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Pandemic pricing hits Manitoba cattle values

Several auction markets’ sales will be put off due to the Easter long weekend

Prices for feeder cattle in Manitoba have taken a good hit, as have so many other commodities, during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Harold Unrau of Grunthal Livestock Auction Mart.

“Prices are sliding. They’ve gone down quite a bit,” he said, but expressed some optimism. “The futures markets were up again (April 8), so if they start rallying for a week straight, we’ll see our feeder prices start rebounding.”

Prices often decline in April, he noted, “but not as drastically as they have” because of the pandemic.

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At Grunthal’s April 7 auction, lighter feeder cattle appeared to be hardest hit by the declines. Steers in the 300- to 399-lb. category were $225-$280 per hundredweight (cwt) a month ago, and went for $210-$256/cwt at the March 31 sale. On April 7, those cattle fetched $200-$225/cwt.

Feeder heifers at 400-499 lbs. sold for $190-$240/cwt on March 3, and were $180-$217.50/cwt on March 31. At this week’s auction, they dropped to $165-$182.50.

The current crisis has forced some changes on the province’s cattle auctions. Unrau said the Grunthal auction has only 10 people on staff for auctions and limits who is allowed inside. In the emergency regulations from the provincial government, only buyers are permitted inside the auctions. Others, such as ranchers, truckers and spectators, cannot enter the facility.

“It’s brought some challenges for us, but we’re still open and still doing business,” he said.

With Good Friday on April 10 and Easter Sunday on April 12, a number of auctions postponed their sales for the coming week. The next sale at the Ashern Auction Mart is April 15 and Ste. Rose next sale goes ahead on April 16. Pipestone and Winnipeg have their next sales on April 17, and Killarney’s is on April 20.

About the author

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Glen Hallick - MarketsFarm

Glen Hallick writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. He previously reported for Postmedia newspapers in southern Manitoba and the province’s Interlake region.

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