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Continued warm spell heats up cattle sales

A stronger loonie has warded off potential cross-border buyers

Unseasonably warm temperatures across Manitoba have kept activity high at cattle auctions this winter.

“It’s been an exceptional run here at Gladstone,” said Tyler Slawinski, Gladstone Auction Mart’s auctioneer. “We traded a lot of cattle, prices were good, and I hope we continue to see that into 2021.”

This week, feeder steers between 600 and 700 lbs. were between $162 and $202.75 per hundredweight. That’s steady when compared to the previous week, when the same weight class was around $165-$208.25.

Slawinski noted some feedlots had deferred orders until after the holidays, possibly due to staffing shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, local orders have kept prices steady.

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Rising feed grain prices have been a limiting factor for cattle prices. According to data from Prairie Ag Hotwire, feed barley prices for elevator delivery were between $4.45 and $4.52 per bushel on Dec. 8, near year highs.

“When feed grains are up, cattle are down, and vice versa,” Slawinski said. “But there’s still demand for top-quality cattle, and I hope that continues into the new year.”

Bred cattle sales have also been strong into winter, as some producers rebuild their herds after last year’s feed shortages. Slawinski expected a steady flow of cattle to pass through auctions in the new year.

The Canadian dollar has also kept pressure on cattle prices, as a strong local currency discourages international buyers.

The loonie has been around 78 U.S. cents for most of the week, as the crude oil-sensitive currency has been supported by optimism in oil markets, sparked by positive developments in COVID-19 vaccines.

About the author

Glacier MarketsFarm

Marlo Glass

Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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