The quiet seasonal summer markets persistedat cat-t le yards around Manitoba during the week ended July 31, with most auction sites still shut down for the season. Volumes should start to pick up over the upcoming few weeks, although the fall run is still some time away.
“It’s probably one of the quietest summers we’ve had in awhile,” said Rick Wright, a cattle buyer with Cattlex Ltd. He said a number of auction yards around the province will reopen in the beginning of August, but volumes will still be light until later in the month.
Of the small numbers that did move during the past week, the market for cows was fairly good, considering the exchange rates, said Wright. However, he described the butcher cattle market as “brutal at best.”
“Right across Canada and the U. S., beef sales are slow and the plants have reduced their kills and dropped the pricing,” said Wright. A few feeder yearlings did trade during the week at prices better than had been expected, “but certainly not hitting the break-evens guys will need at the end of the month to get out of the grass cattle they purchased.”
Wright said cattle in the province were doing reasonably well on the pastures, with the cool temperatures helping by keeping the bugs to a minimum. He expected the conception rate for cows would also be good this year, given the lack of heat.
“The early gains look really good, so hopefully it will continue on,” said Wright. However, he said hay was in short supply in some regions, which could lead to herd liquidations in the fall if supplies remain tight. He added that it could also be “touch and go” for the cow-calf producers in terms of having enough pasture.
“The good news is that the corn prices in the U. S. have been dropping significantly, so the feed prices down there will be cheaper, offsetting the higher exchange rate,” said Wright. “At the end of the day, it’s pricing that pays the bills and we’ll need to see a little improvement before the boys start seeing some black ink in the column.”
The hay harvest is about halfway done across the province, said Glenn Friesen, forage specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, and “it’s a bit early to say where things will be for final feed volume for the winter season.”
Currently, “it doesn’t look very good in the dry areas of Manitoba,” said Friesen, pointing to the southwest and northwestern regions of the province. “They’re all fairly dry and yields are well below average.”
In central Manitoba hay yields are a little higher, although quality was average to below average because of untimely rains. Hay crops in eastern Manitoba and the Interlake have been hampered by excessive moisture, said Friesen.
“The yields might be OK, but the quality will be low,” he said adding that wet fields continue to cause harvest delays in those areas. Where the hay crops are short, producers will need to bring in more grain, said Friesen, noting that on-farm reserves were already tight in many areas.
He was also hearing talk of more cattle producers considering liquidating their herds this year. Friesen said the lateness of this year’s grain and oilseed crops, and the generally cool temperatures, could potentially lead to more feed for cattle producers. If any annual crop fields are hit by a damaging frost, the green feed would be welcomed by livestock producers.
FROM THE AUCTION FLOORS
(Note all prices in Cdn. $ per cwt. These prices also generally represent the top one-third of sales reported by the auction yard.)
Ashern Livestock Mart: Holiday Schedule: Closed in Ashern until mid-August.
Gladstone Auction Mart: Holiday Schedule: Closed until August 12.
Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart: Holiday Schedule: Cattle auctions will be held every other week until mid-August.
Heartland Livestock Services, Brandon: A total of 367 cattle were on offer in Brandon during the week. A1-A2 heifers went for $75 to $78; D1-D2 cows $49 to $53.75; feeder cows $38 to $48; shells $30 to $38 and good bulls $58 to $62.50. Feeder steers weighing 900 to 1,000 lbs. brought $88 to $96.50; 800 to 900 lbs. $95 to $103; 700 to 800 lbs. $98 to $104.25; 600 to 700 lbs. $100 to $106.50 and 500 to 600 lbs. $100 to $113. Feeder heifers weighing 800 to 900 lbs. sold for $86 to $93; 700 to 800 lbs. $90 to $100.50 and 600 to 700 lbs. $92 to $103.50. Holiday Schedule: Auctions will be held on Tuesdays only during the summer months.
Heartland Livestock Services, Virden: There is no data available for the sale held on July 29. Holiday Schedule: There will be no changes to the cattle auctions during the summer months.
Pipestone Livestock Sales: Holiday Schedule: Closed until August 10.
Ste. Rose Auction Mart Ltd.: Holiday Schedule: There will be no auctions during the month of July.
Taylor Auctions, Melita, Man.: Holiday Schedule: There will be no auctions during the month of July.
Winnipeg Livestock Sales Ltd.: There were about 260 head of cattle sold at the sale on Tuesday, July 28. In the slaughter market, choice steers and heifers brought $78 to $79.25, select steers and heifers, $73 to $78; dry fed cows $37 to $45; good fleshed $30 to $39; lean $24 to $30; young age verified $45 to $56; and good bulls $49 to $56. Holiday Schedule: Cattle auctions will be held once a week on Tuesdays during the summer months.