Fewer cattle went through the rings at Manitoba livestock auction sites during the week ending March 12 compared to the previous week. At least 10,800 head were sold, including about 10,000 feeders this week, down from more than 12,000 the previous week.
At most sites this week, prices were steady to lower for lightweight feeder steers. The highest price for a feeder steer was $295 per hundredweight at Grunthal, while those weighing 500 lbs. or less topped out somewhere between $240 and $275/cwt at the rest of the sites.
“We’ve got some poor weather here over the last couple of days,” Tyler Slawinski of Gladstone Auction Mart said. “With the long-range forecast, (sellers) wanted to get some of the rest of their cattle moving out before this hit and not to mention, most spring calving operations are underway.”
At Gladstone, 872 cattle were sold at the live auction on March 9, as well as 614 calves at a live-streaming video feeder sale on the same day.
On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), April live cattle contracts were trading on March 11 at US$118.525/cwt, slightly down from Feb. 26 at US$121.75, the highest price since April 2020. Meanwhile, April feeder contracts traded at US$141.275/cwt, close to the average price since January.
Slawinski has noticed that while many cattle are remaining in Western Canada, there has been significant demand for higher-end cattle from Eastern Canada. He believes many buyers from the East are looking to Manitoba because it costs less to transport cattle from there than from Saskatchewan or Alberta.
“There is probably just as much interest in the East as there is in the West,” he said. “The fat market has been a little bit stagnant for the last little while… These guys are maybe seeing a shining light thinking things will turn around in the fat cattle industry. It’s been good, as far as sending cattle east. They’re feeling better about the industry down there.”
Slawinski speculated that prices may rise ahead of grass season if cattle numbers taper off, but he is not making any guarantees.
“The closer we get to grass season, supply and demand could kick into effect. I hope the market kind of perks up a wee bit more.”