As the drought in Manitoba continued to take hold on the province’s cattle industry, Tyler Slawinski, an auctioneer for the Ashern and Gladstone auction marts, noted two important points.
One: some producers in the Interlake region have completely dispersed their cattle because of feed shortages and high prices, as well as the lack of water to sustain their herds. Two: the provincial cattle market was about two weeks ahead of schedule because of those conditions.
“The yearling run is now, as opposed to September-October,” Slawinski said, adding there’s also going to be a major downside to the overall number of cattle headed to market.
“There’s going to be a lot of good breeding stock ending up on the meat shelves this year,” he said, noting producers are patiently waiting for government assistance with the latest crisis, especially those in the Interlake.
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced on July 22 that help was on the way for drought-stricken producers to restart their herds.
“These guys have been battling high-priced feed, a couple of dry years, and before that they were flooded out. One of these is going to be the last straw for the camel’s back,” Slawinski said.
That said, he added not everything has turned for the worst, as there was one bright point at the Ashern auction on July 21.
“I thought the yearling trade was very strong. The calf market is very strong right now, as on that side of the market things are not quite flooded yet.”
However, he said, there has been a fair bit of slaughter cattle from the U.S. coming into Canada to be killed, which will lead to a backup at slaughter plants in Canada as other cattle are held back. That will cut into their margins, “as the price of protein and energy is rising through the roof.”
There were three other sales in Manitoba, along with Ashern, at Grunthal, Brandon and Virden. There were no sales for the week ended July 21 at Winnipeg, Ste. Rose, Killarney, and Gladstone.
Gladstone is having an auction on July 27, Slawinski said, while Ashern will be closed that week. Killarney is slated to have a special sale on July 26.