Feed weekly outlook: Slaughterhouse closures lead to adjustments

MarketsFarm — The closure of one of Canada’s largest beef slaughterhouses will lead to adjustments in the cattle feeding sector, as animals will be fed longer but on different rations.

Cargill’s meat processing plant at High River, Alta. slaughters roughly 40 per cent of all the cattle butchered in Canada.

The plant is to be idled indefinitely after more than 350 people connected to the facility, either as employees or family, were confirmed as contacting COVID-19. At least one person has died.

The High River closure will impact the way cattle are fed as long as the facility remains closed, said Brandon Motz, of CorNine Commodities at Lacombe, Alta.

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“It will back them up in the feedlot, which will force the feedlots to change their ration,” he said. Rather than feeding a high-calorie ration to fatten the animals, the focus will be on more roughage and a maintenance, slow-growth diet.

“Overall, those cattle will still take ‘x’ amount of grain to fatten,” which could result in increased demand in the long run as the cattle remain on feed for longer, Motz said.

However, he added, any seasonal price strength is unlikely, as demand will be pushed farther back.

“We haven’t seen a drastic change in pricing, but I think it’s coming,” Motz said. He expected continued uncertainty in the cattle market would cause many feeders to move to a hand-to-mouth program rather than buying farther out.

“It’s just an extremely uncertain time, and prices will be changing rapidly.”

— Phil Franz-Warkentin reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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