Manitoba’s auction yards were busy once again during the week ended Dec. 13, but numbers have slightly tapered off the past few weeks due to the extremely cold weather, and are expected to further decline during the final auctions before Christmas.
“It was very strong again this week,” said Keith Cleaver, manager of Heartland Livestock Services at Brandon. “The numbers are staying good, but we were a little lighter this week due to the cold on Monday. But besides that, numbers are decent.
“I think next week the numbers will be lighter for sure as we get closer to Christmas and the new year.”
However, once the holiday break is over, volumes are expected to pick up again for the early part of 2014.
“Towards the end of January and February there will be decent numbers,” Cleaver said. “But after that, it’ll probably taper off.”
Buyers this week were from the usual spots, with U.S. interest continuing to be strong due to a very weak Canadian dollar, he said.
“We had buyers from the East, West, South and locally too,” Cleaver said, adding that poor value in the loonie is making the butcher market more favourable for U.S. buyers. “It’s keeping the butcher cows, age-verified cows and feeder cows fairly strong (in price).”
At the start of the week, the Canadian dollar was valued at US93.84 cents, before closing the week slightly stronger at 94.38.
In terms of prices, he said feeder and butcher prices were fairly steady during the week and should remain that way going into the new year.
“Feeders were fully steady to maybe a little stronger on some classes, while the butchers were fully strong,” Cleaver said. “It looks promising going into the new year. I think prices should remain fairly strong with the low grains prices.”
Low grain prices seen in the second half of 2013 were due to extremely large harvests seen in the U.S. and Canada.
Barley prices dropped significantly throughout harvest, as Statistics Canada has pegged 2013-14 production at 10.237 million tonnes, which would be over two million higher than 2012-13 production.
Feed wheat prices have also declined, as StatsCan has all-wheat production at 37.53 million tonnes, which would be a Canadian record and over 10 million larger than the previous year’s crop.
Current prices are very good for producers, a far cry from prices seen earlier in 2013, Cleaver added.
“Towards the end of this year, all the prices got to be better (due) in part to fewer cattle and low grain prices,” he said. “However, earlier in the year, they were surely no good.”