Beef Farmers Of Ontario Commentary

By Jamie Gamble, Market Information Coordinator, Beef Farmers of Ontario

Please note that volumes this week are lighter due to the Good Friday holiday, which resulted in only six days of data as opposed to the usual seven days.

314 fed steers and heifers sold through auction markets this week down 154 head from last week, and 172 less than the same time last year. Fed steers sold from $146.19-$158.16 averaging $152.10 down $3.70 from last week BUT $1.61 stronger than the same week last year. Heifers sold from $140.34-$160.16 averaging $154.23 up $2.79 from last week and $4.56 higher than last year at this time. This week is the first time since the week ending October 8, 2015 that prices for the week averaged higher than one year ago.

Auction markets reported trade as steady to $1.00-$2.00 higher in some areas, but ended the week with just the good quality cattle trading mostly steady. The Ontario railgrade prices this week had lost a couple of dollars off the bottom end of the range the previous Friday, but prices improved on Monday and held steady the remained of the week. Steers started out at $266.00-$271.00 dressed, to $268.00-$271.00 on Monday and held steady, while heifers started out at $265.00-$270.00 dressed the previous Friday, to $267.00-$270.00 on Monday, also holding steady. This week’s average prices were down $1.00 from last week and just $2.50 below last year at this time.

There were 1,492 cull cows sold through auction markets this week down 732 head from last week and 945 less that last year at this time. Cull cows sold from $66.27-$90.89 averaging $78.05 up $0.21 from last week and $6.33 below year ago prices. Auction markets early week, reported active trading with prices steady to $1.00 higher on good demand. The remainder of the week the market was fully steady. Lighter receipts of just 3,141 stocker and feeder cattle sold through auction markets this week down 3,000 head from last week and 2,205 less that the same week last year.

Auction markets reported light weight grass types as steady to $2.00-$3.00 higher with heavier weights steady on the good quality while fleshier types and medium quality sold under pressure. Plainer cattle were down $2.00-$5.00 in spots. Actual average prices for this week saw steers 400-500 lbs average $9.89 higher than last week, steers 500-600 lbs were down $10.59, 600-700 lbs down $5.99, 700-800 lbs up $10.90, 800-900 lbs up $3.19, 900-1000 lbs down $1.57 and steers over 1000 lbs averaged $1.86 higher than last week on average.

Heifers between 300-400 lbs were down $9.88 from last week on average, heifers 400-500 lbs were up $0.12, 500-600 lbs up $1.36, 600-700 lbs up $6.21, 700-800 lbs up $5.59, 800-900 lbs down $1.65 and heifers 900 lbs plus averaged $0.98 below last week’s weighted average prices. The Quebec electronic market on Wednesday ranged from $260.00-$266.50 dressed, up $1.21 from last week on average.

Alberta direct trade the week ending April 6th was light with prices easier on a dressed basis. Canfax reported dressed steer sales from $278.50-$286.00 dressed, down $5.65 from last week on average while heifers sold from $278.50-$284.00 down $8.47 on average. At time of reporting, business has not been reported for this week but bids are noted as $1.00-$2.00 higher than last week on a dressed basis. Canfax noted: “Producers are indicating it is going to take at least steady to higher money to buy cattle this week.”

The US cash cattle trade for the week ending April 6th, reported by the USDA Mandatory Price report, ranged from $120.00-$126.00 live mid-week to $122.00-$127.00 on Friday afternoon. Overall steers this week averaged $124.33 live, down $3.05 on average, while heifers were $125.38 down $2.27 from the previous week on average. On the rail mid-week sales ranged from $194.00-$200.00 dressed but on Friday the market was from $196.00-$200.00 dressed, with steers averaging $198.01 down $7.00 and heifers $199.01 down $6.80. This week, at the Fed Cattle Exchange online auction, there were 5,245 head on offer with just one lot of 120 head sold at $126.00 live. Sellers were pricing cattle this week from $125.00-$130.00 on a live basis but packers resisted, resulting in the cattle being passed.

On the cash market a couple of sales in the south were noted at $126.00, up $2.00 from last week, but not enough to establish a market. At time of reporting Thursday afternoon, some light trade has developed in the south at $128.00 live up $2.00-$3.00 from last week, while bids in the north are sitting at $200.00-$206.00 dressed, which is stronger than last week’s weighted average prices, but no sales have been reported at this time. The market should turn active at any time in order to complete this week’s business before the long weekend.