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Auction activity holds up well during pandemic

Cargill resuming operations at High River is seen as supportive

As Manitoba cattle auctions continued to deal with restrictions placed on them due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pipestone Livestock Sales has held up quite well, according to auctioneer Brock Taylor.

“It’s been pretty good out in this area. We have a pretty good set of buyers and they let you know when they’re coming,” he said.

With the pandemic, cattle auctions allowed in only necessary employees and cattle buyers during sales, in order to meet provincial requirements limiting public gatherings. Truckers, ranchers and the general public were barred from attending auctions in person for the time being.

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One of the province’s smaller auction houses, Pipestone runs its sales every second week. Ahead of its May 1 auction, Taylor expected lighter cattle, weighing 650 lbs. and less, would be steady to strong.

“Cattle weighing 800-900 lbs. are going to be steady to a little under pressure, depending on the condition of them,” he added.

Taylor said Pipestone will keep up with its auction every second week until sometime in mid-June. At that time, the auction will take a break for the summer.

Looking at the province’s auctions from April 24 to 30, lighter feeder steers (600 lbs. and under) ranged from a low of $155 per hundredweight (cwt) for 400- to 500-pounders at Gladstone to $267/cwt in the same weight category at Brandon. Lighter feeder heifers were as low as $152.50/cwt in the same weight category at Gladstone, running up to $227/cwt at Grunthal for 300- to 400-pounders.

Among heavier livestock, feeder steers were as low as $125/cwt in the 900- to 1,000-lb. weight class at Brandon and reached $195/cwt in the 700- to 800-lb. range at Winnipeg. Feeder heifers hit a low of $100/cwt for those in the 900- to 1,000-lb. category at Gladstone, and ran up to $188/cwt at Winnipeg in the 600- to 700-pounder category.

News that the Cargill slaughterhouse at High River, Alta. is resuming operations on a limited basis will be supportive of the cattle market. The plant, which closed a few weeks ago when about half of its workforce contracted COVID-19, will reopen May 4 with one shift per day. Cargill’s facility provides about 36 per cent of Canada’s meat.

About the author

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Glen Hallick - MarketsFarm

Glen Hallick writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. He previously reported for Postmedia newspapers in southern Manitoba and the province’s Interlake region.

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