Strong cattle prices have some producers in the southeast feeling better about their future.
"We've had a strong market all through 2017," explained Brian Perillat, the Manager and Senior Analyst at Canfax with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. "And into 2018, the markets have been quite strong. I'm not sure they are going to continue to go up per se, but overall, market prices have been pretty darn good, better than expected that's for sure."
"If you're looking at the price of calves right now, we're seeing 500-600 lbs calves selling from $2.20/lbs - $2.40/lbs, $2.50/lbs in some of the really highest spots. Those are historically very strong prices. Usually, once you're over $2, those are pretty decent prices. Expectations kind of got blown out of the water when we go back two to three years ago when calf prices were over $3/lbs. We've certainly come down from those highs."
After a disappointing hay, crop this past summer, the strong prices offer some help.
"It certainly helps offset it. Southern parts of the prairies have suffered some dry areas. Anytime you have better prices, that helps offset some of the costs. Some producers maybe cut back a little on their cattle numbers just to manage feed supply, but at these prices, most people are profitable and can continue to buy the feed they need."
"It has been a colder winter than the last few and feedstocks, even in areas where guys thought they had enough, are maybe running a little bit tighter because they're going to need to go through more feed in the colder weather. There's always a little bit of a challenge in the colder weather when people have to check the cattle a little bit more often."
However, he does see some optimism in the Estevan and surrounding areas.
"In the southeast, and parts of Manitoba, there's really good demand for cattle because some of that cattle can come to Alberta into the feedlots, some of them go to Ontario, some can go to the US. Sometimes that one of the stronger markets in Western Canada."
"We're seeing feed costs, whether it's hay, barley, seed grain costs have gone up quite a lot in Western Canada. The Canadian herd hasn't really expanded but with the right weather maybe we can get a little bit of slow expansion. That's where the optimism comes in but it's still pretty cautious."