Activity was closer to being back in full swing following summer holidays at many auction yards across Manitoba during the week ended Sept. 6.
Almost all of the auction yards held sales, with the exception of Killarney, whose first sale of the season was scheduled for Monday (Sept. 9).
Volumes remained mostly steady to lower compared to the week prior, as many farmers were busy focusing on harvest activities. For example, Heartland Livestock Services in Virden had almost 500 fewer cattle than it did the week prior. Some auction yards reported having similar numbers, to about 200 fewer, compared to the week prior.
Most of the feeder cattle that came on to the market during the week were yearlings, and the fall calf run is expected to start a little bit later on, said Keith Cleaver, manager of Heartland Livestock Services at Brandon.
“It’s the normal time for the yearlings to go right now,” he said. “Calves are going to be later because harvest is in full swing.”
The fall calf run won’t likely start until producers have their crops fully harvested, because that’s the No. 1 priority for many of them, said Cleaver.
Harvest progress varies across the province, with some regions more advanced than others. Harvest isn’t as late as previously expected, due to warmer weather advancing crop maturity in the latter half of August, said Cleaver.
Progress varied from region to region during the week, with some areas in the very early stages and others having certain crops almost half in the bin, a report from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives said on Sept. 3.
The start of the calf run will vary by region, depending on when the harvest starts and finishes, which means weather conditions will also help to determine when many farmers start marketing their calves.
A small number of calves were still marketed through Manitoba’s auction yards during the week, and were sold at very good prices, said Cleaver.
Yearlings also brought in strong prices, as the industry is optimistic that there will be a lot of feed grain, at lower prices, this fall.
“Cost to gain is going to be a little bit less for sure,” said Cleaver.
Good demand also helped to support prices, with buyers from western and eastern parts of Canada actively bidding for cattle.
There was also improved demand from the United States, which was supportive for both feeder and slaughter cattle. The Canadian dollar dipped below the US95-cent mark earlier, which made it easier for U.S. customers to buy Canadian cattle.
Though the summer season is starting to wind down, and grilling season will be over in a few weeks, there’s still good demand for slaughter cows, which was reflected in prices at Manitoba’s auction yards during the week.
There were still solid volumes of cull cows coming on to the market, as there has been throughout the entire summer, said Cleaver.
He suspected farmers are choosing to continue sending slaughter cows to be marketed in order to take advantage of the strong prices while they can.
Some of the province’s larger auction yards reported selling more than 100 slaughter cattle during the week, only slightly less compared to the week before.