The Alberta fed cattle market tone was softer with lackluster trade interest reported during the four days prior to the July 1st holiday. Most trade was reported steady, with the lower end of the week prior at $292/cwt delivered. One packer was offering a +$2/cwt premium for 70% AAA grades. Weighted average steer price eased around $1/cwt lower than the previous week to $173.18/cwt. Thin heifer trade was reported comparable with steers, but volumes were too slight to fully establish a weekly price trend. YTD Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending June 25th was 4% larger, totaling 1,078,334 head. Steer carcass weights eased lower across Canada and nationally were 7 lb lower than the previous week at 873 lb.
On a light test of the market, calf and feeder prices traded mixed. Steers weighing over 800 lb set a new annual high, while heifer prices were a couple of dollars shy. With recent rains, there has been renewed buying interest from many grass operators. With lighter volumes of calves and feeders on offer, grass buyers have been showing interest on all classes of cattle from light calves to heavier weight feeders and even heiferettes. Smaller volumes of light weight calves and varying quality are likely contributing to the narrow price slide. Canadian feeder cattle exports to the U.S. for the week ending June 18th totaled 4,002 head, 133% larger than last year and 94% larger than the five-year average.
Even with recent rains across much of the prairies, non-fed volumes have not slowed as much as expected. With cow prices hitting the highest level since 2017, strong salvage prices could be one reason why volumes have been slow to moderate. Trading $1.65/cwt higher last week, butcher bulls established new annual highs. For the month of June, butcher bulls are on track to average in the $128/cwt area, the second highest price on record. For D2 cows, this will be the fourth highest price on record for the month of June.
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