Manitoba auction yards were very busy again during the week ended Nov. 8, according to Robin Hill of Heartland Livestock Services at Virden, who noted the fall run should wrap up near the end of the month.
“Volume was great this week,” he said, adding that over 5,000 cattle went through the auction yard at Virden this week. “This is probably going to continue for a week or two, and then by the end of November, we’ll probably see some slower volume.”
More volume, due to harvest operations wrapping up across Manitoba, means more pressure on transportation. Hill said there were some issues this past week getting trucks to go out east, but it was business as usual out west.
“Everybody says they’re having some trouble finding trucks, especially to go out east,” he said. “They are the hardest trucks to find because of the length of time it takes to get out there.
“However, western trucks are available to go and take the cattle back and forth.”
Looking at feed prices, U.S. corn and Canadian barley continue to be priced very low compared to the previous year — which is favourable for producers.
The December corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade closed at US$4.3475 per bushel as of Nov. 11, seeing a slight bump in prices after falling to a three-year low the previous week.
Meanwhile, Lethbridge barley was priced at C$149.35 per tonne as of Nov. 8.
Despite the logistical issues, Hill said demand was strong from the usual areas.
“Demand is coming from everywhere,” he said. “We’ve had eastern, western and local demand. The guys are ready locally to feed some cattle.”
According to Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development’s final crop report, growers across the province have adequate to above-average feed supplies going into the winter.
The U.S. continued to be a strong buyer for Manitoba’s calves during the week, especially with a considerably weak Canadian dollar. However, because the trip to the U.S. is longer than out west, a lot of U.S.-bought calves will be custom fed in Canada until they are ready to be moved.
“The U.S. is not buying a whole bunch of calves and sending them there,” Hill said. “A lot of calves will be backgrounded for 60 to 90 days before they go. I think there will be a lot of U.S. orders on the market, but custom fed in the western provinces.”
The Canadian dollar was valued at US95.9 cents at the open last Monday, but declined most of the week due to strong U.S. economic data, and eventually closed Friday afternoon at US95.44 cents.
As for prices, butcher cattle saw another drop, mostly due to the high volume on the market.
“We’ve seen the cows and bulls slightly lower again this week,” Hill said. “Prices are maybe a penny lower due to volume. We saw over 400 bulls and cows this week.
“We could see prices slide a little more yet.”