The Manitoba cattle market is starting to see good demand and rising prices for its animals as the fall season gets fully underway.
Approximately 6,580 head were sold at the province’s eight major auction marts during the week ended Oct. 6. Generally speaking, prices were higher in most classes.
“We’re seeing the demand on the bigger calves especially,” said Allan Munroe of Killarney Auction Mart.
Interest for the smaller cattle seems to be coming from local buyers, he noted.
On the charts, feeder steers in the 300- to 400-lb. classes were up by a minimum of $10-$15 per hundredweight at many of the outlets. Bids approached $300 in some cases.
Heavier-weight steers were steady to slightly stronger.
Certain classes were also drawing much higher bids than the same time last year, Munroe said.
“Our seven-weights (700 lbs.), they’re 50 cents a pound higher this year than last year. That’s absolutely massive.”
Last year, he added, wasn’t a “fun time” in the cattle business as prices were much softer than now. So it’s relief to see bids finally rising.
“The culled cows aren’t spectacular but we’ll take the money on the calves over the cows any day.”
The rise in price comes just a few weeks after a major Cattle on Feed report came out from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was deemed extremely bearish for the market.
Munroe said he isn’t exactly sure what’s driving the industry right now. Fat cattle went on an incredible bull run in the spring before flattening out in the summer, which means there must be optimism in the market somewhere, he said.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “It should help the bred cow market this fall which is a positive.”
In the coming weeks, Munroe said, volumes could keep rising too. While there are adequate feed supplies in Manitoba, there isn’t “a tonne of extra,” so calves will likely continue to hit the market.
“I think the numbers will be up this year compared to last year — a little bit higher,” he said.
Recent weakness in the Canadian dollar has been another supportive element for the Manitoba cattle market. Weaker prices for corn and other grains have also given ranchers some room if they need to buy extra feed supplies.
“Corn and the grains aren’t really expensive so guys will have options,” he said.
Corn silage looks good, Munroe said, and hay has been reasonably priced up to now, “but I wouldn’t want to try and buy it next spring.”
Earlier this summer, some analysts were predicting the fall market of 2017 would be the same or lower as last year. Munroe said that fortunately hasn’t been the case.
“It’s certainly not turning out that way just yet.”