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Autumn gradually arriving at Manitoba cattle markets

A softer slaughter cattle market isn’t unusual right now


Volumes are slowly increasing at cattle markets across Manitoba as more auction marts open for the fall season. Nearly 3,000 cattle made their way before buyers during the week ended Sept. 8, compared to a little over 1,000 animals the week before.

“The good-quality yearlings were very decent; we had about 100 new-crop calves here this week, so we’re just getting started,” said Robin Hill of Heartland Livestock at Virden, adding the animals arrived at a good time.

“It’s been a while since large drafts of yearlings sold at a live auction.”

Around the province, live cattle and feeder cattle prices generally improved by $3-$5. Many of the purchases came from local operators as well as buyers from the west.

More cattle will come to market as the month progresses and farmers get off their combines, Hill said. “Definitely by the end of the month.”

Prices for butcher cows and bulls slipped a bit around the province.

At one outlet, prices for cows fell $10 as ranchers brought in a large number of animals due to the dry weather. Bulls traded a little easier, though.

Some softening on the slaughter side is typical for this time of year, Hill said. “The packers know there’s lots of cows that are going to come to town… This is when they come. Usually we see a slide in the kill market this time of year.”

Strength in the U.S. futures market occurred early in the week. On Thursday, wholesale beef prices turned lower.

Hill noted the rising Canadian dollar was also cutting into ranchers’ profits.

“On the feeder cattle, it’s not going to help in the marketplace,” he said. “We are seeing the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) go higher today but with the dollar increasing we haven’t gained anything probably.”

On the feed side, Hill said there wasn’t as much grass for cattle to eat these days. “Pasture conditions are drier than they have been over the past five years.”

Moving forward, Hill advised farmers to call ahead and book their cattle, as bookings are already being made for sales down the road. “So there should be a lot of cattle coming to town.”

Producers are also reminded to get their premise ID numbers from the government this fall. The measure becomes mandatory in 2018.

About the author

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Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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