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Cattle values generally firm as weather drags on volumes

A weaker loonie didn’t draw much cross-border traffic

Routine winter movement was the order of the day at Manitoba’s cattle auction marts during the week ended Feb. 9.

Only about 6,300 cattle were on offer across the province during the week, down by about 2,000 from the previous week as cold temperatures limited some movement. Values held firm for the most part, with lighter-weight steers generally fetching at least $200 per hundredweight to as high as $250 in some classes, and heifers in the $180-$220 area. Heavier animals also saw some strength, with Winnipeg Livestock Sales reporting increases of $3-$7/cwt on the week at Friday’s sale as buyers appeared less selective.

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The cull cow market was also reasonably steady across the province, with good-fleshed butcher cows hitting $80-$85/cwt for the most part.

The lighter volumes likely limited some movement to the east, given difficulties getting full loads together with most cattle moving west at this time of year.

“I’d call the market very steady,” said Dave Nickel of Gladstone Auction Mart, noting prices were up a bit on some classes and down a bit on others.

While values are down a bit from where they were back in the fall, the returns are still reasonable for producers moving cattle at this time.

Nickel noted the good prices ahead of Christmas meant more animals moved during the fall run than normal, which should keep numbers on the lighter side now heading into the spring and the calving season.

While cold weather was also a limiting factor on the market during the first full week of February, temperatures are forecast to turn more moderate.

“If the weather is nicer, I expect the runs to be a little larger,” said Nickel.

Manitoba Beef Producers held its annual meeting during the week, likely keeping some participants away from the Thursday and Friday sales.

The Canadian dollar dropped sharply over the course of the week, losing over a cent relative to its U.S. counterpart. A weakening currency is typically supportive for Canadian cattle prices, although cross-border business remains minimal for the time being.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin - MarketsFarm

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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