The number of cattle populating feedlots in Alberta and Saskatchewan moved slightly higher in October, fulfilling a seasonal tendency to bottom in September but falling short of the number on feed a year earlier.
The data came from CanFax, a private data and consulting firm in Canada, and was disseminated by the Livestock Marketing Information Center in Denver. CanFax does not release its detailed data to the public, keeping it for its members only. It does release the total cattle on feed at the end of each month along with the number that entered the feedlots.
CATTLE ON FEED
At the end of October, there were 724,155 head of cattle munching feedlot rations in Canada, up 9,411, or 1.32%, from what likely will prove to be the annual low of 714,744 at the end of September. October’s total was down 27,259, or 3.63%, from the year-earlier total of 751,414 head but up 55,602, or 8.32%, from the 2013-2017 average of 668,553.
Seasonal changes in weather patterns affect cattle production in Canada more than they do in the 48 contiguous states of the US. As such, annual lows and highs can be depended upon to occur in the same months each year. Year-to-year changes, however, can be observed.
The number of cattle on feed in Canada began to diverge from the five-year average in June of last year and have remained above the average line ever since. In fact, until October, a line graph of monthly cattle-on-feed numbers there paralleled the 2013-2017 average.
However, this year’s on-feed numbers began to close in on last year’s populations beginning in June. Since then, the lines have closed in and crossed sometime in October.
The strong seasonal influences in Canada almost dictate that the number of cattle on feed grew in November, but whether the number will stay above the five-year average would be a matter of conjecture.
DAYS ON FEED LIKELY DOWN
While CanFax doesn’t give out any other data than the on-feed total and the placement rate, some things may be deduced. One of those things the that the number of days on feed for animals going to the packing plants is declining, and has been since June.
That can be reasoned by knowing that the number of cattle on feed in Canada has been above the 2013-2017 average since June of 2018. However, the number of cattle entering the feedlots has remained consistently on par with the five-year average throughout the period.
The number of placements in September totaled 211,546 head, CanFax said. This was up 101,434, or 92.1%, from 110,112 in August but down 531, or 0.25%, from 212,077 in September of 2018 and down 7,353, or 3.36%, from the 2013-2017 average of 218,899.
Seasonal patterns would suggest even higher placements in October to the annual peak. And, if the rate remains close to last year and the average, it will range from 300,000 to 340,000.
CATTLE, BEEF RECAP
Cash cattle trading last week occurred at $117 to $120 per cwt on a live basis, up $2 to $3 from the previous week. Dressed-basis trade was reported at $187 per cwt, up $3 to $7.
The USDA choice cutout Friday was down $0.12 per cwt at $232.12, while select was down $0.30 at $210.34. The choice/select spread widened to $21.78 from $21.60 with 46 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Thursday was $145.11 per cwt, up $0.40 from the previous day. This compares with Friday’s Jan contract settlement of $142.27, down $1.05.