The Western Canadian feeder cattle market has been trading $3 per hundredweight (cwt) lower to $2/cwt higher in comparison to seven days earlier.
Heavier receipts were noted at most auction barns with spring-born calves coming on the market in full swing. Once again, the market remains sensitive to quality features with pre-conditioned calves trading at a slight premium. Feedlot operators were in a better mood this week, as the Alberta fed market reached up to $123/cwt. Pen closeouts are showing profitable numbers but a cautious buying attitude remains in effect.
U.S. Choice wholesale beef values touched $205/cwt, the highest levels since March, with packers and retailers gearing up for the holiday season. Stronger consumer demand appears to be trickling into the feeder complex as ongoing support for wholesale beef enhances feedlot margins.
An exotic group of steers weighing 638 pounds sold for $155/cwt in east-central Alberta. Top-quality pre-conditioned Charolais calves weighing just under 700 pounds traded for $155/cwt, landed in Lethbridge-area feedlot. Larger-framed Simmental cross steers averaging 850 lbs. with medium-type flesh were quoted at $145/cwt in southern Alberta. There appeared to be larger discounts for heifers this week, which tend to occur when larger volumes come on the market. Overall, yearling-quality cattle are hard to come by this time of year; therefore, heavier pre-conditioned calves were well supported.
Feedlot operators are eyeing the early spring period for fed cattle marketings.
Southern Alberta barley traded at $4 per bushel this week while elevator bids in the eastern Prairies remain in the range of $2.50-$2.85/bu. Feeder cattle prices have not fully adjusted to the lower barley values. It’s important that cow-calf producers realize the June live cattle futures are trading at a $7 discount to the April contract. Lighter calves are going to be sold into this summer fed market, which has limited the upside price potential.
— 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] for questions or comments.