Dry conditions across the province may be having an impact on the sale of cows, but it’s hard to define any pattern due to the variability of moisture, say auction mart operators across the province.
Garth Rogers, one of the managers at the Nilsson Brothers auction mart in Clyde, said that his auction mart has not been having any trouble moving cows. “We always have homes for cattle. We’re in the business of marketing livestock,” he said.
The Clyde location is currently running about 300 to 500 cows a week, and prices are steady to stronger. Rogers has seen a slight increase in the number of slaughter cows coming through, but not a substantial amount. The Clyde auction market usually sells about 2,000 cattle each week in the summer.
By contrast, Greg Hayden, co-owner of the Stettler auction mart, has seen a large increase in the number of slaughter cows this summer. The Stettler auction mart is seeing double to triple the number of cows this year. The mart is currently processing about 300 to 400 slaughter cows and about 200 cow-calf pairs a week.
The pairs are not being separated in the Stettler area, said Hayden. “There are enough areas with moisture, so there are still homes for pairs.” The Stettler area received rain earlier this month, which he says changed the mood for producers in the region,” Hayden said. “I expect the run of cow-calf pairs will come to an end.”
He said slaughter cows are priced at about 50 cents a pound, while cow-calf pairs range from $700 to $1,300 in Stettler.
The Olds auction mart is seeing a few more cows, as well as some cow-calf pairs from some of the drier areas, said Greg Sanderson, one of the owners of the Olds auction mart. The Olds area has been drier than usual, but is not in dire straits, Sanderson said in mid-July. Most of the cows are going for about 40 to 50 cents a pound, he said. “We’re not selling a lot more than usual, but if you go about 100 miles east of us, they’re selling a lot of cattle that they just don’t have grass for.”
Jack Daines, the owner of the Innisfail Auction Market, said the recent four inches of rain have made a big difference in his area. There are patches of dry areas from Red Deer to Calgary, but conditions vary from field to field, he said.
“The hay crop isn’t what it used to be, but every field is different,” Daines said. “It’s not just a straight, dried out deal.”
Sales at the Innisfail auction market are still steady for both cow-calf pairs and slaughter cows.
Ian Goodbrand, one of the owners of the Dryland Cattle Trading Corporation in Veteran, has said that the numbers of cow-calf pairs and cull cows have increased slightly. Rainfall had helped the dry conditions in the previous two to three weeks, said Goodbrand.
“Prices are good and there’s lots of demand for more pairs. We’ve had no problem with the demand for cows,” he said.