Good demand was observed on last week’s large cash offering and prices trended fully steady with the previous week. Most sales were reported in a tight $284-286/cwt delivered trade range. Weighted average steers were the strongest weekly average reported since June 2017. Most cattle priced last week were scheduled for the first week of June delivery. Western Canadian fed slaughter for the week ending April 30th totaled 45,512 head. Year-to-date (YTD) Western fed slaughter volume was 4% larger at 723,433 head. Canadian fed cattle/cow exports to the U.S. for the week ending April 23rd realigned 17% larger than the previous week to 9,650 head and YTD volume was 9% larger at 168,251 head.
Despite record high feed grain prices, calf and feeder prices continue to trade close to year ago levels. Volumes are not large, but some grass cattle that would not traditionally be marketed until late summer are starting to hit the market now as producers try to manage stocking rates. The next couple of weeks will be critical for moisture, if mother nature does not cooperate, the situation could be similar to last year, where grass cattle were placed into feedlots well ahead of schedule. Targeting the October fed market, 8-900 lb steers are being purchased with a breakeven price in the low $190/cwt. The forward delivery market was lightly tested, Alberta 1,000 lb+ steers for September delivery averaged $211.59/cwt. YTD 2022 Canadian feeder cattle exports totaled 95,750 head, the largest since 2015.
Competition for auction cows was not as strong as it has been over the past couple of weeks and one major packer was buying most of the cows last week. Alberta cow prices have moved back to a premium against the U.S. market. Increased cow slaughter rates are likely due to reduced cow exports to the U.S. over the last month and more cows slaughtered domestically. With flooding in parts of eastern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, we could see a few more calving culls coming out of those particular areas. It would not be surprising if packers started to reduce D grade hours in the upcoming weeks.
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