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Summer slowdown begins for Manitoba auction marts

Signals point to a market getting set to weaken

The dog days of summer have arrived at auction marts in Manitoba, as just 827 cattle were sold during the week ended June 23, well down from the previous week when 1,890 animals were sold.

Prices stayed relatively firm, however, with some mild strengthening on a few of the light heifer classes.

For instance, heifers (400-500 lbs.) saw floor bids of $180 per hundredweight, which exceeded the previous week where some animals were going for as low as $193.

“Demand has stayed strong for feeder cattle,” said Brian Perrilat, senior analyst with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s CanFax arm. “Prices held in reasonably well.”

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Just 260 animals showed up on the slaughter market, with prices hanging relatively steady.

Younger cows that were suitable to be placed on pasture and bred were selling $10-$15 higher than butchers. A few cow-calf pairs traded up to $2,550, according to an outlet.

Drought-like weather is also raising concerns among some ranchers in the northern U.S. Plains.

“In the northern U.S. there was some cattle movement due to drought,” said Perrilat. “Those areas still appear to be quite dry.”

The feed situation on the Prairies could be slightly better in some areas, he added. Dry weather has made pastures spotty in a few parts, but in general, conditions look pretty good.

Another factor that could boost the market is last week’s decision by the U.S. to suspend fresh beef imports from Brazil, following continued concerns over public health, sanitary conditions and animal health issues.

However, there could be some signs the market is preparing to weaken. The size of the U.S. beef herd is above 11 million animals for the first time since January 2013.

On top of that, the number of cattle in commercial feedlots increased by 12 per cent, to 2.1 million head. There are expectations that the overall supply will increase even further in August.

“The packers might have one of their biggest kills of the year,” said Perrilat.

Many of the big orders have already come in, he added, as companies prepare for Fourth of July festivities.

“Most of the holiday buying is probably done,” he added.

Manitoba ranchers are being reminded to get premises ID numbers sooner rather than later. In 2018, the measure becomes mandatory as part of the new National Traceability Program.

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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