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Feed prices, strong loonie drag down cattle values

China’s boycott on beef poses relatively little threat

Canadian meat packers are assessing what future demand will look like for Canadian beef, though China’s recent shunning of Canadian meat products will leave cattle markets largely unscathed.

This is mainly due to the fact that only about five per cent of beef exports year to date have been shipped to China, said Brian Perillat of Canfax in Calgary.

Although China’s recent announcement put a bit of pressure on the Canadian market relative to the U.S. market, high feed grain prices and a strong Canadian dollar have further weighed on calf and feeder cattle prices.

“It’s not a super-strong market right now,” Perillat remarked.

“Fed cattle prices have been off a little bit because feedlots have basically been losing money over the last few months. That is also adding pressure to calf and feeder markets.”

Though calf and feeder cattle prices are hovering around annual lows, five-hundredweight cattle prices remain seasonally strong, coming down from highs observed earlier in the springtime.

Since drought conditions across the Prairies have largely abated, cull cattle prices have stabilized since dropping about a month ago.

“Some areas are still in a moisture deficit, but (the rain) has bought a little time,” said Perillat, as cattle volumes naturally slow down during the summer months.

Most cattle markets are closed for the summer, though Heartland Auction Services at Virden and Winnipeg Livestock Auction Mart held auctions.

Prices held fairly steady relative to the previous week. In Virden, prices for six- to seven-hundredweight steers ranged from $188 to $208, $4 higher than last week.

About the author

Glacier MarketsFarm

Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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