Beef Market Update: Looking at the spring highs

(Chase Chambers/RealAgriculture)

As the growing season really gets going across North America, we’re starting to see a little more hope on where the grass is growing, and there’s a bit more optimism out there in the pasture — especially in southwestern Saskatchewan, which has faced multiple years of hard drought and where this week’s Beef Market Update is coming from, with Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange.

In not-so-positive of news, northern Alberta fires are still continuing to burn, and as we heard from Brad Dubeau, general manager of the Alberta Beef Producers earlier this week, the total number of cattle impacted by wildfires is unknown at this time. 

What we do know is there has been a lot of displacement of livestock, and trying to manage that while keeping people and animals out of harm’s way has been a difficult task. Our hearts go out to them.

Learn more about what’s going on in the cattle markets with Beef Market Update host Shaun Haney and Anne Wasko, below:

SUMMARY:

  • We’ve come into May, which many would expect to see spring highs for the U.S. By the looks of it, they are likely behind us. It’s pretty quiet down in the south
  • No big surprises but overall a quiet week
  • The choice cutout looks like it’s likely topped, it was four bucks lower this week, just under $306. That’s still a great price, especially if you go back to pre COVID-19 levels, but certainly off from what it was a week ago
  • Its’s pretty normal what we’re seeing going on interns of timing and seasonality
  • Locally, the Alberta fed cattle market was very solid again, steady $385-$390 delivered dressed
  • All time record highs as we’ve been in for some time
  • Carcass weights in Canada — last week’s average was 900 pounds on a steer, that’s 37 pounds below last year
  • It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to talk about carcass weights below a year ago, let alone below the five year average
  • Carcass weights still have some downside. Seasonally, they make their low kind of around the end of June
  • We had a really good slaughter pace in Canada through the first quarter, but kind of in April and May, we’ve seen those levels lighten up
  • We’ve got another update from CanFax coming later today
  • Breaking down fed cattle versus a cow kill, year to date, our fed cattle kills were down five per cent, and our cows are still up seven per cent
  • In North America we’ve still got strong demand for our lean beef — what makes up our hamburger supply
  • Our feeder cattle exports for the first quarter are down about 68 per cent
  • Cattle exports were down 24 per cent on live cattle
  • We know that supplies are tightening, and pen space continues to grow, especially in southern Alberta
  • There’s going to be tight competition for feeder cattle, and Wasko thinks that’s the storyline for the rest of the year
  • They’re going to do all they can to keep what supplies they can here in Canada

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