Canada Feedlot Population Up Slightly From January

The number of cattle populating Canada’s feedlots in Alberta and Saskatchewan on Feb. 1 totaled 1.010 million head, a slight increase from a month earlier and ran counter to the seasonal trend.

The data came from the private market advisory firm Can-Fax and was compiled and published by Denver’s Livestock Marketing Information Center.  However, only the data on total numbers on feed and placements in the previous month are released publicly.




The total number of cattle on feed in Canada was 1.010 million head, up 7,000, or 0.70%, from 1.003 million a month earlier.  It also was down 74,000, or 6.83%, from 1.084 million a year earlier but up 114,160, or 12.7%, from the 2015-2019 average of 895,840.

According to the 2015-2019 average, the number of cattle on feed Feb. 1 usually declines 31,770 head, or 3.42%, to 895,840 from 927,610 on Jan. 1.  Last year, the Feb. 1 total of 1.084 million was down from the Jan. 1 total of 1.116 million by 32,000, or 2.87%.

Still, the real changes in Canadian feedlot populations don’t start until May when they begin a long, predictable downtrend into the Sep. 1 count.

But if the on-feed trend follows the five-year average, it will rise into April 1.  Last year, though, the number declined from Jan. 1 into the Apr. 1 count, rose to May 1 and then fell away.




The reported number of cattle placed into feedlots in January was 135,795 head.  This was up 22,085, or 19.4%, from 113,710 in January of 2020 and up 45,263, or 50.0%, from the 2015-2019 average of 90,532.

January placements also were up 46,733, or 52.5%, from 89,062 in December.

According to the five-year average, placement numbers should rise through February and then fall away through June.  Beginning in August, placement numbers should rise sharply through October.

Last year, January placements were more than the 2015-2019 average with February near par.  March and April placements were fewer than the five-year average.  July was the only notable exception, with more placements than the average.  Otherwise, monthly placements were near the average.

Placements in Canada are much more attuned to climate conditions than in the US, particularly in the southern US.  The summer and winter seasons in Canada are sharply different, and pasture conditions very dependent on weather.  As pastures go dormant in late summer and through the fall, more cattle are placed into feedlots because there is no other place for them.

Placements fall off in November and December.




Fed cattle trading was reported in the Plains this week at $113 to $115 per cwt, steady to up $0.50 from last week.  Dressed-basis trading last week was at $180 per cwt, steady to up $2.

The USDA choice cutout Thursday was up $1.34 per cwt at $238.85, while select was up $1.83 at $227.47.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $11.38 from $11.87 with 79 loads of fabricated product and 17 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.

The USDA reported Wednesday that basis bids for corn from livestock feeding operations in the Southern Plains were unchanged at $1.00 to $1.25 a bushel over the Mar CBOT futures contract, which settled at $5.50 1/4 a bushel, down $0.02 3/4.

No new live cattle delivery intentions were posted Thursday.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Wednesday was $136.29 per cwt, up $0.58.  This compares with Thursday’s Mar contract settlement of $138.20 per cwt, down $0.22.