Harold Unrau, manager of Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart, has some advice for cattle producers who might be looking at thinning their herds.
Look for other options first — sell calves early, maybe even potential replacement animals, depending on the situation — before selling cows.
“It’s a bad time to reduce your herd, because butcher cows are cheap, because no one is going to be buying any amount of bred cows or heifers,” he said. “So you’ll be selling those cheap.
“My recommendation to producers is to sell your calves, keep your cows.”
The Sept. 18 sale at Grunthal saw 1,061 feeders and 125 slaughter animals sold, compared to 502 feeders and 140 slaughter cattle the previous week.
The feeder market will likely remain strong through to Christmas, Unrau said, as producers facing feed and pasture shortages look to unload animals.
Feeder steers (500-600 lbs.) sold for $200-$241 per hundredweight. Heifers at the same weight sold for $180-$220/cwt.
The previous week, at Grunthal’s Sept. 11 sale, 500- to 600-lb. steers were $220-$231/cwt; heifers were $175-$207/cwt.
Cows on Sept. 18 sold for $65-$77.50/cwt and skinny cows for $50-$60/cwt. Bulls sold for $90-$105/cwt.
Throughout the province last week, 8,472 animals were sold in the eight major auctions, compared to about 8,600 for the previous week.
At Ashern Auction Mart, 700 animals sold with a large number listed as lighter animals, a result of producer needs to market. In total, 287 animals weighing less than 600 lb. sold Sept. 19. Steers in the 500- to 600-lbs. range sold for $190-$232.50/cwt. Heifers at the same weight sold for $170-$211/cwt.
D1, D2 cows brought $74-$82/cwt; D3-D5 cows sold for $70-$77/cwt.
Back at Grunthal, Unrau said animals are being brought in about a month earlier than usual, with weights generally 50-75 lbs. below the usual.
“I think the feeder market will stay steady, but the butcher cows will continue to drop a little bit,” he said.
Both Grunthal and Ashern reported seeing interest from U.S. buyers.