GFM Network News


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

Can you afford to select cows for longevity?

Keeping old cows isn’t improving performance of the beef herd

One of the biggest costs on a cow-calf operation is cow herd depreciation. For most of us, even if we are not aware of it, cow depreciation is our second-highest expense after cow herd maintenance. It is a problem often ignored because cull cows generate cash flow, but having cows drop out of the cow […] Read more


Duane and Bonnie Friesen and their three children, Daniel, Rebekka and Adele.

Meet your farming neighbours: Duane and Bonnie Friesen

This is the story of Duane and Bonnie Friesen, 
near Cecil Lake, B.C.

Every farm has its own story. No two farms (or farmers) are exactly alike. Everyone got started in a different way, and every farm has a different combination of family and hired staff who make the decisions and keep things running. But, in general, even after you consider all of the details, farmers are more alike than different. This is the story of Duane Freisen, who farms […] Read more

The difference between the cash market and the futures market is called the “basis,” and it can send an important message about when to sell or not sell.

More on feeder cattle risk management

Market Update: Looking a little deeper into messages from the market

In the winter of 2017 I wrote a series of articles about price risk management for feeder cattle. I discussed hedging feeder cattle on the CME feeder cattle futures and also conducted a risk analysis on the basis for feeder cattle prices in Manitoba. Read more: Understanding feeder cattle risk: Pt. 1 Read more: Understanding feeder cattle […] Read more


Sell calves early or hold them until spring

Market Update: Big U.S. calf crop will hit the market in November and December

Alberta fed cattle prices were hovering in the range of $143 to $145 in mid-August. The market has been trending lower since the first week of May when the fed market reached up to $197. Despite the softer selling prices, feeding margins remain in positive territory. Break-even pen closeout values are near $135 for August; […] Read more

Important to maintain proper BCS

Cattleman's Corner: Cows looking good going into winter still need to be fed

Warm temperatures and lots of rain right into fall regenerated pastures producing plenty of nutritious grasses for cattle. Many gestating cows are going into the winter, healthy and in decent shape. By feeding them well-balanced overwintering diets, we can continue this momentum, so these beef cows can get through a typical cold winter and be […] Read more


More thoughts on market options

You may not need a price premium to see benefits of preconditioned calves

Market analyst Jerry Klassen in his recent column isn’t painting a very bright cattle price outlook picture heading into this winter and early into 2017. An oversupply of beef in the U.S. and Canada is holding prices down. And of course those pork guys continue to push more product out the door — a lot […] Read more

*current financial status is based on time of writing (author) The final profit in this case

Preconditioning calves still pays this fall

Pencil out the costs and consider other marketing benefits as well

The weaned calf market reached a peak in the fall of 2014. Since then, mixed with lots of volatility, the value of weaned calves this fall is roughly half that nearly two years ago. Many cow-calf producers who sell weaned calves to feedlots are asking if preconditioning calves is really worth it. Yes, I believe […] Read more


Pencil the profits of creep feeding

In a 300-head herd it could mean about $7,000 worth of extra gain

For much of this summer a lot of rain has fallen across the Prairies and has made pastures lush with green grass. Many beef cow-calf producers which creep spring calves have found cows are literarily bursting with milk, so their spring calves are making few visits to the calf feeders. It has been my experience […] Read more

A good year to consider backgrounding cattle

Prices expected to be weakest during the fall of 2016

The U.S. cattle herd has been in the expansion phase over the past couple of years and it is difficult for many producers to come to terms with the recent price activity. I’ve received many calls from both cow-calf operators and feedlot operators in regards to the price outlook and I basically focus on the […] Read more