Although persistent dry conditions in the southwest corner of the province had cut back hay supplies last summer, that doesn’t seem to be the reason for an extraordinary flow of cows to the auction rings, says Heartland Virden manager Jim McArthur. He said the area’s cow herd reduction in the last year was larger than Statistics Canada’s measurement Manitoba reduction of six per cent. His mart’s cow handle increased 40 per cent measuring 2008 over 2007. He said it was the pull of better cow prices rather than the push of empty hay yards.
The cow flow to the marts in the southwest had a large boost from customers from outside the normal service area, said Keith Clever, manager of Heartland Brandon. They had consignors from a fair distance into Saskatchewan.
Western cow slaughter in the first quarter of this year is running 50,000 head under last year. Adding the non-fed exports onto the domestic slaughter shows 50,000 fewer culls so far this year, according to Canfax numbers. U. S cow kill has backed off a bit as well from the peak of 130,000 per week in January to 110,000 last week.
The hole in feeder supply that has been forecast to arrive for the last year because of the reduced cow herds may have come home to roost as the fats, cows and feeders find new demand. Feeders to fill American feed yards showed a pretty good pull on all sizes. In looking at the Nebraska feeder volumes, they were actually running a little higher than the same period last year. The south has been getting most of the credit for creating the price improvement here, and the actual export numbers could support that by lowering the supply as compared to last year. So far this year, the 131,660 feeders sent south are 32 per cent under ’08 at this time.
Virden’s feeder prices showed a steady pull across all levels of pricing rather than just new lofty highs.
At the end of their pre-sort season, Virden attracted 2,500 head to its April 8 sale. Replacement heifers in pens of five added 100 head.
The light steers had the $1.30 ceiling of late in place, installed on the 27 head of 489-lb. Angus-Xs ($635 per head). At that $1.30 line they separated half above and half below. Some white-faces in both red and black were sold at $1.25 for the 357-pounders ($446), the 395-lb. Angus-Tarentaise traded at $1.20 ($474) the 445-lb. Chars stayed at $1.13 ($503) and a 425-lb. smokey-Simm sporting a rat-tail remained at 95 cents ($404). Light heifers managed to put the $1.20 line behind them on 85 per cent, though it wasn’t the biggest draft. The 433-lb. Char-Simm-Red Angus had what it took to get $1.27 ($549). Th 491-lb. Red Angus-Xs sold for $1.17 ($575) and the 473-lb. Char-Tarentaise stopped at $1.12 ($530). Looking a little susceptible to viruses, the 350-lb. smokey-Simm stalled at 96 cents ($336).
The five-weight steers had 45 per cent fitting above $1.20 and 55 per cent under $1.20. Up top they had the 531-lb. (Char-Simms at $1.34 ($711), some 572-lb. Angus-Xs attained $1.20 ($686) and the 558-lb. Gelbvieh brought $1.15 ($642).
Half of the 6-weight steers in Virden crossed the $1.10 line, the top taken to $1.25 for the 612-lb. Char-Xs ($765). A couple of rings full of 674-lb. smokeys sold for $1.18 ($795) and the age-verified 664-lb. whites, red and blacks brought $1.10 ($730). The discount for extra frame was placed on the 632-lb. Char-Simm and Angus-Xs as they brought $1.08 ($683). Alberta 6s averaged $1.16 as did Ontario.
Heifers at 5s fit 69 per cent over the $1.10 mark and all but a couple of the remaining 31 per cent were over the dollar.
Nebraska heifers at 6s sold to a U. S. 95-cent average ($1.14), Ontario averaged $1.05 and Alberta was at the dollar.
In Virden there was 57 per cent of the 6-weight heifers over 95 cents up to $1.12 on the fancy pack of 602-lb. blacks and baldies. Thirty-five per cent sold above $1.10 and 8 per cent were under 95 cents. Some 643-lb. Char-smokies sold for $1.08 ($694), for the 698-lb. Red Angus-Xs they paid $1.01 ($705), some 672-lb. Simms stayed at 98 cents ($658) and a 600-lb. smokey showing the rat-tail ended up at 85 cents ($510).
In looking at the page that showed the largest volume, that being the 7-weight steers, 22 per cent of the order buying topped $1.10. It was over the dollar for 37 per cent and 41 per cent sold under a buck. It was only a pair at the peak of $1.15, the 741-lb. Red Angus-Xs ($852). Some 771-lb. blacks and baldies brought $1.03 ($794) and the too-tall all-sorts at 752 lbs. sold for 96 cents in red, white and combinations of both.
Heifers at 7s had 43 per cent over the buck, 44 per cent in the 90s and 13 per cent under 90 cents. Some 759-lb. Shaver Beefblend set the upper limit of $1.06 ($804) and the baldie pen of 5 weighing 792 lbs. sold for $1.03 ($816) and the 745-lb. Chars stayed at $1. The framey 770-lb. Char-Simm stayed at 83 cents ($639).
Cattle feeders looking for a late-summer finish, lodged 71 per cent of the 8-weight steers over the $1 and 29 per cent stayed under. Fingers waved and heads nodded up to the top of $1.04 for the 810-lb. Angus-Xs ($842) while the 889-lb. pen showing a little more exotic ran out of bids at 98 cents ($871). On the 9-weight steers, the stats said 31 per cent under 90 cents, and 68 per cent over 90. A dollar deal was done on the Gelbvieh-Xs, tans, whites and blacks weighing 904 lbs. The 973-lb. Simms, tans and Angus-Simms sold for 98 cents ($953) and the 21-head conglomeration of 955-lb. Char-Simms was sold for 90 cents ($859) and the 1,035-lb. Angus bull brought 85 cents ($880). A framey 935-lb. smokey stayed at 70 cents ($654).
Heifers at 8s had the replacement pens put 10 per cent over the dollar with the 816-lb. Angus-Xs at $1.09 ($889) and the 855-lb. Angus-Simms at $1. The 13 815-lb. Char-Xs sold at 98 cents ($798) and the shorter 847-lb. Red Angus-Xs ended up at 88 cents.
Heifers at 9s had 35 per cent in the 90s, 38 per cent in the 80s and 37 per cent under 80. It was a double ringful of 917-lb. Angus-Simms selling at the 97-cent top ($889) followed by the 911-lb. Angus-Xs at 89 cents ($811) and the 981-lb. blacks and whites with an 81-cent final bid ($795). For the real fleshy 1,060-lb. Angus the last bid was 77 cents ($816).
Virden cows came out with 42 per cent at 50 cents or better, 37 per cent in the 40s and 21 per cent under 40. There were a good number of age-verified papers coming through the door. That helped to draw out 59 cents on the young 1,710-lb. Char-Blonde ($1,009). Some feed went into the 1,545 Char-Simm at 64 cents ($988) along with her youth and the 1,463-lb. Herfs had a 49-cent finish ($717). There wasn’t much extra flesh on the 1,255 Red Angus as she brought 45 cents ($564).
The fairly skinny 1,190-lb. Chars sold for 50 cents ($595), the slight limp on the 1,345-lb. Herf set her at 35 cents ($471) and on top of a limp the health question came into play on the 1,400-lb. Herf, holding her to 10 cents ($140).
Bulls were at the other end of the spectrum. A 2,550-lb. Red Angus at 55 cents ($1,402) was at the lower end and the 2,505-lb. Angus achieved 74 cents ($1,853.)