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Weaker loonie draws U.S. cattle buyers to Manitoba

Prices have local buyers seeking out bred cattle

Cattle moving through Manitoba’s auction yards saw some strength during the week ended March 3, as a combination of rising U.S. futures and a weaker Canadian dollar gave local prices a boost.

Heartland Livestock Services at Virden was the busiest auction yard in the province during the week, holding three sales: a bred cow sale, a butcher sale and a feeder sale.

“We definitely saw a stronger butcher market and a stronger feeder market this week,” said Robin Hill of Heartland Virden. “There was more U.S. demand this week with the (Canadian) dollar dropping.”

The currency was down by more than 1-1/2 cents relative to its U.S. counterpart on the week. The softening currency means U.S. customers with U.S. dollars have more buying power in the Canadian market. Those U.S. buyers had been largely non-existent in Manitoba until the past week.

“There was a very aggressive feeder trade this week,” said Hill, adding that “it seemed like every order buyer wanted to buy more cattle.” In addition to the U.S. buying interest, Hill said, western and eastern feedlots were also in the market.

Local interest was also noted, especially for bred cattle, as ample feed supplies and attractive prices have some producers looking to increase, or at least maintain, their herd size, Hill said.

While volumes were fairly substantial, activity usually starts to slow down in the spring as producers turn their attention to field work. Hill said there were still plenty of cattle left to move through the rings, but added that activity should be a little quieter by the end of March.

On the butcher side, the weaker Canadian dollar helped as well. “It makes everything better for the producer,” said Hill.

Looking ahead, price movement in Manitoba’s cattle sector will hinge on factors out of the control of the domestic market.

“If we ever see the Chicago board drop, any interest will be lost pretty quickly,” said Hill. At the same time, he added that “if the Canadian dollar climbs higher, that would also weigh on the market.”

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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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