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Cattle market keeps holding steady as summer draws near

Recent rains haven’t relieved producers’ drought anxiety

Although traffic is starting to slow down at Manitoba’s auction marts for the summer, business held steady for the week ended June 8.

“The market numbers this week, for those markets that had sales, deliveries were actually higher than anticipated,” said Rick Wright of Heartland Buying Order Co.

About 1,913 head were run through the province’s auction marts. Only four of the eight main Manitoba auction marts held sales.

Changing weather conditions played into this week’s run. Large areas of Manitoba received much-needed precipitation; however, some producers were still concerned about pasture conditions, which led them to sell.

Cattle producers are “still culling heavily, because producers are worried about pasture conditions; they’re also worried about hay,” Wright said, adding he doesn’t think the hay crop will be anything above average.

Wright expects throughout the summer there could be heavier numbers of cattle coming onto the market than seen in years past. While the latest rains helped replenish pastures and dugouts, there is still concern that if the moisture doesn’t continue conditions could turn dry again.

“Normally the yearlings don’t come (to sale) until the last week of August and into September,” he said. “But if it gets dry we could see cattle pulled off the pastures earlier than what they (normally) are.”

Prices held generally steady during the week, especially for grass-weight cattle, according to Wright. There was a two- to four-cent/lb. increase for heifers. The finished cattle market didn’t fare as well, as a drop that started a month ago continued. Over the last month, prices have dropped about 20 cents/lb.

“For those that are finishing cattle, whether it’s in Manitoba or the West, profits start to shrink on those cattle and it’ll affect their buying patterns of what they restock with down the road,” Wright said, adding he can’t see any relief coming soon for the fed cattle market.

Overall, the entire market complex is down from where it was last year at this time, according to Wright.

About the author

CNSC

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

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