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Klassen: Feeder cattle trend stalling out

Softer slaughter values in Alberta and stronger barley prices have tempered the upward trend in the feeder cattle market. Steers weighing 840 pounds in southern Alberta sold for $116 last week, which was steady with values earlier in November. Limited discounts were shown for Manitoba cattle as 775-lb. steers brought back $115 in the central region. Feedlots are filling up and the sense of urgency to buy replacement cattle has eased.

Cattle that have been on grass for an extended period of time or fed a rich forage ration may not appear hungry. Therefore, discounts are warranted if buyers see that the efficiencies will not be met.  I’ve had a few calls from cow-calf producers who have passed on sales. This is not wise because holding onto these cattle will only deteriorate their efficiencies further. Secondly, the same buyers will see these cattle later in fall and may want additional discounts. I’ve talked with many old-timers and passing on bids for fed or feeder cattle will usually come back to haunt you. 

The feeder cattle market will function to encourage expansion over the next 12 months. Bred cows are now 150 per cent higher than year-ago levels and current feeder cattle prices are justifying heifer retention.  Next spring, I’m concerned that barley prices may surge higher and delay the expansionary phase in the cattle cycle.

— Jerry Klassen is a commodity market analyst in Winnipeg and maintains an interest in the family feedlot in southern Alberta. He writes an in-depth biweekly commentary, Canadian Feedlot and Cattle Market Analysis, for feedlot operators in Canada. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or 204-287-8268 for questions or comments.

The material contained herein is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer for the sale or purchase of securities, options and/or futures or futures options contracts. While the information in this publication cannot be guaranteed, it was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The risk of loss in futures trading can be substantial. The article is an opinion only and may not be accurate about market direction in the future. Do not use this information to make buying or selling decision because adverse consequences may occur. This information may be wrong and may not be correct about current market conditions in all areas of Canada. This is an opinion only and not based on verified facts.

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Jerry Klassen

Jerry Klassen is manager of the Canadian office for Swiss-based grain trader GAP SA Grains and Products Ltd. and also president and founder of Resilient Capital, a specialist in commodity futures trading and commodity market analysis. He can be reached at (204) 504-8339 or visit his website at www.resilcapital.com.

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