Klassen: Yearlings lead feeder complex higher

Compared to last week, yearlings traded $3 lower to as much as $8 higher. Lower supplies made the market hard to define in some regions but quality packages were very well bid. Heifers were somewhat softer but overall, the market continues to strengthen.

Larger operations in southern Alberta were once again leading the charge higher and the stronger buying interest appeared to gather a crowd. What does my neighbour know that I don’t? was common coffee shop chatter. Buyers who earlier were on the sidelines also became more aggressive as the week wore on. Yearlings weighing just over 800 lbs. are now touching the psychological $200 level, about $20 higher than month-ago levels. Ranchers with yearling ownership are content for the time being with the market rising each week. Pasture conditions are quite favourable across Western Canada.

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Larger-frame Simmental mixed steers weighing just over 900 lbs. were quoted at $179 landed in southern Alberta feedlot. In the Lethbridge area, black heifers averaging 885 lbs. sold for $170 while red mixed heifers weighing 950 lbs. sold for $164. Black mixed steers averaging 825 lbs. sold for $198 in central Alberta while larger-frame fleshier 820-lb. mixed steers were quoted at $190 in central Saskatchewan.

In the lighter weight categories, small packages were available which resulted in a variable price structure. Black mixed steers weighing just under 750 lbs. sold for $210 in central Alberta while mixed medium-frame steers averaging 710 lbs. sold for $203 north of Saskatoon.

In southern Alberta, steers weighing 500 to 525 lbs. were readily trading in the range of $235 to $240 while heifers in the same weight range were quoted from $209 to $215. Larger-frame Angus-based heifers averaging around 650 lbs. reached up to $198 in central Alberta. The recent rally in feeder cattle futures, along with lower feed grain prices, appears to be driving the feeder complex higher.

— Jerry Klassen manages the Canadian office of Swiss-based grain trader GAP SA Grains and Produits Ltd. and is president and founder of Resilient Capital, specializing in proprietary commodity futures trading and market analysis. Jerry consults with feedlots on risk management and writes a weekly cattle market commentary. He can be reached at 204-504-8339.

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