Fall cattle run now well underway

A stronger loonie limited buying interest from the U.S.

With the fall run underway, Manitoba’s cattle auctions saw a busy week with well over 13,000 head sold.

“The auction barn was very full. A lot of cattle are starting to move now,” Tyler Slawinski of Gladstone Auction Mart said of its Oct. 14 sale.

Most of the cattle at Gladstone were to be shipped to the east and the west, he said, with very few heading to the United States.

That might have had to do with the strength in the Canadian dollar for most of the week. The loonie pushed over 76 U.S. cents, only to fall back to 75.59 when trading closed on Oct. 15.

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Also, live cattle futures in the U.S. were down during the week. With a second wave of reported cases of COVID-19 spreading through the U.S., lockdown and social distancing measures have been imposed in some states, creating new concerns for beef demand.

Despite the fall run, Slawinski said volumes aren’t quite getting to what they used to be, with Gladstone seeing all-time lows.

“There’s an abundance of feed. It’s been four to five years since everyone had enough feed,” he said.

Slawinski suggested cattle ranchers could be taking the opportunity to retain their heifers or buy some more cows.

Of those cattle sold, he said, “We’re seeing a lot of five- to six-weight cattle, which is typically right on track.”

Feeder steers that were in the 500- to 600-lb. class at Gladstone sold for $160-$230 per hundredweight (cwt). Feeder heifers brought in $190-$237.

Elsewhere in the province, the same class of steers were $190-$236/cwt at the Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart, and $210-$240 at the Ste. Rose Auction Mart. As for Heartland Livestock Services, those steers went for $213-$224 at Brandon and $204-$225 at Virden.

The 500- to 600-pound feeder heifers were $150-$200/cwt at Grunthal, $170-$190 at Ste. Rose, $189-$200 at Brandon and $172-$192 at Virden.

In comparison, 500- to 600-pound feeder steers garnered $208-$228/cwt in Saskatchewan for the week ended Oct. 9. The heifers went for $179-$192.

Given the overall market strength Slawinski has seen at Gladstone, he believes some older ranchers might take the opportunity to retire.

Slawinski expects the fall run to continue into December.

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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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