Cattle volumes at auctions across Manitoba are starting to dwindle, which is typical for this time of year.
“Numbers are down everywhere,” said Rick Wright of Heartland Order Buying Co., remarking that some auctions had already switched to their summer schedule of holding auctions every two weeks.
Prices for feeder cattle below 750 pounds have held steady, but prices for heavier cattle have suffered due to lack of demand.
“It’s a tough market for those cattle,” Wright commented. “Fortunately, lighter-weight cattle sold quite well.”
Some demand is coming from the United States and Alberta, and Wright also said some cattle are heading east, “if they’re fancy enough.”
“But the market for heavier-weight cattle is volatile, and will continue to be volatile.”
Brian Perillat, an analyst with Canfax in Calgary, Alta., agreed that prices vary depending on the type of cattle.
“The fed cattle market is under tremendous pressure,” he said, citing plant closures and slowdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cargill’s High River, Alta. plant has been among those affected, recently reopening after a two-week shutdown following a large cluster of infections among its workforce.
“Cattle prices have dropped by C$30 to C$40 per hundredweight compared to where they were a couple of months ago,” Perillat said.
However, Perillat did say that lighter-weight cattle bound for a summer in the pastures showed some strength.
Across the province, cattle between 600 and 700 lbs. were between $180 and $230 per hundredweight. That’s slightly higher than the previous week, when the same weight class was between $170 and $215 per hundredweight.