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Feeder Cattle Prices Remain Under Pressure

“Every time the dollar goes up it makes us less competitive.”

Ca t t l e markets in Manitoba held reasonably steady during the week ended Sept. 18, although prices for feeder cattle are still considered to be on the poor side given the strong Canadian dollar and low finished cattle prices.

Numbers at the markets during the week were also steady, although it will still be some time before the fall run starts up in earnest, with many farmers still busy on the fields harvesting their crops.

“The pastures have been holding relatively well and we have enough moisture,” said Gene Parks of Pipestone Livestock Sales, “so there hasn’t been a whole lot of cattle moving.”

Parks added that most of the cattle coming to market were either butcher animals or yearlings. It was still too early for the calves to come to market due to changes in calving practices over the past five to seven years, he said.

At one time producers timed the calving to be in January, which would allow the calves to be ready at this time of year. However, calving now generally takes place in the spring, so calves are still too small and will need to be held before they are ready to go to market, said Parks.

From a pricing standpoint, Parks wasn’t impressed with the market for cattle. “The market is holding relatively steady with where it’s been the past couple of weeks, but it’s certainly not a runaway,” he commented.

He blamed part of the weakness in prices on the strong Canadian dollar, which is serving to limit demand from the U. S. “Every time the dollar goes up it makes us less competitive,” said Parks. Canada currently produces more cattle and beef than it can consume domestically, which makes exports a necessity, he noted.

The currency increased by more than a cent relative to its U. S. counterpart during the week.

Poor finished cattle and U. S. futures prices have also taken their toll on the feeder market, said Parks, adding that it’s hard to motivate the feedlots to buy cattle when they’re not getting any profit at the end of the day either. The lack of profitability in the cattle sector should result in more cows coming to market this year, he said, as more participants exit the market altogether.

“There are a lot of people in that 50-plus range,” Parks said, noting that those producers don’t want to keep eating into their equity. At the same time, he said, it’s getting harder to entice young people into the cattle industry “when the only guarantee is losing money.”

Further out, Parks thought the cattle sector could eventually turn around, although any turnaround could come after major changes to the industry. He thought the pork sector would need to see some strength first, as low pork prices have been weighing on beef as well. “You won’t spend $11.50 for a rib-eye steak if you can buy pork chops for $2.50,” he said.

FROM THE AUCTION FLOORS

Note: All prices in Canadian dollars per hundredweight (cwt). These prices also generally represent the top one-third of sales reported by the auction yard.

Ashern Livestock Mart: An estimated 1,216 head of cattle were sold at the sale held on Sept. 16.

In the slaughter market, heiferettes sold for $55-$62.50; age verified, $45-$50.50; D1 and D2 cows, $40-$48, D3 and D5 cows, $30-$41; and good bulls, $48-$59.75.

Feeder steers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. ranged from $77 to $86.75; 800-900 lbs., $80-$100; 700-800 lbs., $80-$99.25; 600-700 lbs., $85-$103.50; and 500-600 lbs., $90-$102.50.

Feeder heifers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. traded at $73-$80.50; 800-900 lbs., $75-$89.50; 700-800 lbs., $70.50-$91.75; and 600-700 lbs., $70-$93.75.

Gladstone Auction Mart: The Sept. 15 sale saw a total of 534 head of cattle sold. In the slaughter market, bulls sold from $40 to $51.75 while cows brought $17-$44.25.

Feeder steers in the 900-to 1,000-lb. weight category traded from $80 to $89; 800-900 lbs., $78-$95.50; 700-800 lbs., $85-$100; 600-700 lbs., $85-$103.75; 500-600 lbs., $95-$110; 400-500 lbs., $90-$109; and 300-400 lbs., $90-$113.

Feeder heifers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. sold from $70 to $83.75; 800-900 lbs., $75-$86.25; 700-800 lbs., $70-$91.50; 600-700 lbs., $75-$95.50; 500-600 lbs., $80-$95.50; 400-500 lbs., $80-$92.50; and 300-400 lbs., $84-$93.

Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart: There were 540 cattle sold at the Grunthal yard Sept. 16.

In the slaughter market, mature cows brought $32-$39, while good fleshed cows traded from $45 to $49. Lean cows went for $38-$44 and bulls brought $54-$60.

Feeder heifers weighing 800-900 lbs. sold from $82 to $88; 700-800 lbs., $85-$93.75; 600-700 lbs., $88-$98; 500-600 lbs., $90-$99; and 400-500 lbs., $90-$100.

Feeder steers weighing 800-900 lbs. sold from $85 to $92.25; 700-800 lbs., $89-$96.50; 600-700 lbs., $90-$100; 500-600 lbs., $95-$103; and 400-500 lbs., $100-$113.

Heartland Livestock Services, Brandon: A total of 1,350 cattle were on offer in Brandon during the week.

A1-A2 steers went for $74-$78; A1-A2 heifers, $72-$76; D1-D2 cows, $38-$49.50; feeder cows, $32-$37; shells, $15-$32; and good bulls, $57-$60.50.

Feeder steers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. went for $82-$86.50; 800-900 lbs., $85-$93.50; 700-800 lbs., $88-$99.50; 600-700 lbs., $95-$105; 500-600 lbs., $100-$108; and 400-500 lbs., $105-$114.50.

Feeder heifers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. sold for $78-$83.50; 800-900 lbs., $80-$86; 700-800 lbs., $85-$91.25; 600-700 lbs., $85-$94.50; 500-600 lbs., $88-$96; and 400-500 lbs., $95-$105.50.

Heartland Livestock Services, Virden: There were about 1,008 cattle sold at the sale held Sept. 16.

Butcher steers brought $74-$77.75, while butcher heifers sold from $73 to $76.50. Age-verified/ young cows sold for $43-$48.50; D1-D2 cows, $39-$43; D3 cows, $36-$39; shelly cows, $28-$35; and mature bulls, $57-$62.75.

Feeder steers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. brought $86-$92; 800-900 lbs., $87-$95; 700-800 lbs., $90-$101; 600-700 lbs., $97-$106; 500-600 lbs., $100-$116; 400-500 lbs., $105-$117; and 300-400 lbs., $107-$118.

Feeder heifers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. traded from $77 to $86; 800-900 lbs., $81-$88; 700-800 lbs., $84-$91.50; 600-700 lbs., $87-$93.75; 500-600 lbs., $88-$101; and 400-500 lbs., $92-$102.

Pipestone Livestock Sales: There were 635 cattle sold at the sale held on Sept. 14. Included in the sale were 120 slaughter animals and 515 feeders.

In the slaughter market, A1 and A2 steers went for $75-$78; D1 cows, $40-$44; D2 cows, $34-$39; D3 cows, $25-$33; and bulls, $53-$60.

Feeder steers weighing over 900 lbs. fetched $85-$91; 800-900 lbs., $86-$94.50; 700-800 lbs., $86-$103.75; 600-700 lbs., $90-$107.50; 500-600 lbs., $90-$110; and 400-500 lbs., $105-$118.

Feeder heifers weighing over 900 lbs. went for $75-$88; 800-900 lbs., $82-$90; 700-800 lbs., $82-$92; 600-700 lbs., $82-$94; 500-600 lbs., $84-$95.50; and 400-500 lbs., $88-$97.

Ste. Rose Auction Mart: A total of 450 cattle sold at the Sept. 17 sale. In the slaughter market, D1 and D2 cows ranged from $38 to $46, while D3 cows brought $28-$37 and bulls sold from $50 to $55.

Feeder steers weighing 800-900 lbs. traded from $88 to $95; 700-800 lbs., $90-$98; 600-700 lbs., $94-$103; 500-600 lbs., $95-$110.75; 400-500 lbs., $95-$119; and 300-400 lbs., $95-$117.

Feeder heifers weighing 800-900 lbs. sold for $80-$87; 700-800 lbs., $85-$93.50; 600-700 lbs., $85-$93; 500-600 lbs., $85-$93; 400-500 lbs., $95-$104; and 300-400 lbs., $85-$101.

Taylor Auctions, Melita: The sale held Sept. 17 resulted in 27 slaughter cattle and 107 feeders being sold.

In the slaughter market, A1 and A2 steers over 1,000 lbs. sold from $72 to $78.50 while A1 and A2 heifers over 850 lbs. went for $67-$76.50; D1 and D2 cows, $36-$45; D3 and D5 cows, $30-$35; and good bulls, $52-$62.

Feeder steers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. brought $82-$96.50; 800-900 lbs., $85-$103; 700-800 lbs., $88-$106; 600-700 lbs., $90-$108.50; 500-600 lbs., $94-$110; 400-500 lbs., $97-$112.50; and 300-400 lbs., $100-$115.

Feeder heifers weighing 800-900 lbs. traded from $75 to $90.50; 700-800 lbs., $78-$92; 600-700 lbs., $82-$95; 500-600 lbs., $85-$98.50; 400-500 lbs., $88-$103; and 300-400 lbs., $90-$105.

Winnipeg Livestock Sales: There were about 400 head of cattle sold at the sale held Sept. 15. In the slaughter market, choice steers and heifers sold for $74-$76.50. Dry fed cows brought $37-$40; good fleshed, $34-$37; lean, $28-$34; young age verified, $43-$50.50; and good bulls, $50-$55.25.

Feeder steers weighing 800-900 lbs. brought $88-$95; 600-700 lbs., $98-$105; and 500-600 lbs., $104-$115.

Feeder heifers weighing 800-900 lbs. traded from $80 to $85.50; 700-800 lbs., $84-$88; 600-700 lbs., $86-$90; and 500-600 lbs., $88-$93.75.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin - MarketsFarm

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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