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Western Prairie Cattle Culled Due To Drought

The numb er of cattle making their way to the auction yards in Manitoba continued to decline during the week ended June 19. Prices for cattle were said to have held steady, but that was due mainly to the pull-back in the value of the Canadian dollar.

“This is the time of year where activity at the auction yards really begins to slow down,” said Rick Wright, a livestock order buyer and cattle broker for Cattlex Ltd., at Hamiota. “At the most, there is probably one or two more weeks left before the majority of the auction yards in Manitoba go into their summer shutdown.”

During the month of July, the auction yards at Brandon, Virden and Winnipeg will likely be the only ones having an auction once per week, he said.

Most of the other auction yards are expected to start up in the first or second week of August, but until then the number of cattle coming to market are likely to slow to a crawl, Wright said.

Buyers in the East, West and U. S. were said to have covered most of their needs for the time being or have contracts in place with producers. “The packing industry is never without,” he said.

Prices for cows sold at the Manitoba auction yards were barely steady, Wright said, noting that it was the drop in the price of the Canadian dollar that prevented values from declining.

CULLING SOONER

He cautioned that the price of cows will likely continue to ease given that there are a lot more of those animals available in the western Prairies than there would be normally, due to the drought conditions.

“Producers there are culling cows sooner than they have in previous years,” Wright said. “Essentially there is lots of supply, so the demand in the U. S. for these animals is also beginning to slow.”

Wright also noted that demand for grass cattle has also begun to slow, with most of the producers who were going to turn these cattle out, already having done so.

The word on the street, he noted, is that cattle producers are extremely nervous about how long the pastures are going to last, given the lack of moisture, and there is also concern about the poor start to the hay harvest.

“There are worries about whether the producers are going to have enough hay to get the animals through the winter already,” Wright said. “If the pastures go, that just adds to the problem.”

Anytime producers have to write a cheque for anything additional, like extra feed to supplement livestock rations, that comes right out of their bottom line, he said.

Wright also confirmed that there are still a few producers in select areas of the province who are reluctant to vaccinate and age-verify cattle.

Currently, he said, only about 29 per cent of Manitoba’s calves were being age-verified.

“This is an improvement from last year to this time, but it is still not enough,” Wright said.

“For the vaccination program everyone has their own ideas of what needs to be done, but until producers in Manitoba wake up and understand that we are a net exporter of our calves, the demand for Manitoba calves will be selective from certain areas and from certain producers,” he said. “We need to have every buyer in the country interested in buying inventory out of Manitoba and I have to say that is not the case at this point.”

As for the age verification issue, Wright said, it’s all about valueadded.

Age verification has opened the doors for a few producers, he said, but others are expecting a separate cheque for taking this step.

“While the program is still in its infancy, I firmly believe that in the next few years, age verification will be part of the price discovery formula, and if the animals are not age-verified, the cattle will be facing discounts,” Wright said.

In Alberta, he noted, age verification is mandatory. “The big question is, how will buyers from Alberta treat the non-age-verified cattle that are imported from outside the province?” he said, noting that it was unlikely those buyers will treat them like Alberta calves.

“Everyone is looking for valueadded, and value-added will open the door to more markets,” 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: Holiday schedule: Closed in Ashern until mid-August.

Gladstone Auction Mart: No data is available. Holiday schedule: The last sale will be held July 7. Auctions will start again on August 12.

Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart: No data is available. Holiday schedule: There will not be a cattle auction the first week of July. They will be held every other week until mid-August.

Heartland Livestock Services, Brandon: A total of 742 cattle were on offer in Brandon during the week. A1-A2 steers went for $80-$83; D1-D2 cows, $40-$46.50; feeder cows, $30-$39; shells, $20-$30; and good bulls, $56-$62.50.

Feeder steers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. sold for $82-$85; 800-900 lbs., $90-$96.75; 700-800 lbs., $95-$104; 600-700 lbs., $100-$113.25; 500-600 lbs., $105-$115; 400-500 lbs., $105-$113; and 300-400 lbs., $100-$109.

Feeder heifers weighing 800-900 lbs. sold for $82-$90; 700-800 lbs., $82-$95.50; 600-700 lbs., $92-$105; 500-600 lbs., $98-$107.50; 400-500 lbs., $98-$107; and 300-400 lbs., $95-$102.

Holiday schedule: Auctions will be held on Tuesdays only during the summer months.

Heartland Livestock Services, Virden: There were about 572 cattle sold at the sale held on June 17.

Feeder steers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. brought $72-$77; 800-900 lbs., $59-$89; 700-800 lbs., $87-$106; 600-700 lbs., $87-$107; 500-600 lbs., $77-$112; and 400-500 lbs., $101-$116.50.

Feeder heifers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. traded from $75 to $84; 800-900 lbs., $83-$84; 700-800 lbs., $71-$98.50; 600-700 lbs., $84-$102.50; 500-600 lbs., $80-$105.50; 400-500 lbs., $60-$107 and 300-400 lbs., $90-$105.

Holiday schedule: There will be no changes to the cattle auctions during the summer months.

Pipestone Livestock Sales: There were 310 cattle sold at the sale held on June 15. Included in the sale were 39 slaughter animals and 107 feeders.

In the slaughter market, D1 cows went for $40-$44 and D2, $34-$39. D3 cows sold for $15-$29 and bulls, $54-$63.50.

Feeder steers weighing 800-900 lbs. fetched $85-$94; 700-800 lbs., $88-$97; 600-700 lbs., $95-$105.50; 500-600 lbs., $102-$117.25; 400-500 lbs., $102-$117; and 300-400 lbs., $100-$119.

Feeder heifers weighing 800-900 lbs., $78-$88.50; 700-800 lbs., $85-$98; 600-700 lbs., $85-$108; 500-600 lbs., $90-$109.50; 400-500 lbs., $90-$110; and 300-400 lbs., $90-$104.

Holiday schedule: The last sale of the summer will be on June 22. The schedule will start again on Aug. 10.

Ste. Rose Auction Mart: No data available. Holiday schedule: There will be no auctions during the month of July.

Taylor Auctions, Melita: The sale held on Thursday, June 18 resulted in 128 cattle being sold.

In the slaughter market, A1-A2 steers over 1,000 lbs. traded at $79-$83.50; A1-A2 heifers over 850 lbs., $76-$82; D1 and D2 cows sold from $38 to $52; D3 and D5 cows, $25-$37; and good bulls, $55-$67.50.

Feeder steers in the 900-to 1,000-lb. weight category ranged from $85 to $98.50; 800-900 lbs., $90-$105; 700-800 lbs., $93-$108.50; 600-700 lbs., $95-$110; 500-600 lbs., $100-$112; 400-500 lbs., $105-$113.50; and 300-400 lbs., $105-$115.

Feeder heifers weighing 800-900 lbs. fetched $75-$94; 700-800 lbs., $78-$97; 600-700 lbs., $82-$98.50; 500-600 lbs., $85-$102; 400-500 lbs., $88-$105.50; and 300-400 lbs., $90-$107.

Holiday schedule: There will be no sales during the month of July.

Winnipeg Livestock Sales: There were about 562 head of cattle sold at the sales during the week ended Friday, June 19.

In the slaughter market, dry fed cows brought $40-43; good fleshed, $33-$40; lean, $25-$33; young age-verified, $40-$48; young, feeder types, $48-$53; and good bulls $50-$62.50.

Feeder steers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. brought $82-$92.50; 800-900 lbs., $85-$93.50; 700-800 lbs., $90-$97; 600-700 lbs., $100-109.50; 500-600 lbs., $102-$112; and 400-500 lbs., $105-$117.

Heifers weighing 900-1,000 lbs. ranged from $75-$85.50; 800-900 lbs., $80-$88; 700-800 lbs., $85-$90; and 600-700 lbs., $88-$98.

Holiday schedule: Cattle auctions will be held once a week on Tuesdays during the summer months.

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