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‘Gap’ season more active than normal for cattle sales

Poor pasture conditions cause an early-fall calf run prediction

It’s sometimes known as the gap season in cattle markets — that slow time of year between the early spring and fall-winter sales runs.

But there are decent profits producers can pick up now, said Rick Wright of Heartland Order Buying.

“Cattle are actually bringing a profit and the buyers are a bit reluctant to pay that kind of money.”

He said a fair number of yearlings are currently available, more than usual for the time of year, and they are filling in the spaces between the fed cattle market of December to February and the early-spring market.

He said some yearlings are coming off grass with most deals being made through electronic sales. Yearlings at 900 pounds were selling for $1.88 to $1.93, which is considerably higher than the CBOT will support, he said.

“Export demand has been extremely good on both sides of the border. All indications are that it is going to carry through to the end of this particular calendar year and the first quarter looks very promising,” said Wright.

The excess supply of fed cattle that had been dragging down the market is disappearing quicker than most people expected and Wright expected the supply would be current by the end of August.

Volumes were very light at auctions held in Manitoba during the week ending Aug. 3, with most yards closed for the summer or operating on a reduced schedule.

Saskatoon Livestock Sales conducted sales on July 30 and July 31. About 400 animals were up for bidding over the two sales, which saw good supplies of fat cows, said manager-auctioneer Michael Fleury.

About 100 cows sold for between 92 and 96 cents, which is up from recent prices, he said.

Two to three weeks ago, prices were about five cents lower, said Alvin Busby, sales representative at the Saskatoon yard. Mid-July prices for D1, 2 cows were in a range of 73 to 78 cents at Winnipeg and 84 cents to $1.02 in southern Alberta.

“We’ve got lots of cows, bulls, a few yearlings. We actually had our first set of calves come through here (July 31),” said Fleury.

Busby said only about 10 calves were offered, not enough to set a price.

About 30 yearlings at 950 pounds fetched $1.93.

He said producers will likely soon start selling their yearlings early because of poor pastures, but they will likely hold on to calves for as long as they can.

For Fleury, a bigger problem looms on the horizon.

“I don’t know what is going to happen with this bred market. Everybody I talk to seems to be looking to sell some cows this fall.”

Feed availability has become a major concern around Saskatoon with some producers paying more than $100 per bale for hay.

“I think we’ll see an early calf run in our trading area because grass is burning up,” he said.

“So they’ll come to town as soon as the grass is done.”

Wright echoed those predictions. He said animals are coming off pasture 30 or 40 days sooner than usual, and that could pressure feedlots into buying ahead of time.

“The feedlots can’t wait until September because those cattle will be gone, the inventory will be gone and supply will be even shorter,” he said.

About the author

CNSC

Terry Fries writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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