Fed cattle supplies are the most current they have been in some time. Feedlot margins have just recently turned positive. Steer and heifer calves (550lb) placed in September 2022 and sold on the cash market in June 2023 are $300-400/head positive. For the month of June, this stands as the fourth-highest return for steer and heifer calves throughout the past 30 years. Competition on the cash market has been good with both major packers buying cattle. Dressed sales were reported from $413-415/cwt delivered, $3-4/cwt higher than last week. Cattle that traded were being scheduled anywhere from immediate to mid-July delivery. On a cash-to-cash basis, Alberta fed prices are trading at an estimated $1.21/cwt discount against the Nebraska market, the strongest basis since October 2021. Over the past couple of weeks, cattle grading yield 1 and 2 have ranged from 71.4-72.3%, one of the highest percentages seen all year.
With dry pasture conditions across the prairies, some early bought backgrounders and grass cattle are being flushed to auction. Increased cow/pair offerings also contributed to contra seasonally large auction volumes. Weekly auction volumes were 61% larger than the same week last year at 23,802 head. YTD auction volumes were up 5% from a year ago, totaling 619,948 head. Mid-weight 6-800 lb feeders traded generally steady to stronger. Larger feeders over 800 lb to place against the fourth-quarter fed market maintained momentum, with prices firming $5-7/cwt higher. Assuming $9/bushel barley and no risk management, the June Canfax Trends Report indicates 850 lb yearling steers placed against the December fed market are projected to lose $222/head, and shortkeep 950 lb yearling steers for November delivery are estimated $128/head in the red.
Non-fed prices eased modestly lower with D2 slaughter cows down over $2.50/cwt, and D3s eased modestly $0.75/cwt lower. Dressed cow bids traded sideways at $295-300/cwt delivered. The average D2 cow/AB steer price spread is trending seasonal at around 72% dressed. Butcher bull prices traded almost $2.50/cwt lower than the previous week, averaging $161.94/cwt. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending June 10 firmed 2% larger than the previous week at 6,060 head, and YTD was 7% larger, totaling 172,102 head.