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Debbie McMillin – for Oct. 4, 2010

Fed Cattle

Recent strength in the Canadian dollar, weaker futures, increased inventories and slower beef movement have all put pressure on the fed cattle market in the past few weeks. By the second week of September Alberta fed steers were back down to $89.38 after touching $91.39 at the start of the month. The fed basis is -11.76, the widest it has been in recent years.

Feedlots continue to market aggressively but large seasonal supplies and long-bought packers are pushing carcass weights up in Canada. From the second quarter low of 807 pounds, steer carcasses hit 865 pounds in the first week of September. Weights are increasing faster than in 2009 and 2008, and at 865 pounds exceeded anything recorded in 2009.

On September 1 Alberta and Saskatchewan lots held 593,081 head on feed. This continuing decline in the on-feed numbers reflects the number of cattle remaining on the grass, and aggressive marketing by feedlots into the strong summer fed market. On-feed numbers are down six per cent from last year and placements are off 19 per cent. Mind you, last year’s placements were somewhat inflated by drought conditions. Steer slaughter to date is up four per cent on the year at 1,099,907 head while heifer slaughter rose seven per cent to 729,689. To the end of July Canada had exported 218,605 fed steers to the U. S., 45 more that last year. Fed heifer exports were up 10 per cent at 166,600 head.

Feeder Cattle

While larger numbers of yearlings were still coming to market at the start of September, the fall calf run was slow getting underway. Yearling prices remained strong. The first two weeks of the month saw prices on 850 steers in central Alberta jump more than $2.50 to an average $109.32 per cwt. That’s more than $12 better than 2009. The 850-pound feeder basis tends to narrow at this time of year. Currently it is -5.67/cwt. Last year at this time it was -9.70; in 2008 it was -16.74 per cwt.

Calf prices rallied in mid-September as good grazing conditions kept cow-calf pairs on grass and volumes at the auction were sought after. The 550-pound feeder steer price at mid-September was $127.05, up nearly $11 from a month earlier and $18.85 better than the same week in 2009.

Feeder cattle exports to the end of July totalled 163,740 head, down 26 per cent year to year.

Non-Fed Cattle

As expected D1,2 cow prices started to decline seasonally in September but at a slower than normal pace. Last year the annual high was set just 15 weeks into the year at $56.01 per cwt followed by a low in the fourth quarter at $33.91. In 2010 the weekly high was set in August at $ 60.88. The average D1, 2 cow price the second week of September was $56.96 per cwt. Bull prices rallied at the start of September, ranging from $60-80 with an average near $72. Cow and bull exports to the U. S. to the end of July were mixed, cow shipments were up 18 per cent while bulls were down 20 per cent from 2009. Slaughter numbers were mixed as well, but just the opposite. Cow slaughter to Sept. 4 was down 15 per cent year to year at 361,570 head and bull slaughter at 18,080 head was up 85 per cent over last year



1-3—Olds Fall Classic Beef Show, Megadome,

Olds, Alta. 7-8—Young Canadian Simmentalers National Classic, Expo Boeuf, Victoriaville, P. Q.


AGCO Marketing Services 10, 11 Alberta Beef Producers Ashland International Bow Slope Shipping Assoc. Calgary Stockyards Ltd. Canadian Agri-Blend Canadian Angus Assoc. Canadian Charolais Assoc. Canadian Gelbvieh Assoc. Canadian Limousin Assoc.

Canadian Red Angus Promotion Society Canadian Simmental Assoc. Canadian Western Agribition Direct Livestock Marketing Federation des producteurs

de bovins du Quebec 43 Greener Pastures 41

13, 19, 33, IBC 42 42 42

9 42 42 5, 15, 26, 27 43 29 43 41 23


7 42 42 42 31 IFC OBC 41 41 21 41 17 42

Innisfail Auction Market Ltd. 42 Intervet Canada Corp. Kawartha Lakes Co-op Killarney Auction Mart

Meadow Lake Stockyards Ltd. Novartis Animal Health Canada Ontario Livestock Exchange Perlich Bros. Auction Market Ltd. Pfizer Animal Health

Picture Butte Auction Market PowerFlex Fence

Provost Livestock Exchange Ranch Management Consultants Ridley Block Ops/Crystalyx

Triple J Livestock Ltd. 43 VJV Foothill Livestock Auction 43 Winnipeg Livestock Sales Ltd. 43

7-9—International Limousin Conference,

Guadalajara, Mexico 8-10—Canadian Simmental Assoc. Annual

General Meeting Victorin Hotel, Victoriaville,

P. Q. 19—Lakeland College Open House-Vermilion

Campus, Vermilion, Alta. 20—Lakeland College Open House-Lloydminster

Campus, Lloydminster, Alta. 22-23—Red Roundup, Westerner, Red Deer,

Alta. 30—Edam Fall Fair Show and Sale, Edam Fairgrounds, Edam, Sask.


4-7—Manitoba Livestock Expo, Keystone

Centre, Brandon, Man. 4-7—Lloydminster Stockade Roundup, Lloydminster

Stockade, Lloydminster, Sask./Alta. 5-14—Royal Winter Fair, Exhibition Place,

Toronto, Ont. 8-14—Farmfair International, Northlands

Park, Edmonton, Alta. 10-13—Saskatoon Fall Fair, Prairieland Park,

Saskatoon, Sask. 20-27—40th Edition Canadian Western Agribition,

Evraz Place, Regina, Sask. 22—Canadian Gelbvieh Association AGM, Exhibition Place, Regina, Sask.


2-4—Gelbvieh Assoc. of Alberta and B. C. Wish List Weekend, Olds Cow Palace, Olds,

Alta. 8-9—Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan Inc. Conference, Saskatoon Inn, Saskatoon, Sask.


21-22—Canadian Bull Congress 25th Anniversary Edition, Camrose Exhibition, Camrose, Alta.



19—46th Annual Fenton Fall Hereford Sale-

Bulls, Females and ranch-raised Quarterhorses, at the ranch, Irma, Alta.


5—Davidson Gelbvieh &Lonesome Dove 22nd Annual Bull Sale, Heartland Livestock, Swift Current, Sask.

12—Genuine Genetics Galloway Bull Sale, Innisfail Auction Mart, Innisfail, Alta., contact 403-227-3428

DebbieMcMillinisamarketanalystwho ranchesatHanna,Alta.

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About the author


Debbie McMillin is a market analyst who ranches at Hanna, Alta.



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