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Manitoba cattle markets stay steady

Prices are showing surprising resilience against seasonal slumps

The cattle market in Manitoba continues to show surprising strength as higher feed costs and a seasonal slowdown in sales haven’t caused a serious setback in prices.

Volumes were light but ranchers still managed to find enough animals to take to market.

Feeder cattle in Manitoba weighing 700 pounds and under averaged around $200 per hundredweight during the week ended July 27; on par with the previous week.

According to Brian Perillat, an analyst with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, domestic demand and steady exports to the United States, have helped keep western beef prices elevated.

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“The market jumped $10 per hundredweight,” he said, referring to Western Canada as a whole. “That was higher than what we were expecting.”

Fat cattle were closing in on $2 a pound, which was another highlight, he said.

One of the first indications of how strong the market was came in June when boxed beef prices held steady despite the drop in cattle prices.

Perillat said values have held steady since then.

“We chewed through those cattle with more ease than what we expected,” he said, adding there didn’t seem to be a lot of concern from buyers about the size.

“Carcass weights were not an issue, which helps push beef through the supply chain,” he said.

Packers continue to scour the market for bargains, which also helped keep prices from trending lower. Perillat noted that some outlets in Canada were recently processing animals six days a week. One of the reasons for that was all the forward sales the packers had accumulated in recent months.

“We’ve seen some of the biggest kills since 2010,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the stream of cattle being processed in the U.S. was slowed last week as packers and feed yards haggled over prices. Most analysts expect prices to rise by the start of August.

Another challenge facing the market is feed prices, particularly barley. As well, the amount of hay available isn’t overly abundant.

“Not a lot of guys have good hay crops,” said Perillat.

About the author

Columnist

Dave Sims

Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Dave has a deep background in the radio industry and is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two beautiful children. His hobbies include reading, podcasting and following the Atlanta Braves.

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