Cattle market holds strong in face of challenges ahead

Current dry conditions and high prices for feed add pressure

Despite recently backing off, Manitoba’s cattle market maintained some strength for the week ended April 8, according to Gladstone Auction Mart auctioneer Tyler Slawinski.

The market, he said, is not as strong as it was at its peak about four weeks ago.

“Fewer cattle are moving. Everybody is either cleaning out or they have cleaned out due to calving,” Slawinski said, noting some producers have been “resetting” with spring now here.

There was a demand for fat cattle just before Easter, he said. “That got some incentive going to get some moves. That created optimism and the feeder cattle followed suit.

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“We are seeing quite a few heifers moving now. It was slow with heifers all winter.”

Whether the current dry conditions continue across much of Manitoba will be a major factor.

“Lots of Manitoba is dry. Lots of Saskatchewan is dry. Maybe some of these cattle will end up being ‘dry-lotted’ as opposed to going to grass,” Slawinski suggested, noting high feed prices have only compounded the issue.

“If we saw some weakness in feed prices, that would strengthen the cattle that much more,” the auctioneer said.

One saving grace for the provincial cattle industry Slawinski cited was that “hamburger season is right around the corner.”

There have been some highs in slaughter cows and bulls, he said, but not everyone is completely satisfied.

“A lot of guys would like to see a little bit more for their slaughter cattle,” he said. “It’s definitely better where it is as opposed to being a lot lower.”

Following Gladstone’s April 6 sale, he expects to have a few more auctions with 500 to 600 head before activity begins to wind down for the summer.

Besides the 475 cattle at Gladstone, the Ashern Auction Mart sold 1,418 head; Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart, 774; Ste. Rose Auction Mart, 1,355; and Heartland Livestock Services’ Brandon auction, 700, while its Virden facility had 1,166. Winnipeg Livestock Sales cancelled its auction for Good Friday, as did the Killarney Auction Mart for Easter Monday.

Feeder cattle prices for the week were $162-$190 per hundredweight for heavier steers and $204-$230 for lighter steers. Among heifers, prices for the heavies were $151-$168/cwt, with the lighter ones at $184-$209. Compared to the previous week, most prices shifted up or down by a few dollars.

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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