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Holiday slow season nears for Manitoba cattle sales

Variable quality leads to variable prices at auctions

As the fall run wraps up at Manitoba auction marts and volumes start to drop, any cattle that aren’t in top form are selling for discounts.

“Guys are getting a little fussier on the quality and the discounts for non-performing-type cattle are getting a little steeper,” said Allan Munroe of Killarney Auction Mart. Feedlots are getting full and buyers no longer want to take the risk on cattle that may not ship well.

For the week ending Dec. 7, 10,351 head ran through the province’s eight major auction marts, down from 11,227 the previous week. Auction volumes have been decreasing over the past few weeks as the fall run wraps up.

At Killarney, Munroe saw a record fall run with large volumes. Due to the drought in the summer, some producers were forced to cull their herds for feed supply management. In September, according to Munroe, the market sold 2-1/2 times the amount of cattle it did the previous year.

“Our numbers were incredible. With the drought we saw in July (and) August, September started out extremely busy,” he said.

Now as the holiday season nears, sale sizes are smaller as many auction marts prepare for the holiday break. At Killarney there are only two sales left before Christmas, but Munroe is cautioning producers to hold off on selling the week before Christmas if possible.

“It’s traditionally not a super-strong feeder sale, so we try and get them in on the 10th instead of the 17th… and then we try and encourage people to hold off until after the new year for anything after that, other than if they need a little bit of Christmas money,” he said.

Prices were steady at Manitoba auction marts for the week ended Dec. 7. Steers (600-700 lbs.) ranged from $144 to $210 per hundredweight (cwt). Heifers the same weight ranged from $100 to $197.25/cwt.

“We’re seeing a bit more variation in quality this time of year. We have calves that are right off the cow, we get ones that arecrept-fed, we’ve got ones that are backgrounded,” Munroe said. This leads to more variation among prices at the province’s auction marts.

About the author

CNSC

Ashley Robinson writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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