The number of cattle on feed in Canadian feedlots is following traditional patterns but at a consistently higher level, according to CanFax, a Canadian market advisory company.
CanFax only gathers data from the main cattle-feeding provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and disseminates it to its members. The Denver-based Livestock Marketing Information Center compiles the numbers on feed and the numbers placed on feed on a monthly basis and publishes the results on its Web site.
The number of cattle in Canadian feedlots on March 1 was 984,145 head, up 4,476, or 0.46%, from Feb. 1’s 979,669. The March 1 inventory also was 87,472, or 9.76%, above the year-earlier population of 896,673 head and 76,855, or 8.47%, above the 2013-2017 average of 907,290 head.
The number of cattle populating Canadian feedlots through March 1 this year consistently have run about 8.60% above the 2013-2017 average. This aligns closely with the 2018 numbers as well and continues a pattern of having more than the average number of cattle on feed that began on June 1 of last year.
If those percentages hold, the number of cattle on feed in Canada as of April 1 should be around 1.004 million, versus last year’s 939,623 and the previous five-year average of 924,290.
Past April, there is an almost insurmountable seasonal tendency for the number of cattle on feed in Canada to fall into a bottom on Sep. 1.
PLACEMENTS SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE, 2018
The number of calves placed into Canadian feedlots during February was near the 2013-2017 average and during February 2018, the CanFax numbers said. The increase in the number of cattle on feed combined with no perceivable increase in placements indicates feedlots there are keeping them on feed a bit longer, possibly to lay in a little more fat and marbling before going to slaughter.
CanFax said 122,959 young cattle entered Canadian feedlots in February, up 15,673, or 14.6%, from January’s 107,286. February placements also were down 9,980, or 7.51%, from 132,939 in February a year earlier and 16,247, or 11.7%, below the previous five-year average of 139,206.
March placements last year spiked above the 2013-2017 average by 40,129 head, or 23.9%. They could do the same this year, but harsh winter weather may delay some March placements, an analyst said.
However, Canadian winters are notoriously harsh, and one year may not be much worse on the cattle herds than another.
If placements follow the seasonal pattern, and there is little reason to think the trend won’t be close, March placements will be the secondary high for the year. The low point likely will be the June placements.
The high placement month of the year will be October when calves are pulled from all pastures. At that point, there is little more that can be done with them other than to send them to a feedlot.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle trade was reported this week at $126 to $128 per cwt on a live basis, steady with the bulk of last week’s action, and at $203 to $205 on a dressed basis, steady to up $1 from most of last week’s trade.
The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was up $1.00 per cwt at $229.33, while select was up $1.25 at $219.46. The choice/select spread narrowed to $9.87 from $10.12 with 91 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday, was $137.67 per cwt, up $0.17. This compares with Tuesday’s Mar contract settlement of $142.25, up $0.60.