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Cattle prices hold steady against strength in loonie

Values could soften in fall if grain prices stay strong

Manitoba cattle markets are generally holding firm in mid-May, although the seasonal slowdown in numbers moving through the yards led to some choppiness from animal to animal.

“Some cattle were stronger, some weren’t,” said Dave Nickel of Gladstone Auction Mart, adding it was hard to get a handle on the market direction.

“The best cattle are through the system, and it’s just odds and ends left,” said Nickel. The better-quality animals were still seeing solid demand, but there weren’t many to choose from and Nickel saw little rhyme or reason to the activity.

Demand for feeder cattle was primarily coming from the west and locally. With the smaller numbers, it’s harder to get a load together to go to Ontario, but Nickel said there was still some demand for eastern cattle.

A firmer tone in U.S. futures over the past month was somewhat supportive for the Manitoba cattle market. However, the Canadian dollar has also shown some strength, limiting the supportive influence of the futures.

Overall, “the market is staying fairly steady,” according to Nickel.

The butcher market was looking solid as well, with the summer hamburger season typically providing some underlying support. Summer also means most auction yards will soon shift to a reduced summer schedule.

With activity at auction yards slowing down for the summer, ranchers are directing their attention to pasture conditions.

“It’s greening up, but we could use a rain,” said Nickel adding that “if it doesn’t rain shortly, the grass will be short this summer.”

Grain prices are strong, which could lead to a softer cattle market by the fall. However, if this year’s grain crops turn out in good shape and feed costs move down, that would be beneficial for the cattle industry, said Nickel.

About the author

Columnist

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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