The Western Canadian fed market has clearly exceeded expectations as prices continue to rally, setting new highs. Over the past seven weeks, fed prices have rallied $20/cwt going from $210/cwt to now averaging in the low $230s/cwt. Competition on the cash market was good, with both major packers buying cattle. Dressed sales were reported from $385-390/cwt delivered. Cattle were being scheduled anywhere from immediate to the first week in June delivery. Basis levels are now right in line with the five-year average (+$9.03/cwt). From their highs in late January, Western Canadian steer carcass weights have declined 89 lbs. Despite seasonally lower carcass weights, Canadian Prime and AAA grade percentage was reported at 74.65%.
Good feeder demand was observed last week, and prices traded generally steady to $1/cwt stronger. Middle weight 5-600 lb steers and heifers firmed modestly higher and established new historic highs. Good grass interest also firmed 6-700 lb steer calves $3/cwt higher than the previous week to a new record high. A light test of 1,000 lb Alberta heifers saw a significant $30+/cwt price premium to spot for deferred September delivery. Total auction volumes were 14% larger than the previous week at 30,525 head and were 11% larger than the same week last year. YTD feeder exports continue to track significantly below year ago, down 55% at 43,080 head.
Slaughter cow prices rallied $3-4/cwt higher than the previous week. D2 slaughter cows averaged $150.21/cwt and are within $1/cwt of record highs seen in 2015. D3 cows traded $20/cwt back of D2s averaging $130.14/cwt. Dressed cow bids rallied to a new historic high this week, with reports from $280-290/cwt delivered. Butcher bulls continue to trade in a tight range and averaged $155.23/cwt. Western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending April 29 was 21% lower than the previous week at 5,965 head and YTD was up 11% to 135,648 head.
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