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‘Seasonally, cow prices typically strengthen in late winter, peaking in late spring, then decline before peaking a second time in late summer,’ says Jason Wood provincial livestock market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. ‘The average D2 cow price was just under $87 per cwt the last week of February, up over $11 per cwt since mid-February.’
Year-to-date, the western Canada cow market is averaging $77 per cwt, 11% below 2020 and the 3-year average.
The long-term seasonal price increase between January/February and May averages near 29%. In the last few years cattle markets have traded in tighter ranges, softening seasonal price movements.
‘For D2 cows, the seasonal price change in the last 10 years has averaged closer to 18% between the January/February low and the spring high. Based on historical price moves and assuming the market low has been put in, the D2 cow price for spring 2021 could be in the range of $88 per cwt to $96 per cwt,’ explains Wood.
Compared to the U.S. cow market, weekly Alberta D2 cow prices are once again trading at a premium to U.S. cows, says Wood.
Over the last month, Alberta cow prices have increased 17% compared to 12% in the U.S. For the last week of February the Alberta D2 cow price was $6 per cwt over the U.S. utility/commercial cow price.
Western Canada cattle slaughter was 2.4 million head in 2020, down 2.6% from 2019. Fed cattle slaughter was up 2% in 2020, while non-fed was down 24% compared to 2019. In the first half of 2020, total western Canada cattle slaughter was down 10% compared to 2019 following COVID-19 plant disruptions. In the second half of 2020, total western Canada cattle slaughter was 5% higher than the same period in 2019.
Year-to-date, western Canada cattle slaughter is just over 335,000 head, 9% above 2020 and 22% above the 5-year average. Nationally, cattle slaughter is just under 429,000 head in 2021, up 9% from 2020 and 18% higher than the 5-year average.
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