Cattle auction yards across Manitoba were busy during the week ended Nov. 1, with the fall run in full swing and prices looking relatively strong.
There were so many animals to move during the week that the Killarney Auction Mart held a rare second weekly sale just to keep on top of things.
“There are tremendous volumes moving through the system right now,” said Allan Munroe at the Killarney market. He added, “The market is staying incredibly strong, given the volumes we’re seeing.”
The demand for all of the animals is primarily coming from the East, with Ontario buyers looking to source as many cattle as they can “if they can find the trucks,” he said, noting a major bottleneck in the logistics.
“It’s always a challenge (at this time of year), but I think this year is a little tougher.”
The lateness of this year’s harvest likely has something to do with both the large numbers of cattle and the logistical issues getting them out of the province. The fall run is probably three weeks behind, with everyone getting off the combine and looking to sell ahead of the winter at the same time.
Cattle numbers are up on the year, but prices are also strong as well. Munroe said six-weight steers were averaging $158 per hundredweight, which compares with the best prices a year ago of about $147. The situation is similar with heifers, as the spread between steers and heifers is much tighter this year compared to last year.
“Hopefully some guys background and we’ll still have something to sell in the spring,” he said.
Some producers lost money backgrounding over the past winter, he said, and were looking to move their animals instead this year. However, at the same time, feed supplies are much more plentiful, which should aid profitability for those who do background this year.
On the butcher side, the move by Tyson Foods in the U.S. to no longer take Canadian slaughter animals was putting some pressure on markets, although the company is still buying feeder animals from Canada.
The fact that not many cattle were finished in Manitoba to begin with was also distancing the province from the impact of the Tyson decision to some extent, Munroe said.