Ontario’s beef producer group has asked both beef and dairy producers to hold back cull cows in an attempt to ease the pinch on beef processing capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Processing backlogs have plagued the eastern Canadian beef sector for many months due to a lack of sufficient processing capacity and plant closures, says Beef Farmers of Ontario.

“Recent shut downs at processing plants in the United States due to COVID-19 outbreaks have put further pressure on the processing sector in eastern Canada. Supply surges, like the one we are seeing right now, put pressure on all segments of the industry, and threaten the health and welfare of animals,” BFO says in a release.

BFO is recommending that producers hold cull cows if possible, and especially those who are in poor health or condition, and to check with the cattle hauler and sale barn day before shipping to ensure you’re following the most recent auction and sale protocols.

Last week, markets in Ontario saw a sharp increase in cull cows; most of the cows were dairy breeds. Cull cow prices have dipped to the low ’60s per hundred weight, down from $81.82 two weeks ago, with dairy breeds averaging $54.46 cwt, a significant drop since early March.

Market information for the Ontario cattle market (including veal, beef calves, and culls) can be found here.

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