Holiday break more than long enough for producers

Activity at the cattle auction yards across Manitoba started to get back into full swing again during the week ended Jan. 18, as all of the province’s auction yards held sales for the first time in 2013.

Killarney Auction Mart, Ashern Auction Mart and Gladstone Auction Mart held their first sales of 2013 during the week ended Jan. 18, and all reported a good amount of cattle were up for sale.

Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart, Heartland Livestock Services at Brandon and Virden, Winnipeg Livestock Sales and Ste. Rose Auction Mart held their second sales of 2013 during the Jan. 14-18 time frame, and all reported good volume as well.

Allan Munroe at Killarney said the market had quite a few slaughter cows go through the ring during its sale on Jan. 14.

“We had a lot of cows on Monday to what we normally would,” he said. “I think some guys did a hay inventory and a look at their cows and some finally got their price checking done at that, so there was quite a few out there. And, our last sale was Dec. 17, so by Jan. 14 there were some cows that guys wanted to get sold.”

There’s also a bit of a backlog, because the cow kill in Canada has been slow due to delays at XL Foods at Brooks, Alta. the Brooks plant’s slaughter pace has been slow as it recovers from its closure in the fall due to an E. coli contamination. The slaughter there has also been delayed due to its takeover by JBS USA.

“The plant at Brooks didn’t kill Monday because they were doing inventory for the takeover, that was the day JBS USA took ownership was my understanding,” Munroe said.

Prices for slaughter cattle across the province were steady compared to previous sales at most of the auction yards, as strong demand supported prices.

On the feeder cattle market, prices remained strong early in the week, but started to slide by the end of the reporting period, Munroe said.

“Feeder prices started to slide a bit on Wednesday afternoon,” he said. “I think it was completely related to the U.S. futures board.”

U.S. cattle futures dropped late in the week due to a rally in U.S. corn futures sparked by tight supply concerns and increased domestic usage.

Demand for feeder cattle remained strong, which helped prices stay steady early in the week. Munroe said most of the demand was coming from the west, though there were some U.S. buyers in the mix as well.

“I think there was a little bit of southern demand there, but they were just getting rolling. We’ll get a lot better feel of that at our next sale” on Jan. 21, he said.

A good amount of feeder cattle sold at auction yards across the province during the week as well, and those numbers should continue to climb throughout the next few weeks.

Munroe said the sale at Killarney on Jan. 21 should see more cattle than on Jan. 14, but it will be smaller than originally anticipated due to a weather-related cancellation.

“Farmers are looking at the highs of -25 C and high winds and they really don’t want to work in that if they don’t have to,” he said. “We’ll still have a good-size sale, just not as good as it would have been otherwise.”

Munroe noted the cattle that aren’t marketed during the week of Jan. 21-25 due to cold temperatures will come up for sale in coming weeks, making for good numbers in upcoming sales.

“I think we’re going to be very busy for the next couple of months,” he said.

Most of the cattle to be marketed in the coming months in Manitoba will most likely be backgrounded feeder cattle, he said.

About the author

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Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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