The total volume of cattle that went through the rings at auction yards across Manitoba saw a drop-off during the week ended Feb. 22. Many farmers took Louis Riel Day off on Monday, so they didn’t have their cattle ready to go in time for some of the week’s sales.
Not everyone took the day off, as Killarney Auction Mart still held a sale on Feb. 18 that saw about 859 cattle marketed, up from 688 the week before.
Some areas, though, saw steep drop-offs in volume, such as Heartland Livestock Services at Virden, which reported selling just 761 cattle during the week, down from 3,459 the week prior.
A storm that brought a lot of snow and high winds to many regions across the province was also responsible for some of the drop-off in volume. Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart didn’t provide a market report during the week, but said it only had just over 100 cattle due to the storm.
Ste. Rose Auction Mart, Heartland Livestock Services at Brandon, Ashern Auction Mart, Winnipeg Livestock Sales and Gladstone Auction Mart all reported lower volumes than a week ago as well.
But, that trend shouldn’t last long, and volumes should increase again next week, said Robin Hill, manager of Heartland at Virden.
“We’ll have at least 2,500 head kicking around (Virden) next week,” he said.
The strong volumes should start to drop off in mid-March, though, because a lot of farmers marketed their cattle earlier this year due to shortages of hay and high feed prices.
The cattle that did come to market during the week found a bit of relief from last week’s significant declines, and were steady to slightly higher. Hill noted prices were one to two cents per pound higher on some classes.
“The feeder trade looked stabilized here this week,” he said. “Last week prices were down, and it didn’t gain it all back, but it gained some of it back.”
Prices saw some significant declines last week, as they followed along with the U.S. futures market, which dropped sharply.
There was still a strong buying presence from Western Canada during the week, and some cattle went out east as well, Hill said.
There was some local interest on the grass cattle as well, with cattle weighing 650 pounds and under most popular for the grass market.
There was some U.S. interest noted as well, and buyers from the south should become bigger players as the Canadian dollar continues to weaken.
“I would say that the U.S. will be bigger players at a 98-cent dollar, so we’ll definitely see a little more interest from the U.S. buyers and U.S. feedlots at that level,” Hill said.
On Feb. 22, the Canadian dollar fell below the US98-cent level, and currency analysts noted they expect it to fall as low as US97 cents and beyond in the near term.
The slaughter cattle market was mostly steady during the week, with some auction yards reporting slight losses in some classes.
Hill noted fairly large numbers of slaughter cattle still coming on to the market and preventing prices from moving higher.