Canada Cattle On Feed Following Trend At Higher Level

As the number of cattle on feed in the US remains near last year, the number populating Canadian feedlots remains above near-earlier totals.

Data from CanFax, a Canadian market advisory firm, showed that cattle on feed in Alberta and Saskatchewan, totaled 943,959 head on July 1, down 79,041, or 7.73%, from 1.023 million a month earlier but up 43,952, or 4.88%, from 900,007 a year earlier and up 158,632, or 20.2%, from the 2014-2018 average of 785,327.

CanFax collects the numbers from feedlots in Alberta and Saskatchewan and allows the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver, CO, to compile them and to publish the total on feed and the number of new placements each month.  The LMIC issues them on its web site in graph form.  No information is given on the number of fed cattle marketed from Canadian feedlots.

For comparison, an Urner Barry survey of US cattle market analysts indicated the number of cattle on feed in the US on July 1 was 99.9% of a year earlier as placements rose to 103.9% of July 1, 2019, and marketings hit 101.1%.

On a monthly basis, the number of cattle in Canadian feedlots have been declining seasonally since May 1.  All things being equal, they should continue to decline into the annual low on Sep. 1.

Seasonalities in cattle feedlot numbers are stronger in Canada than in the US because of the severity of seasonal weather patterns, a market analyst said.  Winters are more severe and longer than in the contiguous 48 states, dictating cattle production cycles, rather than just strongly suggesting cattle cycles as in the US.

Feedlot numbers in Canada last year were above the 2014-2018 average, and this year’s numbers are above last year’s, the data showed.  The April 1 total dived to near the 2019 total, but remained above it, rebounding to the May high.




The number of cattle placed into Canadian feedlots in June totaled 82,459 head, down from May’s 91,351 head but 4,394, or 5.63%, more than the year-earlier number of 78,065 head and 8,824, or 12.0%, more than the previous five-year average of 73,635 head.

So, if placements are near average and last year (even below in March), and if feedlot populations are more than a year earlier or the five-year average, then they must be spending more time on feed, an analyst said.  Growth rates can fluctuate, but this likely wouldn’t explain the consistently larger numbers on feed over time.

Seasonally, the number of placements into Canadian feedlots should decline again in July to the low point of the year.  After that, placements should rise again into the October high as pastures begin to go dormant for the winter.

By October, most of the calves that were on grass should have been moved into feedlots, leaving only those that are on winter cover crops or in growing lots where they are fed mostly hay.




Fed cattle trade was reported Tuesday at $95 to $96 per cwt on a live basis, up $1 to down $4 from last week’s range.  Dressed-basis trading last week was at $157 to $160 per cwt, steady to up $2.

The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was down $0.86 per cwt at $200.88, while select was off $0.29 at $191.30.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $9.58 from $10.15 with 112 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday was $136.48 per cwt, up $0.17.  This compares with Tuesday’s Aug contract settlement of $141.32, down $0.27.