Alberta direct cattle sales saw moderate volume trade last week with weighted average prices closing $2.28 and $3.14/cwt lower than the previous week for steers and heifers respectively. Dressed prices were generally $3-4/cwt lower than the previous week’s rail average in a full $258-263/cwt delivered trade range. Light live trade was reported comparable with rail sales at $154.50/cwt. Western Canadian fed cattle slaughter for the four-day week ending July 3rd was not surprisingly 18% smaller than the previous week and YTD Western fed slaughter was 19% larger totaling 1,071,238 head. Canadian fed cattle/cow exports to the US for the week ending June 26th were mostly steady with the previous week at 4,114 head.
Auction volumes were light last week and prices trended steady to lower. Over the past couple of weeks there has been a good mix of grass yearlings and background feeders trading on the cash market. In spots, lighter fleshed steers coming out of background lots are not trading at much of a discount compared to grass cattle. The largest price difference between background and grass cattle is showing up on heifers. Last week, BC and SK steer calves weighing from 500-600 lbs for October/November delivery traded from $212-241/cwt with a weighted average price of $224.48/cwt based at 553 lbs. On average same weight heifers were priced $25/cwt back of the steers. Forward delivery calf prices are not too far out of line with current cash prices.
With the July 1st holiday, small sale volumes were noted last week with only a few auction facilities running sales. The auction marts that did run a sale were reporting over 50% of their offering was non-fed cattle. Drought pressure continues to be evident as there has been more cow/calf pairs and non-fed cattle on the market compared to what would normally be on offer for this time of the year. From their first half of the year high in mid-June, butcher cow prices have dropped $5-8/cwt. June was a big cow slaughter month for Western Canada, cow slaughter totaled over 28,000 head, the largest slaughter since 2010. YTD Canadian bull exports are down 22% compared to last year, with fewer bulls being exported to the US more are being slaughtered in Canada.
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