Bucking the trend of declining numbers of cattle going to auction, Ashern Auction Mart is still witnessing increasing numbers and expecting more.
Ashern had numbers jump by 21 per cent for its Nov. 28 sale, according to manager Kirk Kiesman, who said he’s expecting more for its Dec. 5 sale.
“I would say we are going to be 2,500 head this upcoming week and 1,500 to 1,800 the following week,” he commented, adding the numbers will likely drop come the Dec. 19 auction continuing into the new year.
During the week of Nov. 26, 11,227 head went through Manitoba’s eight major cattle auctions, compared to 15,055 the previous week. The 25 per cent drop largely marks the end of the fall rush.
Kiesman said the fall rush often ends in Ashern a few weeks after the seven others.
According to reports issued by the major auctions, the biggest drop over the week was at Ste. Rose Auction Mart, with 1,320 fewer head sold Nov. 29. The previous sale on Nov. 22 had 2,808.
Heartland Livestock Services at Virden had a drop of 905 head, to 2,239, for its Nov. 28 auction. Grunthal Auction Mart had 990 cattle auctioned off at its Nov. 27 sale, down by 782.
Auction prices have been steady for feeders over the last month, Kiesman said.
“The last four weeks, if you took the average, it probably hasn’t changed too much, except for some variability and quality.”
On the low end, cattle prices at Ashern ranged from $160 to $200 per hundredweight (cwt), and $185 to $262/cwt on the high end.
At the other seven auctions, the low end ranged from $100 to $240/cwt, with the high end from $155 to $280/cwt.
In terms of condition, Kiesman said, weaning weights have not changed much this year compared to previous years — maybe 15 pounds lighter, even when taking into account the grass conditions.
Looking toward the new year, Kiesman was unsure of what prices will do.
“I’ve been managing for six years and for three of those years prices went up and for three they went down.”
He said he would like to see prices remain steady or strengthen.
“The cows, we’ve definitely seen a drop. There’s a chance they’re going to be higher in the new year on the feeder side.”