With Manitoba’s harvest winding down, cattle volumes across auction yards were significantly higher during the week ended Oct. 18, Robin Hill of Heartland Livestock Service in Virden, Manitoba, said.
“We had lots of volume here this week as the fall run has begun,” he said. “It seems like everyone is a week or two later than usual with the crops going in late and the late harvest. The other thing is that we’ve had a lot of good fall pasture, where a year ago today, we were out of pastures, and the cattle came much quicker.”
According to Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives’ (MAFRI) Oct. 15 weekly crop report, most crops are almost fully harvested except for grain corn, sunflowers and flax.
The report added that pastures continue to be in fair shape, with some cattle also being moved to fields with crop residue.
Hill noted that this five-week stretch from mid-October to late November is always extra busy, leading to some transportation concerns as well.
“Transportation issues have become a little more of a problem this year, but we’re getting through it so far,” he said. “The issues are the trucks going a little farther this year. More yearlings went south this fall than last, so when trucks go south, they’re gone a day longer than usual.
“If cattle go to Alberta feedlots, trucks are a lot closer than when they go down to Nebraska or wherever.”
The partial shutdown of the U.S. government didn’t affect any of the early-week auctions, and now that the issue has been resolved, U.S. interest is expected to remain steady.
“We never saw any difference in the trades at all,” Hill said. “It’s business as usual.”
However, because of the length of transportation to the U.S., interest in calves was low compared to yearlings.
“Southern interest was very minimal in the calves,” Hill said. “It’s too much stress on the calves to send them from Manitoba or Saskatchewan down south. The yearlings are that much older, so they can take the stress of an extra day of trucking.”
Looking at the feeder and butcher markets, prices remained fairly steady compared to previous weeks, Hill said.
“The feeder trade was fully steady for sure — maybe a penny or two higher in some of the eastern-type calves,” he said. “Cows and bulls were steady to last week’s numbers.”
However, with the expected large volume coming to auction marts across Manitoba, it’s likely that prices may see a decline.
“The volume is going to be our biggest issue, as everyone is going to have big volume over the next five weeks,” he said. “Because of the volume issues, trucking issues could arise too. We’re hoping that prices stay where they are.”
As the long Manitoba winter slowly creeps up, Hill said that most growers are well stocked with feed for the entire winter.
MAFRI’s crop report noted that feed production was sufficient enough for winter, but there are some shortages in isolated areas in eastern Manitoba.
“It looks like there’s lots of feed,” Hill said. “We had a hard season to put good hay up this year. July was a tough month to be putting good-quality hay up. It’s not quite the quality (growers want), but there’s more of it.”