Cattlemen have seen a strong recovery in the first quarter of 2022 in the slaughter cow price.

Anne Wasko, a Market Analyst with Gateway Livestock, says the first-quarter average was in the mid-80s, while in April we saw D2 cows trading in the high 90s, and up over $1 as well.

"That's been a big move since the start of the year, where they were 75 cents in early January. So big move on slaughter cow prices."

She says that the increase in the cow market is a result of the high demand for ground beef or lean trimmings not just here in Canada, but in the U.S. and globally.

Data shows that the fat cattle market has been fairly stagnant for the first quarter of 2022.

She says finish cattle have been in a negative position through the first quarter of this year, which is mainly due to the cost of feed.

"Feed costs are record high. Whether you're a cow-calf producer, or whether you're a backgrounder. You know, trying to hold some calves over to winter, or you're looking at a cattle finishing operation. In all cases, we're looking at record-high feed costs."

The increase in feed costs has been another challenge for livestock producers, as dry conditions put extra pressure on producers dealing with reduced pasture and hay yields.

Wasko says producers are hoping we see the moisture that's needed to help perk up pastures and fill dugouts.

"And we need it in a pretty big area. So, the challenges of 2021 I wish we could say are behind us. From where I sit today, they're still very much on the forefront of everyone's minds in terms of how the rest of this year until we get further on into the spring. How the rest of the year looks in terms of these growing conditions for 2022."

She notes with the high feed costs we've seen lots of feeder cattle exports and watched as the Canadian cow herd gets smaller.