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Greener pastures translate to slower cattle sales

CME October cattle futures have dropped since late August

Greener pastures translate to slower cattle sales

It was all quiet on the Manitoba cattle front for the week ended Sept. 9. Only four auction sites — Winnipeg, Grunthal and the Heartland sites at Brandon and Virden — hosted regular cattle sales, all with lower numbers through the rings than in the previous week.

Temperatures in southern and western Manitoba mostly stayed within the low 20s C, while healthy rains improved pasture conditions. Recent conditions prompted many cattle producers to stay home, according to Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart auctioneer and auction sales representative Brad Kehler.

“Most guys have got enough rain here to kind of extend the pasture season,” he said. “These guys are able to graze out their pastures a little longer. They’re busy making straw and collecting seed here for the fall time. I think we’re looking at OK shape right now.”

Only 1,528 head were sold at the four sales during the week in total, compared to the 5,402 at six auction sites during the previous week. The largest decrease was found at Brandon where only 136 cattle were sold on Sept. 7, a 92 per cent decrease from the 1,862 up for auction on Aug. 31.

Only 602 cattle were sold in Grunthal on Sept. 7, compared to 769 on Aug. 31. The range in feeder prices slightly decreased from $140-$282.50 per hundredweight on Aug. 31 to $132-$265/cwt a week later.

“In our sale, we had a big round of Holstein feeder cattle. I thought they sold really well,” Kehler said, adding that yearling heifers “brought good money too” and sold cattle were staying in Western Canada and going to Eastern Canada, as well.

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), October live cattle closed at US$123.750/cwt. on Sept. 9, having steadily decreased since hitting a 29-month high on Aug. 24 at US$132.85. October feeder cattle closed at US$159.25 on Sept. 9; on Aug. 24, the contract hit its highest point since March 2016, trading at US$172.55.

Meanwhile, new crop is starting to enter feed channels, lowering the price of feed grains, and the Canadian dollar decreased by nearly one U.S. cent over the week.

Kehler believes cattle sales are not expected to pick up any time soon.

“I would say it’ll probably be a little bit slower here over the next two weeks and then the fall run should start picking up,” he said.

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