Canada Feedlot Numbers Still Above 2018, Average

The estimated number of cattle in Canadian feedlots continues to hold well above last year and the 2013-2017 average, said CanFax, a private market advisory service that publishes the statistics.

The CanFax report came out last week, ahead of today’s scheduled monthly Cattle on Feed report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, in which feedlot placements were expected to take a large jump.




It can be said that the number of cattle on feed in Canada is following the seasonal trend, but just saying so might give a false impression that the numbers are fairly close together.  Such is not the case, however.

That would be true until about June of last year when the number of cattle on feed in Canada began to rise above the previous five-year average.  Since then, the numbers have held above average, and this year are holding consistently above the old numbers, establishing a new normal, if such can be said about any cattle on feed numbers.

The number of cattle bellying up to Canadian feed bunks on May 1 was listed at 1.003 million head, down 6,904, or 0.68%, from April’s 1.010 million.  However, this was up 94,716, or 10.4%, from 908,277 on May 1, 2018, and up 99,427, or 11.0%, from the 2013-2017 average of 903,566.




A seasonal downtrend in the number of cattle populating Canadian feedlots has begun with May’s decline from April, statistics show.  There is a very strong tendency for Canada’s cattle on feed numbers to decline to a Sep. 1 annual bottom before rising sharply to a Dec. 1 annual high.

An analyst said that seasonal tendency is very strong in Canada because of its climate changes from season to season.  The more extreme the differences between summer and winter, the more entrenched seasonal patterns become.  The actual numbers may differ from one year to the next, but the seasonal patterns are almost fixed.




But while the total number of cattle in Canada’s feedlots is up from last year and the average, the number of placements is holding very close to previous numbers, CanFax data showed.

On-feed numbers began to rise above the 2013-2017 average in June last year, but monthly placements of calves into these feed yards did not.  Only a small increase in placements over the five-year average could be seen from May through August last year, but the difference was not extremely large.

For instance, April, 2019 placements were listed at 151,123 head, down 24,329, or 13.9%, from 175,452 in March.  But this was up 42,914, or 39.7%, from 108,209 a year earlier and up 31,862.2, or 26.7%, from the previous five-year average of 119,260.8 head.

This implies that cattle are being fed longer than previously, either because of harsh weather or to achieve a fatter, more desirable, carcass.




Cash cattle trading was reported this week in the Plains at $114 to $116 per cwt, mostly $115, on a live basis, down $1 to $4 from last week.  Dressed-basis trading was seen at $185 to $186 per cwt, down $4 to $5.

The USDA choice cutout Thursday was up $1.04 per cwt at $220.79, while select was up $0.72 at $206.53.  The choice/select spread widened to $14.26 from $13.94 with 93 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $133.70 per cwt, up $1.54 from the previous day.  This compares with Thursday’s May contract settlement of $135.60, up $0.15.