The Western Producer (Canada)
February 18, 2021
This cattle market information is selected from the weekly report from Canfax, a division of the Canadian Cattlemen抯 Association. More market information, analysis and statistics are available by becoming a Canfax subscriber by calling 403-275-5110 or at www.canfax.ca.
Friendlier fed market
February has been much friendlier to the cattle feeder compared to last year. In 2020, prices dropped more than $10 from the start to the end of the month, and cash-to-cash basis levels went from +0.75 in January to -7.49 per hundredweight in February. Trading 88 cents per cwt. higher last week, weighted average steer prices set new annual highs and basis levels remained historically strong.
Competition on the cash market was supportive with both major packers getting cattle bought. Dressed sales were reported from $255- $256 per cwt. delivered, and cattle were being scheduled for two to three week delivery.
Since the beginning of the year Alberta fed prices have been trading at a premium to the U.S. market. U.S. feedlot placements in August-September were seven percent larger than last year, while Alberta-Saskatchewan placements were up one percent for those same months. That could explain the premium for the western Canadian market.
Western Canadian steer carcass weights declined 23 pounds to average 913 lb. For early February this ranks as the third largest weight. The two years that were larger occurred in 2019 (920 lb.) and 2016 (926 lb.). This fall and early winter have been ideal for cattle performance with producers reporting some of the best daily weight gains they have ever had. With record breaking low temperatures last week, it was the first real blast of winter to set cattle back and limit weight gains.
Fed cattle that are almost ready for market might not bounce back that quickly, but in general seven to 10 days of cold weather should not have a major impact on carcass weights.
In Ontario, dressed sales were reported at $240 per cwt. delivered, $2-$4 per cwt. stronger than the previous week. Over the past four weeks eastern Canadian fed slaughter has averaged 11,721 head compared to 10,906 head last year. The former Riding Regency plant in Ontario is reportedly scheduled to reopen in early March. This plant has been closed since September 2019.
In the U.S., dressed sales in the north were reported at mostly US$180 per cwt., steady to $2 per cwt. higher than the previous week. Live sales in the south were $114 per cwt., fully steady with the previous week. One major plant in Kansas was idle last week for maintenance but was to resume operations this week.
For the week ending Jan. 30, U.S. beef cow slaughter totalled 66,217 head. For the end of January it was the largest slaughter since 2012. Total U.S. beef exports for December were 12 percent higher than last year. From January to December beef exports were down two percent compared to 2019. Beef imports of December were down eight percent compared to last year.
Bull price rises ...
Cold slows auction volume ...
Cutouts steady to softer ...