Feeder cattle prices at auction yards across the province of Manitoba brought in steady to strong prices during the week ended June 21.
Smaller numbers helped to keep prices propped up, while a pickup in demand from local buyers was responsible for some prices moving higher.
Scott Anderson, with Winnipeg Livestock Sales, said the demand seemed to be there, though the front row, where the buyers sit, was thinner than usual.
Fewer people were out purchasing cattle because there aren’t as many cattle up for sale, making it difficult to make up big loads.
“It’s very tough to make loads work now, kind of like pulling teeth a little bit,” said Anderson.
A good number of local buyers were out during the week, though not many grass cattle were bought locally because most producers are done buying and have them all out on pasture already.
There were also some buyers from the East and elsewhere in the West, Anderson said, noting “a lot of cattle went west, some went east; it seemed like it was kind of an even split.”
There were some earlier concerns eastern demand would slow down because of expensive transportation costs, but Anderson said they’re still buying cattle from Manitoba.
“I think some of the trucking rates are lower now because guys will take whatever they can get; it’s not like they’re getting lots of phone calls for cattle,” he said. “I think some of the (eastbound) trucks will just take whatever they can get, even if it means going home with half a load.”
The number of feeder cattle that came onto the market was steady compared to the week prior, with most of Manitoba’s auction yards showing slightly lower numbers — but the amount seen at the sale in Winnipeg exceeded expectations, Anderson said.
“We ended up with just over 500 cattle, which was about double what we thought we would get,” he said.
Slaughter cattle numbers were strong during the week, Anderson said, adding that Winnipeg saw about 250 butcher cows. Other auction yards also reported good slaughter numbers.
Of the cattle that came onto the market, most sold for steady to stronger prices compared to the week prior amid good demand.
Anderson noted the slaughter market was up about $1-$2 per hundredweight compared to recent prices.
Prices on both sides of the market, feeder and slaughter, are expected to stay steady throughout the summer as little movement is expected with only a handful of auction marts holding sales. (See the schedule table for full details.) But there’s some optimism that prices will start to see some recovery heading into the fall.
“It seems like maybe the yearlings are going to be all right — nothing to say it’s going to be a disaster,” Anderson said. “If feed prices come down a little bit and if there’s not quite as many cattle around, that should help keep the price up.”