Klassen: stronger beef demand and positive margins support feeder cattle

Feeder cattle in Western Canada were steady to $1 higher on average last week, with active feedlot demand chasing good-quality cattle. In Southern Alberta, seven-weight steers were selling for $114 to $120 while cattle in the 800- to 900-pound category were bringing back $103 to $106.

Oklahoma markets saw cattle weighing 750 pounds bring back $114 while large-frame steers averaging 850 pounds sold for $108.

There are a couple of large sales in Southern Alberta next week and this will be the official start of the fall yearling run. Feeder cattle prices generally trend higher into the first week of September and we are seeing a similar price pattern. Feeder cattle prices are $8 to $10 higher than last year due to the positive feedlot margins over the past five months. Feedlot operators tend to be quite generous, bidding up the market and passing on some of the better returns to cow calf producer.

McDonalds Co. net income climbed 12 per cent in the second quarter as U.S. sales jumped 3.7 per cent and European sales increased by 4.6 per cent. This is a good signal for the beef market as over 50 per cent of all beef is sold as trimmings. Lower U.S. beef imports from Argentina and Australia has supported the North American hamburger market. Favourable barbeque weather has also contributed to the stronger demand; average U.S. regular ground beef prices are at two-year highs. A recovering U.S. economy, stronger beef wholesale values and higher U.S. fed cattle prices will cause feeder cattle to stay firm throughout the fall period.

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.

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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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