Central Alberta livestock spring farm forecast

Central Alberta livestock spring farm forecast

Alberta spring beef market looks steady, producers faring well

By Emily Jaycox

For the Independent

After their March 12 sale, the Stettler Auction Mart is reporting a steady beef market with some gains.

Butcher cows were two to three cents more on average than the week before and bulls have had a five to 10 cent raise for the last two weeks.

Feeder cattle were steady with a slightly stronger grass market.

Good cow and calf pairs sold for between $2,000 and $2,300.

The big steers and heifer feeder cattle have dropped 20 per cent in the last six weeks, according to Jim Abel, general manager.

On March 5, 800 to 900 lb steers were selling for $160 to $175, and on March 12, they sold for $150 to $170.50.

In the new year, there was a push to fill up empty pen space and fat cattle were backed up for two or three weeks as a result.

With a large supply of fatter steers, prices were pushed down.

“The prices are always factored in by supply and demand,” said Abel.

There is typically a lag in March, as the yearlings of last summer are finished up and spring calving is hitting the fat market.

A large number of feeder holsteins were imported into Western Canada from the northern States last May and June, according to Abel.

Those surplus holsteins are suppressing Alberta’s fat markets, he says.

The light grass market is high and will stay high because of lower supply, says Abel.

Unless there is a dramatic change in the Canadian dollar or in supply, Abel expects prices to remain steady.

“We’re looking at a steady market for the remainder of the spring.”

The spring outlook for livestock producers is looking fair as well.

Ian Griebel of RedTail Farms, located three kilometres south of Castor, has a 130-head cow and calf operation, 60 to 70-head meat program and a 90-head pig operation.

It was a milder winter up until February, but the recent harsh weather was hard on the feed piles and the animals, and Griebel says he’s looking forward to green grass.

Griebel says he’s grateful for the March snowfall, which will help supply adequate dugouts for his cattle come the springtime.

“It’s been a blessing, I think.”

Grieber’s cows are grass-fed, and sold in the fall. He calves and heads out for grazing in mid-May.

There has been drought for the past two years, but so far things are looking good.

“We’re very optimistic this time of year.”

Grieber sells most of his product directly to his customers so isn’t as affected by the market.

“Hopefully it will be a wet year and a prosperous year.”