Canadian Cattle On Feed Rising

Canadian feed yards started the new year with more cattle on hand than last year and the 2013-2017 average, yet placements of younger calves into these feedlots in December was very near average and last year.

The data does not come from Stats Canada but from the private cattle analysis company CanFax and includes feedlots in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The tata showed that feed yards in the two principle cattle-feeding provinces on Jan. 1 totaled 1.009 million head, up 81,273, or 8.76%, from 927,727 on the same date in 2018.  The 2019 total also was 77,964 head, or 8.37%, above the previous five-year average of 931,036 head.




December placements of younger cattle into the feed yards to grow and fatten, however, remained near December 2017 and the previous five-year average.

Placements of feeder cattle into the Alberta and Saskatchewan feed yards in December totaled 84,904 head, Canfax said.  This was up 9,327, or 12.3%, from the December 2017 total of 75,577 but down 4,661, or 5.20%, from the 2012-2016 average of 89,565.

Canada’s feedlot placements last year trended closely with the 2017 and five-year averages.  The notable differences came in March, the summer months and in October.




Canfax only publishes breakdown data such as placement weights to is members, but in general, most of the extra cattle seen on feed Jan. 1 would have entered the feedlots anywhere from August through December.

Feedlot populations in Canada have a very solid seasonal factor given the extreme nature of the climate there.  The same does not hold as true for US feedlots, particularly those in more southern states where the climate is much more variable and much warmer on average.

It would be tempting to say that most of the extra cattle on feed in Canada on Jan. 1 were placed in October, but the on-feed data do not show this to be the case.

A look at the monthly on-feed data over last year shows a divergence above the five-year average beginning about June.  In general, the number of cattle on feed remained above average for the rest of the year.

If Canadian feedlots hold true to what they began last year, populations of cattle on feed will remain relatively stable Through April.  Thereupon, the numbers will start an annual decline that bottoms in September.

That bottom will coincide with available grazing land just as it does in the US.  In Canada, though, the seasonal trend is more marked and stable.

One other noticeable trend has been the tendency for fall feedlot placements to exceed the previous January-through-April trend.  If this keeps up, the January 2020 on-feed total could exceed this year’s.




Cash cattle traded last week at mostly $125 up to $125 per cwt on a live basis, up $1, and at $196 to $197 on a dressed basis, also up $1 from the previous week.

The USDA choice cutout Friday was up $0.65 per cwt at $213.15, while select was up $1.81 at $209.45.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $3.70 from $4.86 with 50 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Thursday, was $142.05 per cwt, down $1.04.  This compares with Friday’s Jan settlement of $141.45, up $0.02.