The Alberta fed market has now been range bound for 10 straight weeks and prices once again trended sideways. Dressed sales were marked at $390/cwt delivered and thin reported live trade was generally comparable. The weighted average steer price closed the week at $232.53/cwt. Heifer trade was limited and a weekly price trend was not established. The cash basis was estimated at around -$23.24/cwt, but failed to attract U.S. buying interest despite a softer Canadian dollar. YTD Western fed slaughter was down 7% from the same week last year to 1,696,358 head. YTD fed cattle/cow exports were down 1% to 376,196 head.
Over the past four weeks, AB auction volumes (sale ring and electronic) totaled just over 307,000 head, 34,000 head larger than last year. For the month of October, this is the largest auction volume since 2005. The combination of historically larger auction volumes, weakness in the futures market, and poor weather conditions, caused some logistic issues. It was a tough week for the calf and feeder market, with prices $10-15/cwt lower. From an observation perspective, we’re seeing larger discounts than normal on some of the Northern Alberta calves, resulting in wider price ranges for some weight classes this week. Over the past five weeks, 550 lb steer prices have declined $21/cwt, while 550 lb heifer calves have dropped $34/cwt over that same time frame.
Non-fed volumes have seasonally increased, with some auction facilities reporting large volumes of slaughter cows at their weekly sales. Despite larger numbers, D2 cows traded $1.50/cwt higher this week and have gained $5/cwt over the past month. Western Canadian cow slaughter for the week ending October 21st totaled just over 8,000 head; for the second half of October; this is the largest slaughter since 2013. Butcher bulls have struggled relative to cow market. This week, butcher bulls traded steady and are at the lowest point since April.
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