Local trade got off to a rocky start last Tuesday with prices $2.00-3.00 lower than the previous week. Moderate trade did finally develop on Wednesday with average prices generally $2.50 lower than last week. Light trade on Thursday saw prices around $1.00 higher than Wednesday. The Canfax average fed steer price last week was $106.94/cwt down $2.36/cwt and heifers traded $2.79/cwt lower to average $106.23/cwt. Sales volumes of 18,051 head were 9% larger than the previous week and 6% larger than this week last year. The cash to futures basis widened slightly to -4.75 compared to -4.42 the previous week. USDA reported fed export volumes for the week ending April 16th were 8% lower than the previous week at around 9,800 head, and were 18% lower than this week last year.

As investors pull funds and liquidate long positions, feeder cattle futures were pressured lower. Softer nearby cattle futures and the high Canadian dollar continue to weigh on feeder values. The Canfax average feeder steer price last week was $0.25/cwt higher and heifers traded $1.00/cwt lower. Auction volumes were just under 23,000 head, up 35% compared to the previous week. USDA reported feeder exports to the U.S. for the week ending April 16th of 2,900 head which were down 75% from year ago. YTD feeder exports of approximately 33,200 head are down 53% compared to the same period a year ago.

This week non-fed values transitioned slightly lower as American boner cow prices firmed. D1, D2 cows traded $1.35/cwt lower with a Canfax average price of $78.25/cwt and D3 cows saw prices ease slightly lower to average $70.33/cwt. Butcher bull prices trended just over $2.00/cwt lower to average $87.22/cwt with a range of $75.00-98.00/cwt. USDA reported that non-fed slaughter exports from Canada for the week ending April 16th were down 7% compared to the previous week at 3,531 head.

Bull factors

  • Demand for middle cuts is strengthening.

  • Spring feedlot pen conditions have improved somewhat.

  • North America remains a net exporter of beef heading into peak demand season.

Bear factors

  • The local cash market is now seeing a seasonal increase of fed calf volumes.

  • US packers slowing slaughter rates due to poor margins.

  • Retailers are reluctant to realign prices and feature beef.

For more detailed information on markets this week please visit the Canfax website www.canfax.ca.