Manitoba cattle steady; Ontario, U.S. show interest

Manitoba cattle auctions reported strong prices this week amid good interest from the United States and Ontario.

Prices slipped slightly, but remain at relatively strong levels, said Manitoba Beef Producers General Manager Brian Lemon and Brian Perillat of cattle market analysis firm Canfax.

“Prices are still down a bit. But they are still softening from a number that works for our producers,” said Lemon.

Perillat said Manitoba prices have held up due in part to good interest out of the U.S. and Ontario.

“We’ve seen at times, especially on yearlings, where the Manitoba prices were practically flat with Alberta.”

Some cattle auctions in the province returned from summer closures earlier than normal in hopes of catching an early fall sales run. Perillat and Lemon agree that an early run appears to be forming.

“We are going to see a little more calves come in, in sort of a shorter time period, maybe a little less demand on them too, just because there are not as many backgrounders on the market,” Perillat said.

He said higher feed costs and the falling Canadian dollar are both rippling markets this week, but feedlots continue to buy. However, a large number of cattle on feed already exists and if supply pressures start to appear, buyers may back off.

But, he said “for the most part, feedlots have been quite aggressive on the market.”

Lemon expected that many Manitoba producers are currently assessing their pastures and weighing the costs of feeding animals versus selling early.

“Do you want to go when the run is happening and sell in the run? Or do you want to try and hold off and market either earlier or later to avoid the glut that is the fall run? Can you afford to do that? Those are all questions that every producer is probably working through at their kitchen table.”

Dry weather has withered hay crops in many areas of the province and good quality cereal crops are not likely to see downgrades to feed, barring any damaging event, such as widespread frost or prolonged rain that significantly delays harvest.

There was approximately 3,200 head sold at Manitoba auction marts for the week ended Aug. 31. Six of the province’s eight major auction marts held sales.

A random sampling of Manitoba auctions last week show prices holding up well.

D1-D2 cows at Heartland Livestock Services in Virden on Aug. 29 sold between C$78 and C$82 per hundredweight (cwt). Feeder steers, 700 to 800 lb. sold for C$188 to C$205 cwt and heifers in the same weight range sold for C$173 to C$186.50 cwt. The auction had 711 animals for sale.

At Heartland’s Brandon sale on Aug. 28, 431 animals were sold, with 700 to 800 lb. steers going for between C$190 to C$206 cwt; 700 to 800 lb. heifers went for C$190 to C$206 cwt and D1, D2 cows sold for C$77 to C$85 cwt.

In the south, at Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart, 159 head were sold Aug. 28 with cows going for C$70 to C$80 cwt, bulls were C$90 to C$104.25 cwt and heiferettes were C$90 to C$97 cwt. Eighty feeder animals were on sale, but there was not enough to set price.

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