Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Plentiful feed supplies weigh on feed barley prices

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

CNS Canada — A steady stream of fusarium-damaged wheat is flooding Alberta feedlots these days, giving ranchers a variety of choices on what they can give to their animals — but also keeping feed barley prices in check.

“That has definitely been heavy on the barley,” said Allan Pirness of Marketplace Commodities in Lethbridge.

That pressure is reflected in how the price has narrowed between the two feeds. Barley used to be $20 per tonne more expensive than feed wheat, but that premium has narrowed down to about $10 per tonne.

“Feedlots are bidding about $165 (per tonne) on barley right now,” he explained. “On feed wheat it’s about $155 where we’re seeing stuff trade.”

U.S. feed imports don’t seem to be an issue right now, due to weakness in the Canadian dollar.

“With the Canadian dollar being so weak, DDGs (dried distillers’ grains) really aren’t a factor this year. It’s certainly not replacing any barley,” said Pirness.

Some DDGs may still be used to “stimulate intake” at certain feedlots, he said, but not at any higher levels than that.

Mild weather for much of November in southern Alberta enabled farmers to keep their animals on pasture. Now that the weather has started to turn, though, he expects more cattle to move to market.

For the time being, Pirness said, the buyer remains in the driver’s seat.

“It’s still a grind in the feed complex because there’s a lot of feed that is going to have to move and farmers are focused on moving their worst quality stuff,” he said. “It’s pretty heavy on the front end.”

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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