Latest articles

If you see a profit, take it

Markets have improved, but it likely won’t last

Fed and feeder cattle have been percolating higher over the past month as the market moves through a period of seasonal low beef production. Restaurant traffic sharply improves in March and April, and retail beef movement also increases. Consumers generally start eating more once spring rolls around and this year, the health of the overall […] Read more

Understanding feeder cattle options

The Markets: Using a “put” option to avoid margin calls

In the previous three columns on feeder cattle marketing (found in the ‘On our network’ column on the right-hand side of this page), I’ve discussed hedging feeder cattle production using the feeder cattle futures market. Many producers hesitate to use a futures market because of the cash flow requirements. When you sell a futures contract, there […] Read more

Understanding risk for feeder cattle: Pt. 3

The Markets: Don’t buy unless the basis is favourable for a profit

This is the third article in the ‘Understanding risk for feeder cattle’ series. I started by explaining the feeder cattle futures market and basic theory of hedging. The second column focused on average basis levels and using these basis levels to forecast an expected selling price. I analyzed the risk and reward of backgrounding 550-pound […] Read more

General movement toward higher production

Market Update: Feeder cattle prices may not get much better than they are right now

Fed cattle prices were hovering in the range of $158 to $160 in mid-February, slightly lower than month-ago levels. The markets are relatively strong and I’m expecting the yearly highs to occur over the next month. First-quarter beef production is coming in marginally lower than anticipated, but supplies are building. The recent cattle-on-feed report and […] Read more

Understanding feeder cattle risk: Pt. 2

Market Update with Jerry Klassen: You don’t want to be using marketing tools to lock in a loss

The feeder cattle market has experienced extreme volatility over the past three years. For this reason, I’ve been writing on managing financial risk for feeder cattle and particularly for backgrounding operations and cow calf producers. In the first column, I discussed the mechanics of hedging, explained historical basis levels and using these basis levels to […] Read more

Understanding feeder cattle risk: Pt. 1

Market Update with Jerry Klassen: A hedging program can remove some of the uncertainty

In the January 24 Grainews issue, I explained the feeder cattle futures market and the simple mechanics of hedging feeder cattle. In this column, I want to take one step further and discuss the financial risk associated with backgrounding or selling feeder cattle. Read more: Important to understand the futures Read more: Producers hit with […] Read more

Short-term gains, long-term pains

The market still needs to discourage beef production — and that hurts

Fed and feeder cattle prices have been percolating higher recently as the markets adjust to lower-than-expected first-quarter beef production. Alberta fed cattle prices have been hovering in the range of $162 to $165, which is approximately $25 above break-even pen closeout values. Healthy feedlot margins allowed feedlots to bid up feeder cattle prices. Larger-frame steers […] Read more

Important to understand the futures

Market Update: Learn to use hedging tools when selling calves

Over the past year, I’ve received many inquiries from cow-calf producers about hedging feeder cattle. Most producers calve during the winter or spring and sell their feeders in the fall or the following winter after backgrounding. We’ve all seen how the prices can change within a six- to 10-month period. One of the most common questions I […] Read more

The 2017 market has flickering bright lights

Lower retail prices help to fuel increased beef demand

The price outlook for fed and feeder cattle prices has improved over the past month. First, beef production during the first half of 2017 will be lower than earlier anticipated. Second, offshore North American beef demand has strengthened in Southeast Asia due to lower exports from Australia. Third, Canadian exports of fed cattle and beef […] Read more

cattle in a feedlot

Market recovery still a year away

Market Update: Production is still high, start of beef herd contraction possible in late 2017

On top of the CBOT building in Chicago stands a statue of “Ceres” — the Greek goddess of grain crops and fertility. An old myth amongst traders is that after a major bull run in a market when traders usually did very well, the Greek goddess wanted her money back. Fed cattle prices have been […] Read more