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Prices strong as Manitoba producers clear out pens

Cattle prices keep on climbing despite expectations

Bids on Manitoba cattle remained strong during the week ended April 7, as farmers cleaned out their pens and took leftover cattle and other animals that had been backgrounding to market.

Roughly 11,500 head were shown at the province’s eight major stockyards.

“We’re seeing cattle that were small in the fall; now it’s time for them to go,” said Allan Munroe of Killarney Auction Mart. “It’s the time of year those odds and ends sell better than any other time.”

Bids for feeder cattle remained particularly strong, with lighter animals continuing to enjoy a lot of interest.

“The lightweights have certainly gone higher percentage-wise than the big cattle,” said Munroe.

However, slaughter animals drew strong bids as well.

Butcher cows were $2-$3 higher per hundredweight, with top-end cows ranging as high as $107.

“Hamburger season must be coming up because cows have come up dramatically and bulls have really taken on a new life,” he said.

At the Killarney stockyards, Munroe said, bulls went as high as $137/cwt during last week’s auction.

“It’s certainly nice to see when guys are in bull season and start getting more value out of them than they were expecting,” he noted.

However, Munroe said, it’s tough to say for sure what is driving the market these days. He pointed out the move higher comes at a time when many analysts expected it to head the opposite way.

One thing that might be helping out, he said, is the scandal that’s gripped the Brazilian beef market. In late March, a criminal probe was launched into allegations some food safety inspectors in the country were given bribes to allow the sale of poor-quality meat. At least two dozen countries temporarily halted imports of beef from Brazil as a result.

Canada doesn’t service the same markets as Brazil, Munroe said, but it could still open new markets for Canadian beef.

Still, he said, the factors behind the rise are murky. “I don’t know for sure if it’s anything to do with Brazil; the climb was happening before the Brazil issue came to light.”

As for weather, heavy snow over the winter and spring rain have soaked much of southwestern Manitoba, with flood warnings given to some regions. Munroe said the area around Killarney is also damp but he thinks it’ll be OK.

“Right around here, if we don’t have any significant rainfall, we’re going to be in pretty good shape,” he said. “If you get farther west, you’re hearing different stories about multiple roads washed out.”

Some of the pens in the region are still a bit muddy as well, he said.

About the author

Columnist

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

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