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
Fed cattle prices have strengthened for five consecutive weeks. The small rally is impressive given fed prices are usually at seasonal summer lows.
Over the past four weeks, western Canadian fed beef production is 3.1 percent higher than last year and 4.8 percent higher than 2019. Over that same time, fed cattle prices are 12 percent higher than last year and four percent higher than 2019.
Last week most dressed sales were reported from $264-$265.50 per hundredweight delivered. Cattle traded last week were being scheduled for delivery anywhere from the second half of September to early October.
After trading at a discount to the U.S. market for the previous nine weeks, Alberta fed prices moved back to a slight premium last week. Feedlots have been facing record high feedgrain prices, and Canadian carcass weights were below last year. There is a strong correlation between carcass weights and grading. Despite lower weights, grading has been running just above last year.
In Ontario, dressed sales were reported at $270 per cwt. delivered. Cattle were scheduled for one to two-week delivery. Ontario fed prices are the highest since early July. The Ontario fed market is the highest priced market in North America.
In the U.S., trade was scattered last week with a softer price tone. Dressed sales in Iowa and Nebraska ranged from US$197-$203 per cwt., $1 per cwt. lower than the previous week. Live sales in Nebraska ranged from $124-$127 per cwt., a few dollars lower than the previous week.
For the week ending Aug. 28, U.S. beef cow slaughter totalled just over 69,000 head, 14 percent larger than last year.
Cow price up slightly
Modest non-fed offerings were reported last week, and good demand was seen for immediate delivery. D2 cows strengthened by $1.29 per cwt. last week following a 12-week price decline. D2s averaged $77.69 and D3s averaged $68.92 per cwt. Ontario D2 cows continued to trade at a premium to Alberta, averaging $87.06 per cwt.
Dressed cow bids were generally steady with the previous week at around $150-$155 per cwt. delivered. Butcher bulls traded fully steady, averaging $104.96 per cwt.
U.S. cutout lowers
In U.S. beef trade, seasonally softer demand and high prices continued to pressure cut-out values lower last week. Choice saw a US$5.34 per cwt. decline to average $332.58, and Select slid $8.52 per cwt. lower to average $296.45. Total U.S. slaughter last week was an estimated eight percent lower than the previous week at 577,000 head.
Feeder market sluggish
With harvest season in full swing and the Labour Day holiday, last week’s feeder market was sluggish. Light calves less than 400 pounds traded $5-$6 per cwt. lower on varied lot size and quality. Good demand continued for 400-500 lb. calves and prices were unevenly steady.
Calves from 500-700 lb. saw prices ease $1-$1.50 per cwt. lower than the previous week on a limited offering and large steers over 700 lb. traded $1.50-$3 per cwt. lower.
With Ontario feeders trading at a significant premium to Alberta, good eastern buying interest continued. Load lots of Alberta and Saskatchewan 500-600 lb. steer calves for October delivery saw a modest premium to spot delivery last week.
All feeder steers continue to trade stronger than a year ago. Benchmark 550 weight steer calves averaged almost $14 per cwt. higher than the five-year average, and 850 lb. steers averaged more than $5 per cwt. higher.
Total Alberta weekly sale volumes for the short Labour Day week were 31 percent smaller than the previous week and 24 percent lower than the same week last year. Year-to-date auction volumes were 31 percent larger than a year ago at 870,543 head.
Feeder exports to the United States for the week ending Aug. 28 were 47 percent lower than the previous week but 152 percent larger than a year ago at 3,184 head. Year-to-date feeder exports were down 11 percent from a year ago to 72,951 head.
September is booking up for dedicated calf sales. Seasonally larger lot sizes of quality calves will be on offer, and buying interest is expected to intensify. Feedlots are looking to swap out fed cattle on full grain rations to better use tight grain stocks on calves until U.S. corn deliveries ramp up.