Klassen: Feeder cattle market exhibits defensive tone


By Jerry Klassen, GFM Network News, Columnist

via Grainews (Canada) - March 31, 2021


March 30 Compared to the previous week, western Canadian feeder cattle markets traded steady to $3 lower on average. Alberta packers were buying fed cattle on a dressed basis in the range of $245-$249 delivered, down from the average value of $250 seven days earlier. Deteriorating feeding margins set a negative tone for the feeder cattle complex. Demand for yearlings was lethargic especially in the 850-pound-plus categories. Some backgrounding operators looking to move cattle direct off farm received sharply lower bids this past week. Calves appeared to hold value in some regions but drier conditions across the Prairies continue to weigh on the market. The February 2022 live cattle futures climbed back to contract highs, which was minorly supportive for the lighter-weight categories. Yearling prices for fall delivery look very strong and finishing feedlots were once again fairly aggressive for calves under 600 lbs.


South of Edmonton, mixed steers on full health program with medium flesh levels weighing 900 lbs. were quoted at $170; however, in southern Alberta, larger-frame Angus-blended steers with limited grain intake weighing just over 900 lbs. were valued at $168. In central Saskatchewan, tan steers with thicker butter levels weighing 860 lbs. were valued at $175 and similar-quality heifers weighing 840 lbs. were quoted at $142. In Manitoba, lower-flesh black steers weighing just over 800 lbs. dropped the gavel at $187 and Charolais heifers weighing 785 lbs. were quoted at $170.


In central Alberta, tan steers on full health program coming off light grain ration weighing 775 lbs. reached up to $190 and similar-quality and -weight heifers were quoted at $173. Northwest of Winnipeg, Simmental-based steers weighing 600 lbs. were reported at $208 and 600-lb. black heifers were valued at $183. North of Calgary, larger-frame black steers weighing 500 lbs. were quoted at $241 and Charolais heifers of similar weight were valued at $213.


The fed cattle market has larger supplies to absorb...