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Manitoba cattle sales picking up steam

livestock Producers worrying about winter feed supplies are starting to ship animals now

Activity at Manitoba’s cattle auction yards is starting to pick up earlier than normal, as concerns over tight feed supplies have ranchers looking to move more animals.

The Gladstone Auction Mart held its first sale back after the summer break on Aug. 20, which was about a month earlier than normal, according to auctioneer Tyler Slawinski. While cull cows accounted for more than half of the 180 cattle through the rings in the first sale, he expected community pastures will be gradually shutting down and “the fall run will start a month earlier than usual.”

“I expect to see an abundance of cattle hit the market in the near future,” said Slawinski, adding that people will be weaning calves early and shipping cull cows “that aren’t paying their way.”

Dry pastures and concerns over tightening feed supplies were at the forefront of the decision-making process amongst cow-calf producers, with many facing the second poor pasture year in a row.

“There’s virtually no pasture left, and feed is scarce,” said Slawinski. “People will have to cut back their herd to what they can feed all winter,” he added.

“Hopefully there’s enough demand to keep things rolling,” said Slawinski. However, if the market is flooded with too many cull cows, prices will likely come under pressure.

“People are not only worried about feed supply, but water sources as well,” said Slawinski. Uncertainty over whether or not there will be an assistance program for cattle producers is also keeping some caution in the market.

Given the pasture and feed situation, he expected to see more herd reductions and dispersals.

On the feeder side, “things were trading fairly similar to when we shut down for the summer months,” said Slawinski.

Lighter-weight steers were topping out well above C$200 per hundredweight across the province, with animals up to the 700- to 800-pound class also nearing C$200 at the high end. D1 and D2 cull cows ranged anywhere from about C$65 to C$87 at the provincial auction yards.

Live cattle futures in the United States edged up off of the multi-year lows hit earlier in the month during the week, as the fire at a Tyson slaughterhouse in Kansas has been priced into the market. Solid beef demand from the wholesale sector ahead of the Labour Day long weekend was also cited as a supportive influence.

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