt, steady to a little stronger than the previous week. Live sales in Nebraska ranged from $123-$125 per cwt., steady to $1 per cwt. lower than the previous week. Live sales in Texas and Kansas were reported from $120-$122 per cwt.
Cow prices plunge
A large volume of non-fed cattle was on offer last week and slaughter cow prices were pressured $1.50 per cwt. lower. Alberta D2 cows averaged $80.50 per cwt. last week, down $22.63 per cwt. from the annual high in mid-June and were over $13 per cwt. lower than the five-year average.
Compared with Ontario, Alberta D2 slaughter cows last week traded at a $3 per cwt. discount.
Dressed cow bids softened, with reports in a wide $145-$152 per cwt. delivered trade range. Butcher bull prices were sharply $4.60 per cwt. lower last week to average $106.40 per cwt.
Western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending Aug. 7 was 11 percent lower than the previous week at 5,833 head and year to date volumes were 12 percent larger totalling 211,732 head. Cow marketings are expected to ramp up as pasture conditions erode and feed prices firm higher.
Soft demand on feeders
The Alberta feeder market stalled last week on increased offerings and softened demand as pasture conditions and feed availability continued to deteriorate. Light calves less than 500 lb. traded mixed while benchmark calves from 500-700 lb. saw lower prices.
Generally good demand continued for large quality lots of feeders over 700 lb. to place against the 2022 first quarter fed market. Calves less than 700 lb. for deferred September-November delivery traded at a marked discount to spot last week while larger feeders over 700 lb. saw a moderate premium.
Eastern buying interest was supportive. Total weekly sale volumes surged 122 percent larger than the previous week to 55,247 head. Feeder exports to the U.S. for the week ending July 31 were 13 percent larger than the previous week at 2,612 head and 43 percent larger than the same week last year.
Poor pasture conditions and tight feed stocks will continue to drive all types of cattle to auction and lacklustre demand is expected to pressure prices lower. Anticipated low grain yields and lofty prices have many feedlots scrambling to import U.S. corn. More feeder exports to the U.S. are anticipated if calf prices dip below the U.S. market. Canadian cattle feeders are also looking at shipping cattle to the corn in the U.S. for better feeding margins.
In U.S. beef trade, cutout values continued to rebound seasonally higher on improved wholesale buying interest and reduced harvest due to a recent flood disruption. The Choice cutout surged US$25.35 per cwt. higher than the previous week, to average $317.93, and Select rallied $16.54 per cwt. to average $290.31.