Beef Market Update: Fat cattle hit all-time record high, as feeder cattle prices climb

(Debra Murphy/RealAgriculture)

There are lots of things we are always keeping our eyes on in the cattle markets, but today, our eyes are on the fed cattle markets.

Since our last Beef Market Update with Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange, the U.S. markets have taken a bit of a dive, while in western Canada we are focusing on some positive margins in the fed cattle market. We’re not going to give away too much, but here’s a little hint — they are up $6 higher than last week. By the time you calculate the live average at the feed yard, it’s going to be $3.50-$4 higher than last week.

As well, this week Wasko touches on why carcass weights are important, the western Canadian Cattle on Feed report, cattle exports, and more.

Tune in to the full conversation with Anne Wasko and host Shaun Haney, below, or check out the summary following the player:


  • The U.S. markets really fell victim to a lot of that financial market turmoil we’ve been seeing since last Friday
  • U.S. markets were down a buck live at $164 in the south and north, $264 dressed delivered in the north
  • Choice cutout lost a little bit of ground, around 60 cents versus a week ago, so not the same amount of pressure
  • Packers still holding their positive margins in terms of fed cattle
  • The big story is in Western Canada, we had another nice jump in the fed cattle market trading at $348 delivered draft which is $6 higher than last week
  • Alberta hit an all time record for fat cattle, with the last previous record being in 2015
  • There’s been some opportunities for astute risk managers
  • It’s been a very pricey past winter and year in terms of feed costs, input pricing, and all of those things. You’re going to find different varying levels of negative feeding losses at these prices
  • Feeder cattle prices are ratcheting drastically higher as well
  • Pen management…it’s not quite the same as it used to be
  • We hit some record steer carcass weights this past winter in Canada
  • This last week we were at 931, that’s still stubbornly high. Not record high, so they’ve come down from those levels at least
  • We had a text from a listener who listens to the show, and said that sometimes on the Beef Market Update, we don’t explain enough. So this weeks focus is carcass weight. Why is it important?
  • Last week, with our March 1 cattle on feed report, it was down five per cent. Those numbers keep coming down
  • We’re still above the five year average
  • February placements were down eight per cent
  • It’s certainly been interesting to watch the trade data
  • The Canadian dollar is definitely having some bearish tones to it. As an exporting nation, it certainly aids in terms of prices, in value of beef and value of cattle

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