With just three auctions open, fewer than 640 head of cattle were sold at Brandon, Virden and Grunthal for the week ended Jan. 7.
“There wasn’t enough to really quote accurate market (prices),” said Keith Cleaver, manager of Heartland Livestock Services’ Brandon auction.
“The first week is pretty slow always,” he added, noting cattle numbers next week should provide “a truer picture.”
Of the nearly 290 cattle sold at Heartland’s Virden auction, manager Robin Hill estimated 180 to 190 were slaughter cows. The demand for those saw prices edge up $1-$2 per hundredweight, he added.
However, with high feed grain prices and a stronger Canadian dollar, Hill said it’s very unlikely feeder cattle prices will see any significant increases for the rest of January.
Across the province, feed barley prices this week were $4.50-$4.71 per bushel, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire. Feed wheat prices in Manitoba ranged from $6.35-$6.80/bu.
The loonie remained above 78 U.S. cents for the week, making exports less attractive to buyers.
Come February and March, when the amount of cattle headed to auction should decline, Hill said prices could rise. Until then, prices could drop $2-$3/cwt.
Prices offered at Heartland’s Manitoba auctions included feeder steers in the 300- to 400-pound range going for $266-$288/cwt at Brandon and $240-$270 at Virden. Feeder heifers in the same weight class sold for $205-$221 at Brandon and $205-$220 at Virden.
Among heavier cattle, feeder steers (700-800 lbs.) brought in $174-$185/cwt at Brandon, while those at Virden fetched $178-$193.
On Heartland’s slaughter market, D1-D2 cows ranged from $63 to $74/cwt and D3-D5 cows were $51-$68. Mature bulls went for $89-$100/cwt. Feeder cows sold for $70-$85 and heiferettes fetched $88-$130.
With only 97 feeder steers and heifers, the Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart didn’t offer any prices. Its slaughter prices were roughly the same as at Brandon and Virden.
Winnipeg Livestock Sales had its first auction of 2021 on Jan. 8, with prices unavailable at press time.
In the second week of January, the roster of active Manitoba auctions is to be joined by those at Ashern (Jan. 13), Gladstone (Jan. 12), Killarney (Jan. 11), Pipestone (Jan. 15) and Ste. Rose du Lac (Jan. 14).