The first real snow of the season wasn’t enough to put a damper on the Manitoba cattle markets during the week ended November 10, with good volumes and solid prices reported across the province.
“It’s certainly nice to have not only a stronger market, but a steady market,” said Allan Munroe, of the Killarney Auction Mart. “We haven’t seen the volatility at all this year,” he added, noting that the predictability in marketing cattle was welcomed by all sides.
“There is plenty of supply and the market is still holding steady,” said Munroe linking the strength to good demand from both eastern and western buyers.
He said Ontario buyers were looking for the better-quality heavier animals 550 pounds and up, while the middleweights were off to Alberta and the lightweight cattle stayed local.
However, U.S. interest was not that pronounced, with very few cattle heading south.
Butcher cows were also seeing solid demand, with prices still holding steady after perking up in early October. Munroe said such strength in the cow market at this time of year was unusual, but welcome.
Feed supplies are looking good in most parts of Manitoba heading into the winter, with hay and silage described as “adequate” by Munroe. He said the poorer conditions in neighbouring Saskatchewan had led to expectations for an increase in feed moving west, but that isn’t happening yet.
The onslaught of colder and snowier conditions shouldn’t put a damper on the active cattle trade, and Munroe expected to be running at full capacity into December. He said the fall run would usually quiet down a bit earlier, but more animals were coming to market this year.
Part of the increased movement may be tied to memories of last winter, which was tough for feeding cattle, according to Munroe. He said a few producers, who would normally sell in the spring, were bringing some animals in earlier this fall.
Cattle futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell off of their nearby highs over the course of the week, which could signal an end to the firm tone in the Canadian market as well. Live cattle futures lost about US$7 per hundredweight over the course of the week, while feeder cattle were down by about US$5 per hundredweight. Declining margins for packers and the seasonal slowdown ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday were cited for the weakness in the U.S. markets.