Quality in cattle, especially in feeder steers, was a bit harder to find as Manitoba livestock auction found during the week ending March 25.
Heavyweight feeder steers had less of a presence than in previous weeks, with only Winnipeg Livestock Sales reporting sales of feeders weighing more than 1,000 lbs. Meanwhile, lightweight feeder steers topped out at $275 per hundredweight and feeder heifer prices saw a slight drop-off.
“The bigger groups bring pretty good money still, but definitely quality is an issue right now. A lot of (leftover) cattle (are) coming out and that affects the market,” Harold Unrau of Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart said.
In total, 9,400 head of cattle went through the rings compared to 12,900 in the previous week which benefited from warmer temperatures.
On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), June live cattle contracts, which are now traded more than the April contracts, were at a week-long high of US$121.125/cwt on March 26, but close to the average price since February. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle contracts were trading at US$149/cwt and have stayed sideways since mid-January.
“Our high feed costs and the (Canadian) dollar is fairly high. And the futures suck,” Unrau said when asked what was affecting prices. “A lot of guys are trying to sell (in) private right off the farm more than usual. Of course, that will affect us a little bit.”
As for prices, Unrau doesn’t expect too much change.
“I think it will stay fairly steady over the next month or so,” he said. “I think (the amount of cattle) is going to taper off now and it will be a normal spring.”
Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) announced on March 26 it is “welcoming” news of the federal, provincial and territorial governments agreeing to retroactively remove the reference margin limit (RML) from AgriStability, starting in the 2020 production year and continuing until March 31, 2023.
“MBP believes the removal of the RML should help to increase the predictability and bankability of the AgriStability program and ultimately make it more equitable, particularly for cow-calf producers, but also others in the sector,” MBP president Tyler Fulton said in a release.
However, a proposal to increase the compensation rate from 70 to 80 per cent did not go ahead as none of the Prairie provinces were willing to pay the additional costs.
The deadline to apply for AgriStability has been extended to June 30.