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 www.canfax.ca.

Active fed trade

Alberta direct cattle sales saw active trade last week with weighted average steer prices firming $1.50 per hundredweight higher than the previous week to $153 per cwt. Dressed prices also rallied. The bulk of weekly trade was reported dressed at $260 per cwt. delivered in a full $254-$261 per cwt. trade range.

Most cattle traded last week were scheduled for September to early October delivery.

Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending Aug. 14 was nine percent larger than the previous week and 20 percent larger than the five-year average at 47,982 head. Year-to-date volume was 15 percent larger, totalling 1,358,161 head.

Canadian steer carcass weights for the same week were two pounds larger than a year ago at 906 lb. while western Canadian steer weights were one lb. lower at 901 lb.

Canadian fed cattle/cow exports to the United States for the week ending Aug. 7 eased seven percent lower than the previous week to 7,358 head and were 11 percent larger than the same week last year. Year to date, exports were down 20 percent, totalling 242,716 head.

Light Ontario trade was seen last week with dressed sales fully steady with the previous week at $258 per cwt. delivered. Scattered light heifer trade was reported comparable with steers.

With lofty feeding margins, feedlots will continue to intensively manage carcass weights and pull cattle forward. Lacklustre post-Labour Day beef demand is anticipated and cutouts are expected to soften.

In the U.S., live trade in the south was steady to US$1 higher than the previous week in a tight $121-$122 per cwt. trade range. Most northern live sales were reported from $126-$128 per cwt., $2-$4 per cwt. higher than the previous week. Dressed trade was steady to $7 per cwt. higher than a week ago, from $198-$205 per cwt. delivered.

Cow prices stay low

The non-fed market has been disappointing relative to the fed market. Butcher cow prices have trended lower for months and are $12 per cwt. lower than last year, whereas fed cattle prices saw an uptick in the last two weeks and are $16 per cwt. higher than last year.

D2 cows averaged $76.92 per cwt. last week, and D3s averaged $68.25.

Compared to mid-July, non-fed volumes through commercial auction facilities have moderated. Many facilities over the past two weeks reported 100 head of cows or fewer at weekly sales.

Though ring cows were lower, packers seem to be bidding more aggressively on negotiated sales because dressed prices were a bit stronger.

For the week ending Aug. 14, western Canadian cow slaughter totalled 6,982 head, 34 percent higher than last year. It was the 16th consecutive week that cow slaughter was above last year.

Ontario cow prices were $3 per cwt. higher last week. U.S. cow prices are the highest they have been since 2016. Strong prices south of the border continue to encourage U.S. packers to buy Canadian non-fed cattle.

Feeders steady to higher

In the feeder and stocker sector, about 80 percent of sales last week on the cash market were yearlings and 20 percent were calves. Calf and feeder prices continue to trade steady to higher than last year. Last week, 900 lb. heifers traded $1 per cwt. higher, setting new annual price highs. There were rumblings that packers strengthened fed basis contracts for the first half of 2022.

Alberta 500-600 lb. steer calves have traded sideways for the past month, averaging in the low $220s per cwt. Manitoba 500-600 lb. steers traded at a slight premium against the Alberta and Saskatchewan market. Ontario buyers continue to be active on the forward delivery calf market and have shown interest on lighter weight calves in Western Canada.

Ontario corn prices are 68 percent higher than last year, while western Canadian barley prices are 75 percent higher than last year.

Canadian weekly feeder cattle exports for the week ending Aug. 7 totalled 5,005 head, the largest volume since April 2020.

Cutouts continue surge

In U.S. beef trade, cutouts surged higher than the previous week. Choice was up by US$23.70 to average $341.63 per cwt., while Select rose by $26.10 per cwt. to average $316.41.

Total U.S. slaughter last week is estimated at 665,000 head, which is almost five percent larger than the previous week.

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