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Manitoba cattle market better than rest of Prairies

Geography is working in favour of local producers, with more nearby market options

While cattle prices are starting to soften across most of Western Canada, Manitoba is finding itself as the exception.

“In Manitoba things aren’t looking too bad. They’ve got some options there, their price has almost been a premium, or some of the strongest in Western Canada,” said Brian Perillat, manager and senior analyst at Canfax.

Auction marts across the Prairies are in the midst of the fall run and volumes of cattle are up, which has weighed on the market. There are even reports that feedlots in Lethbridge, Alta. are getting filled up and with feed prices high, interest in buying is waning from there.

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Canfax recently released its cattle-on-feed report which showed there are currently 18 per cent more cattle on feed than usual currently.

In Manitoba though, due to its central location, there are more options when it comes to buyers. There is interest from the east into Ontario, not just the west. There is also a little interest from the United States too.

Volumes are expected to pick up over the next few weeks though as the fall run continues. In Manitoba, there was about 17,200 head sold the week ended Oct. 26, which was down compared to the previous week where about 18,500 head sold.

“We’ll probably see some more volumes and we could see a little bit more pressure on these calves here over the next two to three weeks,” Perillat said.

Prices in Manitoba were slightly lower compared to the previous week. Steers weighing 700 to 800 pounds sold for $146 to $220 per hundredweight (cwt), while heifers the same weight sold for $125 to $187 cwt.

In the U.S. the futures markets have been quite strong while the cash markets haven’t been, which has held the futures back from rallying, according to Perillat. However, the long-term outlook for the market should be better.

“(The futures are) definitely pointing to… higher fed cattle prices for the first part of 2019 which is positive,” he said.

The Canadian dollar will have an effect though on how those futures prices filter into the Canadian cattle market. According to Perillat, it has been pretty volatile as of late and has been finding a lot of resistance at the 78 U.S. cents mark.

“The dollar’s pretty volatile so just keep an eye on it. If it stays under 77, 78 cents that should be supportive to our prices,” he said.

About the author

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Ashley Robinson - MarketsFarm

Ashley Robinson writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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