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cow and calf on pasture

Cattle market looking strong in many respects

Market Update: Not a great fall to be thinking of backgrounding calves

In early August, Alberta packers were buying fed cattle in the range of $244 to $247 on a dressed basis while live-basis prices were quoted in the range of $145 to $146. The market has traded in a sideways range throughout the summer and it appears that the seasonal lows may be in place. Beef demand is coming in higher than anticipated with the […] Read more

Yearlings gain on tighter supplies

Market Update: Feedlots counting on lower feed costs this fall

In late June, Alberta packers were buying fed cattle in the range of $243 to $245/hundredweight on a dressed basis and $143 to $145 on a live basis. The fed cattle market has dropped about $12 over the past month and will likely continue to grind lower into July and August. The U.S. and Canadian […] Read more

Feeder red ink will affect fall calf market

Market Update: Consumer spending to slow while beef production increases

Alberta fed cattle prices were hovering in the range of $153 to $155 in mid-May as the market moved through a period of seasonal strong demand. U.S. cattle-on-feed inventories continue to run five to seven per cent above year-ago levels. Larger market-ready supplies have caused the U.S. weekly slaughter pace during May to average about […] Read more

Cattle market absorbing larger supplies

Market Update: Beef consumption increasing after early-spring snowstorms

Alberta packers were buying fed cattle in the range of $263 to $265 per hundredweight on a dressed basis in late April while live sales were reported from $157 to $169. The market appears to have stabilized after a softer tone earlier in spring. Analysts are expecting second-quarter beef production to come in sharply higher […] Read more

Looking at the feed grain component

Risk Management Part 5: More feeder cattle equals more feedlot placements, equals larger beef production

With this final article for the series on risk management for cow-calf producers, I note the previous columns discussed a specific aspect of the cash and futures market relationships. Producers are aware of when basis and futures levels are favourable and can use this information for buying price insurance or placing hedges on the feeder […] Read more


Calf market will feel the pinch come fall

Market Update: It will take time to work burdensome beef supplies through the U.S. system

Alberta fed cattle prices have traded in the range of $162 to $166 throughout February and March, but the market is poised to grind lower during the second quarter due to the large year-over-year increase in second-quarter beef production. Fed cattle are poised for a $15 to $20 drop over the next couple of months […] Read more

cattle in a feedlot

Other indicators affecting cattle market decisions

Risk Management Part 4: Who’s using the futures market and what are their intentions?

In my previous article, I discussed four possible market environments and the possible marketing or hedging strategies for each environment. Cow-calf producers will know if the basis is weak or strong based on longer-term historical data. The price range of the futures market over the past two years will provide a good idea if the futures market is in […] Read more

To sell or background calves?

Risk Management Part 3: The futures and basis will guide key decisions

This is the third article on price risk management for feeder cattle. In the first article, I provided a review of using the average basis to project an expected forward price for 550-pound steer calves and 850-pound yearlings. In the second article, I answered some common questions from producers. I showed producers should factor in […] Read more

Tighter feeder cattle availability ahead

Market Update: Drought in southern Plains has moved more cattle to feedlots

In mid-February, Alberta packers were buying fed cattle in the range of $273 to $275 on a dressed basis while live prices were quoted from $163 to $165. Fed cattle prices have been relatively flat so far this year. However, feeder cattle prices dropped sharply in January and failed to recover. This is largely due […] Read more

Feeder cattle basis analysis

Finishing at least some of your own calves is a diversification measure

In my previous article, I provided a brief overview of last year’s series of articles on price risk management for feeder cattle. In this column I will continue the discussion and also answer some of the main questions producers had last year. Cow-calf producers are becoming more familiar with the basis level for their local […] Read more