The fall cattle run is off to a slow start in Manitoba this year, as improving pasture conditions kept some cattle away from the markets a little longer than normal. Prices for what was moving during the week ended Oct. 5 were steady at most markets, although seasonal pressure should pick up in the weeks ahead.
“We got some grain, it grew a little grass… and kept some of the cattle at home,” said Dave Nickel of Gladstone Auction Mart. “I was expecting the calves to come in lighter and faster, but this rain took the pressure off.”
Demand for what was moving was steady, according to Nickel. He wasn’t sure how long that would last, but noted sellers were generally happy with the current prices.
About 10,000 cattle moved through the rings in the major auction yards in the province during the week. Top-end prices were generally steady, with only small adjustments from yard to yard depending on the quality on hand.
Good-quality lighter-weight feeder steers saw prices above $300 per hundredweight in some cases, although average prices were in the $200s. Heavier cattle saw prices edge down, for the most part, with quality an issue in some cases due to the wet conditions.
The moisture that hit pasture land came a little too late for another hay cut, but was enough to keep cattle out a little longer. Those animals will eventually come to town, and Nickel said there is still anticipation of tight feed supplies this winter.
Many producers are making plans to “cull their cows down to fit their feed pile, because feed is too expensive,” said Nickel. He expected the auction yard would be running at full capacity by the end of October.
“It will be interesting to see what actually happens.”
Cattle futures in the U.S. held relatively steady during the week, with a softer tone in the live cattle market and a firmer tone in feeder cattle.