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Auction Marts Experiencing Drop In Cattle Numbers

The cattle markets have taken a hit as of late due to a number of factors.

Rick Wright is the administrator for the Manitoba Livestock Marketing Association.

"We saw a correction in the cattle markets, party due to COVID-19, and of course travel restrictions, restaurants being closed, beef retail sales," he said. "That combined with a major downward shift in oil prices have raised havoc with the cattle markets. We've lost probably 20 cents a pound in the last 15 days, possibly more on some classes of cattle and the uncertainty within the industry has made it very difficult to market cattle."

Wright notes bull sales have remained steady.

"So far the bull sales have been pretty good, because it's long term. If you've got cows, you need bulls and we're all hoping that this doesn't last for very long. Guys are moving forward. One of the challenges within the industry is the new regulations that are restricting 50 people to a sale...we're seeing some onus being put on the markets to start to abide by that. If you're going to a bull sale I would certainly do a little bit of due diligence before you go."

Wright says there's been a big drop in the number of cattle at auction marts.

"We are on a seasonal drop as it is. Virden has 650 this week, they would normally have 1,500 this week. Killarney was 185 cattle this week, they would normally be 500 to 600 cattle. The market is really volatile right now and producers, a lot of them have kept their calves over, are not very impressed with the prices. They're hanging on trying to wait this out. We've seen a sharp reduction in numbers and probably will do for the next couple of weeks."

Wright notes there's a reluctance to sell and certainly an uncertainty about buying cattle at this particular time.

The Manitoba Livestock Marketing Association is a group of over 30 auction market operators, livestock order buyers and cattle feeders that market livestock on behalf of their customers or themselves. The organization has been in existence for over 35 years.


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