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Glen Nicoll – for Mar. 26, 2009

Considering that BSE broke more than five years ago, the Canadian beef cow herd contraction has only sizably shown up in the last few years with 2008 showing the largest shrinkage at six per cent. The 2.5 million cows of ’03 ballooned to 5.6 million by the next year. We have been right around five million for the last three years with a six per cent drop in 2008 for an over all herd of 13 million.

With the Canadian dollar’s climb of six per cent in the last few weeks, the flow of southbound feeders might be slowed. Canadian feeder exports had shot up to 12,000 for the seven days a couple of weeks back on that 77-cent dollar; they had been closer to 9,000 before that. The 12,000 broke out into 6,000 heading to Iowa and Nebraska with 4,000 to Washington and Idaho feedlots. The remaining headed into the central states in the upper Midwest according to the USDA’s tracking of destination states. Overall feeder exports are 60,000 under 2008’s year-to-date total of 139,708.

Australia’s herd is just starting to rebuild after the seven-year drought has broken in some areas. The overall herd has just reached 28 million and is expected to make 29.5 in another couple of years.

As the Australian dollar drops, the markets have opened a bit to their conventional Asian customers. But their cow beef has become competitive in the North American market. We are looking at $1.56 /lb for 90 per cent lean landed from across the Pacific, as compared to the going $1.68 domestic price.

Brazil’s 50 million cows have come down a little in the last few years but the total herd is around 190 million. According to the country’s largest packer JBS. SA, their plants are running under capacity on a shortage of cattle. At 19,000-head per day in Brazil, JBS. SA wants to see a 10 per cent increase in production over the next couple of years, according to their investor relations director. In their 52 plants worldwide they process 51,000 head per day. Originating in Brazil, they have 23 plants there, six in Argentina. 12 in the U. S. and four in Australia.


The pen rails weren’t bowed out as they managed to fit 2,600 head in the back at Ashern last week, a little under their capacity of 4,000.

In the back of the computer’s shot of the Ashern ring, the front row was looking full and a few local backgrounders were still filling their cards as the feeder heavy consignment went through. The mature slaughter types made up 160 head. Biggest volumes were tallied by the steers at 6s and 7s and heifers at 6s with the 5s right behind in both sexes. We took in the cows and 75 per cent of the feeders until they finished at suppertime.

The Internet bidding at Ashern still hasn’t taken off and a local feeder tried it out and found he was a cent or two behind the game by the time the clicks were recognized at both ends, said the auctioneer.


The lightest calves weren’t topping the price per pound presumably because their health might not be as robust as some of the older ones. That said the little steers had 55 per cent on the high side of $1.20, 31 per cent over $1.10 and 14 per cent under $1.10. They went to $1.26 on 17 483-lb. Red Angus-Xs and smokeys ($609 per head). Some 445-lb. Herfs were held to $1.06 ($472) and the 499-lb. Chars stopped at $1.10 ($549) alongside the 388-lb. Angus-Simms at $1.10 ($427). Light heifers had a couple of big bunches that brought 40 per cent over $1.10, the 463-lb. (Angus-Simms sold at $1.15 ($532). The middle 52 per cent were between $1.10 and the dollar with the 418-lb. Angus-Xs at $1.08 ($451).Under the dollar came eight per cent with the 495-lb. Char-X selling at 90 cents ($445).

Steers at 5s sorted into 15 per cent in the $1.20s, 43 per cent over $1.10, 38 per cent over $1 and 24 per cent under the buck. Riding high right up to $1.24 was two ringfuls of 521-lb. Angus-Simms ($646) The 585-lb. reds and whites went to $1.14 ($667) and the 545-lb. Salers-X sat at $1.05 ($562).

Heifers at 5s felt continued grass demand holding steady prices. The topside of the dollar bought 62 per cent, leaving 38 per cent under. It was a $1.10 peak on the green 556-lb. Red Angus-Xs and Char-Xs ($611). Whites and tans weighing 535 lbs. sold for $1.06 ($567) and a half-ringful of 590-lb. Angus-Simms stopped at 98 cents ($578). Some framey ones filled in the next few cents lower and then the colouration and frame on the 515-lb. Simm-Tarentaise left her at 70 cents ($360).

Six-weight heifers had a peak of $1.09 on the 655-lb. Char-Xs ($713) as they led the 55 per cent over the dollar. In the 45 per cent under the buck the 655-lb. Angus-Simms sold for 98 cents ($642). Roan was not the colour in demand as the 675-lb. Char-Shorthorn brought 87 cents ($587). Heifers at 7s traded 37 per cent over the buck leaving 63 per cent under that line. The top bunch of age-verified, green 761-lb. tans and blacks brought $1.09 ($829). Around the average some 761-lb. Simm-Xs sold for 97 cents ($738) and the 793-lb. (Char-Simms stalled at 89 cents ($705).


The dollar mark benchmark for (8-weight) steers was surpassed by 39 per cent. The peak was pushed to $1.06 for the 829-lb. age-verified and pre-conditioned Char-Simms ($878). Spending 97 cents procured the 853-lb. whites and tans ($819). A little too much age on the 815-lb. Simm-X held him to 61 cents ($497). Heifers at 8s were clustered in the low 90s, led by the 805-lb. Simm at 93 cents ($749) and trailed by the 820-lb. Simm-X at 75 cents ($615). The 9-weight heifer was a 920-lb. Simm at 76 cents ($699) and the bigger ones were within a couple of cents, except for the 1020-lb. Simm that might have had some maternal experience, so that limited her to 57 cents ($581).


Reports on fats from the auction rings had the peaks at 86 cents.

Ashern cows with a little age were in the 40s. For the 1675-lb. Char they put up 38 cents ($636). The skinny 1260-lb. Char-Simm stopped at 30 cents ($378). It was a 47 cents final bid for the 1224-lb. Angus-Xs showing a touch of bark. ($575). The young and age-verified moved up into the 50s alongside the 1520-lb. Simms carrying certificates at 52 cents ($790). Heiferettes hit 59 cents for the likes of the1350-lb. Red Simm ($796). and heifers went to 65 cents on a 1230-lb. Angus-Simm ($799)

Older bulls averaged 49 cents and the young 1235-lb. Char was bid up to 65 cents ($803).

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