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CME: Canadian Feedlot Placements Above a Year Ago

21 April 2016

US - Last Friday, CanFax published their monthly Cattle on Feed report which includes the two major commercial feeding provinces (Alberta and Saskatchewan), write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Placements of animals into feedlots were above a year ago during March (up 4 per cent or just over 6,000 head compared to a year ago).

In Canadian feedlots, March was the fifth consecutive month of placements above a year earlier. As of April 1, 2016, the reported Canadian number of animals in commercial feedlots was up 7 per cent or over 62,000 head above 2015’s.

Still, the on-feed count was below 2014’s and the prior 5-year average (2010-2014) as is apparent in the first graphic.

Using weekly preliminary data reported by USDA agencies (see second graphic), US feeder cattle imports from Canada during March were below 2015’s by about 45 per cent (down over 7,000 head per week).

Year-to-date, US weekly average imports of Canadian calves and yearlings (feeder animals) have been down 61 per cent, according to the most recent data available (through early April).

That is an average drop of over 7,300 head every week from January to early April. Canada is probably doing a bit of herd re-building, which explains some of that decline. But, the cattle on feed data seem to indicate that Canadian cattle feeders have been rather aggressive buying feeder animals in that country.

Given that Country of Origin Labelling is no longer an influence on Canadian young animals being sold in the US and the low value of the Canadian versus the US dollar, all else equal economic logic suggests that more, not fewer feeder cattle should be flowing to the US. But, that has not been the situation.

Now, we turn to US imports of slaughter weight steers and heifers from Canada going to US slaughter plants. US imports of those animals have increased slightly year-over-year.

In March and year-to-date the increases were 5 per cent (about 350 head weekly) and 26 per cent (about 1,325 head weekly), respectively. So, slaughter steer and heifer imports are not up as much as feeder cattle imports have declined, at least so far this year.

That could change and will depend on how well Canadian beef packing plants are able to compete with US slaughter cattle buyers for cattle on-feed north of the 49th parallel.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weekly Crop Progress report showed US corn plantings kicked into high gear last week.

Nationally, for the week ending April 17th, corn seeding was reported by observers (County Extension staff and other local professionals) at 13 per cent done compared to 4 per cent the prior week and 8 per cent for the 5-year average (2011-2015).

Big jumps in corn plantings, both week-over-week and year-over-year, were posted in major producing states south of what is often termed the “Corn Belt”, including Missouri, Kansas, and Tennessee.

Note that rains in Texas essentially stalled all crop planting last week, including corn. More northern states will pick-up their pace of corn plantings as soil temperatures rise, which is required to assure timely seed germination.

Daily Livestock Report - Copyright © 2008 CME. All rights reserved.

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