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Glen Nicoll’s Manitoba Roundup – for Feb. 19, 2009

In response to producers who tracked me down, we’ l l be endeavouring to get you the price breakdowns you desire and get back at the Manitoba Roundup. The professional opinion is that I’m not up to 14-hour days bouncing down the road. So instead of plugging in the truck I’ll be plugging into live sales on the Internet.

The market had just started to warm up to the friendlier COOL provisions in the final rule released a couple of weeks ago. Those changes were developed by the outgoing Bush administration and have been put on hold under the latest proclamation by the Obama administration.

Dissent to the change is coming from the desks of the Democrat senators on the final draft of COOL rules. With perpetual opponent of Canadian product Senator Byron Dorgan leading the charge, six other senators including four from North Dakota and Minnesota wanted Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to drop the provision that allowed Canadian cattle moving direct to slaughter cattle to qualify under the multiple-country label. That provision had eased the price pressure on mature and fed cattle going south.

The USDA inventory at the first of the year showed a cow herd, calf crop and overall herd that was down two per cent from 2008. Our Canadian inventory as of January should be out in a couple of weeks. The cow numbers are expected to decline due to the cow slaughter that is roaring along at a rate not seen since the mid-1980s.

BLEACHER VIEW

Last week’s listings in Ashern had 60 mature slaughter cattle and 54 feeders, the big volumes as usual for this time of year in 7-and 6-weight steers and heifers at 6s. Their 1000-head runs with just about 300 cows seem to have dried up. We caught the sale from head to tail but some of the weight breaks were short on supply, coming in around half a page. That may have included a couple of small bunches. By the sound of the orders announced at the end of the bidding, it was the east and the south equally on the push. Compared to the previous week, there was a couple of cents lacking on all weights of feeders. The cows were down a bit on average as there wasn’t a mountain of age-verified papers coming across the clerk’s desk as there had been previously.

A small herd dispersal finished up the sale with the March-April calving exotic-British cows at an average of 1300 lbs. that brought an average of $571. They topped at $775 for the 1340-lb. Angus-Simms (47 cents) about 8 cents over the average slaughter bid. In the middle were the 1216-lb. Char-Xs at $680 or the May-calving 1444-lb. Angus-X at $650 (45 cents/lb.). A few pairs put the final bid closer to $800 with the biggest calf around 200 lbs. A skinny 1050-lb. Angus-X pair traded for $775 and the 1270-lb. Simm-X outfit sold for $675.

CALVES

Grass fever wasn’t as apparent as it had been the week earlier. About 4 cents wasn’t as available as it had been the week prior on the lighter calves. Four-weight steers weren’t able to reach the $1.20 benchmark as 32% sold under $1.15 and 68% traded over $1.15. The added pounds on the 475-lb. Char-Xs contributed to a $1.19. final bid ($565 per head). A 465-lb. black-white-face stopped at $1.12 ($521). Five-weight steers ranged up a little higher as the 5112 Lim-Xs ran out of bids at $1.11 ($592). Plain put the 515-lb. Char at $1.08 ($556) and being bulls stopped 597-lb. Chars at 96 cents ($573).

Six-weight steers didn’t have any trouble topping the buck as they averaged $1.03 with 58% on top of 95 cents and 42% under 95 cents. The $1.13 peak was on a little package of 625-lb. smokeys ($706). Heavier Herf-Simms at 699-lbs. were holding the dollar as well ($699) and the short 655 -lb. Lim-X bull ran out of interest at 95 cents ($622). Sevens had a $1 average. The peak of $1.05 was put forward for the pre-conditioned, ageverified 701-lb. Char-smokeys ($736). The plateau around the buck saw 99 cents buying a half-ring full of 764-lb. Salers-Simms ($756). The narrow discount started on the 704-lb. smokey-Chars at 96 cents ($676) and the defect wasn’t readily apparent on the 786-lb. Chars at 79 cents ($621).

Grass is still 3 months away here but even in the central U. S. where it could be just days away, they had prices very similar to ours plus the exchange according to the Internet sale from Nebraska. A ring full of 357-lb. Angus steers brought US$1.27 (C$1.52) or C$542 a head. Black steers at 632 lbs. were bringing US$1.06 (C$1.27) or C$802 per head and the 644-lb. Angus bulls moved on at US97 cents (C$1.16)or C$748 per head. Some 585-lb. black baldie heifers sold for US$1.01 (C$1.21)or C$708 per head.

Four-weight heifers in Ashern had most stay under the dollar, with 10% trading over 95 cents. and a top of $1.01 for the 425-lb. smokey-Chars ($429). The 468-lb. Red Angus-Xs were right at the 94-cent average ($483), and the 372-lb. Longhorn-Xs brought 80 cents ($297). Five-weight heifers topped at $1.01 on the 507-lb. smokey-Chars ($512) with the middle around the 568-lb. Chars at 94 cents ($534) and the lanky 515-lb. Simm-Xs stalled at 88 cents ($453).

Heifers that weighed in the 6s sold to a 92-cent average with the dollar line in sight but not in reach, 89% were on top of 90 cents. They had some 615-lb. Herf-Simms selling at 99 cents ($609) and the 695-lb. black-white-faces finished up at 94 cents ($653). Sevens had the listings stop at 97 cents, the ageverified pre-conditioned 790-lb. smokeys were selling for 92 cents-($727). A slightly narrow frame might have been the reason they stopped at 85 cents on the 720 lb. smokey-Simms ($612).

YEARLINGS

It was a little higher on the 8-weight steers as they topped at $1.03 for the age-verified and pre-conditioned 809 smokeys ($833). Some fleshy 820-lb. smokey-Simms settled at 99 cents ($812). The 900-pounder was a Gelbvieh-X at 80 cents ($720). Heifers had the 911-lb. Char-Simms at 88 cents ($892) TEAM Electronic Auction out of Calgary had a yearling heavy sale with 8-weight steers averaging a dollar and the 7-weight heifers at 95 cents.

SLAUGHTER

On the fat side of things Manitoba marts topped out at 89 cents. The Alberta average was 87 cents as Nebraska went down to US80 cents live (C96 cents) or US$1.31 on the rail (C$1.57). Fed cattle exports were up to 16,000 head, in the first week of February double that of early December. Mature exports have held at the 5,000/week level of late.

Ashern cows had followed suit from the feeders with 3 cents coming off for a 39-cent average with the heiferettes out of the calculation. Age-verified cows with some cover had winning bids up to a top of 50 cents on the 1460-lb. smokey ($730) No paper and a little less cover kept the 1719-lb. Char-X at 41 cents ($705). It was probably the shortage of good hay in the area that had some skinny cows coming in to help keep the average low. The 905-lb. Gelbvieh-X sold for 23 cents ($208) and the protruding hip bones brought a 1210-lb. Herf-Simm to 15 cents, ($181) Heifers ran to 65 cents on the green 995-lb. age-verified Salers-Xs ($646).

Bull demand seems to have fallen off as we don’t hear 60 cents anymore, but they were paying up to 59 cents. Canadian cow slaughter was 16,000 head/week about 8% higher than last year at this time. The mature export number is consistent with the volume through the fall at just under 4000 head.

Bulls in Ashern didn’t seem to come with an abundance of paper. The average worked out to 57 cents and all the bids stopped just shy of 60 cents. The youth and paper on the 1490-lb. Char kept him along with a few others at 58 cents ($864) and the 2210-lb. Angus held out for 53 cents ($1171). No bark on the 1230-lb. black brought him to 41 cents ($504) and the green 1385 Char-Simm stopped at 32 cents ($443).

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