Compared to last week, western Canadian prices for yearlings weighing 800 lbs. and over were unchanged; however, calves and yearlings in the 600- to 800-lb. category traded steady to $3 higher.
The calf market was hard to define due to small groups of various quality. Strength in deferred live cattle futures along with the weaker Canadian dollar set a positive tone. Yearlings straight off grass were well bid. Prices for steers weighing 850-875 lbs. were hovering just under the psychological $200 level in central and southern Alberta.
Many auction barns will start their fall sales program over the next couple of weeks. Pastures are deteriorating rapidly across the Prairies. While the market was firm, buyers felt it may be prudent to wait until supplies increase in August. Barley prices surged last week and there is still a fair amount of uncertainty regarding the price of feed grains for the next round of feeding. Buyers didn’t feel inclined to push values higher but there definitely is no slippage.
South of Edmonton, Angus-blended steers on light barley ration averaging 860 lbs. sold for $198; in east-central Alberta, larger-frame Simmental-blended steers straight off grass weighing 930 lbs. were quoted at $191. In central Saskatchewan, a small group of yearling mixed steers averaging 820 lbs. reached up to $194. In southern Alberta, Hereford-based heifers averaging a shade over 800 lbs. were valued at $182 landed in the feedlot.
Calves are second stage at this time of year and the small farmer-cattle producer can pick up some good deals on the lighter categories. There were limited numbers on offer. In southern Alberta, Charolais-based steers weighing just under 600 lbs. were valued at $236 and similar-quality and -weight heifers were quoted at $203. In east-central Alberta, mixed steers averaging 500 lbs. were quoted at $240 and mixed heifers weighing 500 lbs. were quoted at $200.
During May and June, western Canadian feeder cattle prices were premium to U.S. values. This past week, there were some feature sales in the Midwest where 700- to 800-pounders were premium to Western Canada. Canadian year-to-date feeder cattle exports are down 33 per cent from year-ago levels. The Nebraska feedlot may have a competitive advantage this fall due to lower feed grain costs.
— Jerry Klassen manages the Canadian office of Swiss-based grain trader GAP SA Grains and Produits Ltd. and is president and founder of Resilient Capital, specializing in proprietary commodity futures trading and market analysis. Jerry consults with feedlots on risk management and writes a weekly cattle market commentary. He can be reached at 204-504-8339 or via his website at ResilCapital.com.