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Cattle prices should be similar to last year: report

Cattle producers should experience prices similar to those of 2023, according to a Farm Credit Canada outlook.

“With cattle prices largely stable year over year, margins in the cow/calf sector are expected to still be well above the five-year average,” says the FCC.

Profitability this year will be assisted by abating feed costs but feedlot profitability may be challenged in 2024. Hay prices are staying high.

Hay prices in Southern Alberta, affected by drought, are double what they were in 2020.

Cattle prices will still be above the five year average.

Using Alberta prices the report estimates fed steer prices at $2.25 a pound, same as last year but 60 cents higher than the five year average

Steers in the 500 pound class will run at $3.50 a pound, up 20 cents and 90 cents above the average

Steers in the 850 pound class will be priced at $2.95 a pound, up 20 cents but 90 cents above average.

Manitoba market hogs will sell  for $2.25 a kilo, same as in 2023 and 15 cents above average.

Producers should monitor three trends — feed availability, global and local pork demand and the price to maintain cattle herd numbers, the report said.

Barley prices have fallen but are still six per cent above the five-year average. Drought still pressures hay and barley prices.

Chinese demand for pork has fallen with the economy in trouble and with a smaller population.

While cow/calf price margins are high the cost of retaining heifers has grown to $300 a  head from about $125 some 20 years ago.

Growing the cattle herd may be worthwhile but the report notes that North American beef consumption has dropped over higher prices and will drop further if prices keep increasing.

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