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

Active fed sales

Alberta direct cattle sales saw active trade last week with dressed sales firming around $2 per hundredweight higher than the previous week. The bulk of sales were reported dressed at $262 per cwt. delivered. Light live trade from $154.25-$155 per cwt. was comparable with rail sales.

Weighted average steer prices firmed $1.88 per cwt. higher than the previous week to $156.27 per cwt.

Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending Aug. 28 was the second largest weekly kill so far this year at 51,405 head and was the third largest since mid-2005. A five percent week-over-week increase was reported for western fed slaughter, and there was a significant 20 percent increase in non-fed slaughter.

Total Canadian slaughter was also the second largest for this year at 72,438 head and was 12 percent larger than the same week last year.

Canadian steer carcass weights for the same week were two pounds larger than the previous week at 906 lb. but were two lb. lower than year ago.

Canadian fed cattle/cow exports to the United States for the week ending Aug. 21 were three percent larger than the previous week at 10,115 head and were 55 percent larger than the same week last year.

Active Ontario trade strengthened throughout last week with some dressed sales reaching $270 per cwt. delivered.

Boxed beef values are expected to deteriorate through most of this month, and lacklustre demand is expected on ample market-ready supplies.

In the U.S., light fed trade was reported in the south at US$123-$124 per cwt. Moderate volume live trade in the north was steady to lower than the previous week from $125-$127.50 per cwt. Dressed sales were reported from $198-$204 per cwt. delivered. Stockers and feeders traded $2 per cwt. on either side of steady last week. Good demand was reported for larger feeders in north-central feeding areas.

Rain slows culling

Rain across much of the Prairies over the past two weeks has moderated culling pressure, and volumes through commercial auction facilities have been light. Even though non-fed numbers have moderated, larger fall volumes are ahead.

D2 cow prices seem to have found some stability, last week averaging $76.40 per cwt. D3s averaged $67.42. Two weeks ago, Alberta cow prices traded at a $14 per cwt. discount against the U.S. market. This is the fourth largest discount Alberta cow prices have been to the U.S. over the past five years.

Many producers have started culling harder than normal. Over the past month or so, more bred cows have been hitting the market. Some younger cows are being preg-checked and sold as bred cows, but demand is light to weak. Most exposed cows are ending up in the slaughter mix.

In Ontario, butcher cow prices strengthened last week and are within $6 per cwt. of their annual highs set in June.

Over the past four weeks, western Canadian cow slaughter has averaged 6,292 head per week, 43 percent larger than last year.

Busy feeder auctions

August feeder volumes through Alberta auction yards totalled 71,254 head, and electronic/in-house video sales totalled 87,146 head. Total sale receipts for the month equalled 158,400 head compared to 84,987 head last year. Auction volumes are showing no signs of slowing, and all of September is expected to be busy.

Many pre-sort and breed-influenced calf sales are being highlighted this month, which is at least 30 days earlier than normal. The market tone for calves and feeders remains strong with prices generally steady to higher than last year. Yearlings coming off grass are trading at or near annual highs. Last week, Alberta 500-600 lb. steers averaged slightly more than $225 per cwt., the highest price for the first week of September since 2015.

In Ontario, 500-600 lb. steer calves averaged slightly more than $238 per cwt., the highest price since November 2017.

Canadian feeder cattle prices for the week ending Aug. 21 totalled 6,004 head, the largest weekly export volume for August since 2009. The forward delivery calf market was lightly tested last week, and prices were in line with current cash prices for October and November.

Cutout continues lower

In U.S. beef trade, buyers continued to dig in and cut-out values were pressured lower for a fifth straight week. Choice averaged US$337.92 and Select averaged $304.97 per cwt. Wholesale buyers continue to wait out the market for lower prices.

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