True to form, Canada’s cattle feedlot population rose in October to a Nov. 1 total of 940,248 head, according to data from CanFax that was compiled and published by the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver.
CanFax, a private market advisory firm, collects the data from Alberta and Saskatchewan feedlots for its monthly report. Most of the results are sent only to CanFax members, but the advisory group shares the total number and placement data with the LMIC.
ON-FEED NUMBER ABOVE AVERAGE
The number of cattle on feed, at 940,248 head was up from the Oct. 1 number of 792,358, but 2,002, or 0.21%, below the Nov. 1, 2019, total of 942,250. However, it was up 100,144, or 11.9%, from the 2014-2018 average of 840,104 head.
The number of cattle in Canada’s feedlots almost has to grow in the fall as cold temperatures and even snow take over the pastures. Accordingly, there is a very strong seasonality to Canada’s on-feed numbers.
However, the number of cattle that Canadian feedlots are holding has been more than last year and the previous five-year average all year. In fact, monthly feedlot populations this year have averaged 967,657 head, up 55,684, or 6.11%, from last year’s 911,973 and up 145,680, or 17.7%, from the 2014-2018 average of 821,977.
Canada’s on-feed population grows seasonally to its annual high for the Dec. 1 survey as pastures give out completely and cold weather slows growth rates for those already there.
OCTOBER PLACEMENTS ABOVE AVERAGE, BELOW 2019
Despite Canada’s growing on-feed number, the number of placements in October were not uncharacteristically large. At 350,278 head, they were 72,499, or 17.1%, fewer than last year’s 422,777 but 33,436, or 10.6%, more than the previous five-year average of 316,842.
So far this year, monthly placements have averaged 138,696 head, down 15,385, or 9.99%, from last year’s 154,081 but up 326, or 0.24%, from the 2014-2018 average of 138,370.
October placements usually are the high point of the year, because by this time, most pastures have given out seasonally, and feeding hay becomes burdensome.
November and December placements typically drop precipitously.
The combination of relatively steady seasonal feedlot placement rates combined with data showing larger numbers on feed, leads many to think cattle are spending more time on feed than has been common in the past. One market analyst said cattle feeders there may be pushing cattle to their ultimate genetic grading potential since many are slaughtered in the US where choice and prime beef have caught the fancy of a growing number of consumers.
If seasonalities hold, January placements may be similar to December’s.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Fed cattle trading this week was seen at $109 to $110 per cwt on a live basis, steady to down $1 from last week. Dressed-basis trading was done last week at $172, up $5 to $12.
The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was up $6.77 per cwt at $233.72, while select was up $1.61 at $213.96. The choice/select spread widened to $19.76 from $14.60 with 96 loads of fabricated product and 46 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.
The USDA reported Tuesday that basis bids for corn from livestock feeding operations in the Southern Plains were unchanged at $1.10 to $1.15 per bushel over the Dec CBOT futures contract, which settled at $4.20 1/4 a bushel, up $0.04.
The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $137.55 per cwt, down $0.13. This compares with Tuesday’s Nov contract settlement of $137.37 per cwt, up $0.10.