Beef Market Update: Combing through the data on cow herd contraction


Now is the time for the beef markets to take a bit of a breather, as the retail buying is done headed into the Labour Day long weekend, and we wait for things to really start to pick up after September for Q4.

Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange explains in this episode of the Beef Market Update that U.S. beef markets this week were mixed, with some weakness in the northern markets, and prices steady to lower. Choice cutout lost $4 this week.

The Canadian cattle inventory continues to decline, with beef cow numbers down 1.5 per cent and beef replacement heifers down 3 per cent — pointing towards ongoing liquidation of the national herd. When will the shrinking stop?

Wasko joins host Lyndsey Smith, and the duo cover what happened in the markets this week, and share some of the most recent data, below.

Don’t have time to listen to the full conversation? Check out the quick summary, following the player:



  • U.S. markets are a little bit mixed
  • Most of the trade is at $179 in the south
  • A little bit of weakness showing up in the north, 182-184 on the live
  • Now that most of that business is done in terms of buying for the long weekend for the retailers, the choice did lose about $4 this week at close
  • None of these things are suprises
  • Once we roll further into September, we’ll be looking for the markets to start to shine for Q4
  • Mid-year inventory report is out from StatsCan — so this is July 1 cattle inventory report
  • Liquidation in Canada continued through the first half of 2023, while drought is intensifying in Western Canada
  • Prices are good — this is the time when you want to have lots of calves to sell
  • The cattle business is more about long-term investment
  • There’s a lot of variability when it comes to moisture across the grasslands…but a lot is dry
  • If you are being forced to liquidate cattle, thank goodness we’ve got record prices
  • Definitely some questions surrounding what the next 5-10-15 years looks like for the cattle herd
  • In Western Canada, feedlots are pretty current
  • Western Canadian carcass weights are down but Ontario weights are creepier heavier

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Beef Market Update (view all)Season 15 (2023) Episode 9

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