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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

18 September 2009
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.

Victorian cattle summary

Mixed demand
Confidence appears to be waning after some poor results at all of MLA’s NLRS reported markets. Five markets reported larger yardings, as the other four tendered a smaller supply, which overall led to a small increase in cattle offered.

Effecting prices were the number of individual cattle in a particular category, the weight of the cattle, and obviously quality. One trend that definitely showed up in all sales was a preference for light young cattle under 400kg lwt. Demand was strong for any cattle in good condition and having a reasonable dressing percentage. Where some lower price trends occurred was for the plain quality cattle and any cattle over 400kg lwt. Markets were quoted 2¢ to 12¢/kg cheaper for these heavy cattle. The EYCI was not able to maintain its recent level to be 6¢ cheaper than last Thursday at 320¢/kg cwt.

One feature of the competition was increased demand from restockers, as there have been some very dear store cattle sales of late. They have successfully purchased cattle at rates cheaper than prime sales, but they also put a floor in some prime cattle markets.

Export processors continue to be disgruntled with the exchange rate, and subsequent slow sales to major overseas customers. With the A$ climbing over 87¢/US, exporters were hoping for further price reductions. Prices for grown steers, bullocks, cows and bulls all sold to a cheaper trend to some degree with individual market trends cheaper than others. This was more noticeable in cow sales but was evident across all export categories.

Cheaper prices
Prices varied a lot over for young cattle with light weight vealers and yearlings of good quality selling at firm to slightly cheaper rates. Heifers have been more affected averaging 6¢ to 16¢ lower, while steers were mostly 3¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper. The best quality supplementary fed B muscle yearlings made from 220¢ to 235¢/kg. Good quality C muscle cattle made from 175¢ to 215¢/kg, although that is where most of the good prices finished. Young cattle over 400kg made from 145¢ to 185¢, but averaged 165¢/kg. Prices for the plainer cattle purchased to feed-on made between 142¢ and 185¢/kg. This was slightly cheaper, but other plain condition cattle only made from 100¢ to 155¢/kg.

Grown steers suffered from a lack of demand and prices slipped another 3¢ to 10¢/kg. Prime bullocks made from 148¢ to 178¢ with isolated sales of young grown steers to 185¢/kg. While some cows markets were quoted unchanged, most were up to 12¢/kg cheaper. The better quality cows made from 118¢ to 150¢ to average 129¢/kg. Plain 1 score cows were in the largest numbers and made from 85¢ to 125¢/kg. Carcass weight price across the state averaged close to 255¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Increased numbers
There was only a very slight lift to supply at the SA LE, which consisted mainly of pastoral cattle showing the signs of a tough year, and only small numbers of supplementary fed yearlings. While most buyers were present and operating, one main buyer in recent weeks was absent and allowed the others to lower their rates, with only a few prime quality yearlings bucking that trend.

Local butchers and wholesalers sourced the few vealers offered, with an exceptional heifer selling at 224¢kg. Most yearlings to a mixture of orders were cheaper, with only some feeder prices dearer for lightweights. Many of the pastoral cattle were categorised as manufacturing beef and sold at much lower rates. Cow prices generally eased and included some pastoral bred 1 and 2 scores.

Naracoorte’s increased yarding was quite varied and included 105 plain quality cows and 162 vealers from the White Cliffs region that sold mainly to strong restocker activity at rates generally dearer, while prices tended to retreat on other categories. This was mainly due to not all of the regular buyers operating at maximum levels, and feeder and restocker orders reining in their prices.

Mt. Gambier also sold to a much weaker trend, with only a few supplementary fed medium weight yearling heifers being dearer. Many producers were taken back as grown steer prices fell back below 175¢, with some sales 20¢/kg cheaper and representing a fall of around $150/head on the previous week.

Most categories cheaper
Apart from isolated sales, there was a large downward price correction on most categories. Vealer steers to the trade and local butchers sold from 178¢ to 222¢, with isolated sales 10¢ dearer, and others 3¢ to 22¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders paid from 146¢ to 182¢ also at lower levels. Vealer heifers to the trade generally sold from 155¢ to 200¢, with isolated sales reaching 228¢/kg at dearer levels, while being around 20¢/kg cheaper on others. Feeder and restocker orders paid between 80¢ and 190¢ over a wide range of quality. Yearling steers sold from 150¢ to 190¢, with C3 sales 5¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers secured most C2 steers from 145.5¢ to 203¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales came of the boil, with C3 and C4 sales 145¢ to 180¢, or 10¢ to 19¢/kg less.

Grown steer prices fell by around 15¢ as most C3 and C4 sales ranged between 155¢ and 180¢/kg. This left most carcase weights in a 290¢ to 325¢/kg price range. Cows attracted a mixture of orders, with restockers paying from 100¢ to 135¢ and processors sourcing 3 to 4 score beef cows between 115¢ and 140¢, and mainly from 240¢ to 280¢/kg cwt.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Pastoral supplies dominate
The traditional cattle areas of the southwest recorded further solid rainfall as several fronts again crossed the coast. Feed supplies in many of these areas are still relatively short and some supplementary feeding continues. Growth rates on the other hand are on the increase and this will increase solidly from now on in as temperatures rise and further sunshine is received. The north of the state remained predominately fine and dry and good supplies continue to flow from these regions.

The numbers of locally bred cattle currently remain very low and quality in physical markets continues to be extremely mixed with store grades the dominant category penned, irrespective of the draw area.

Midland was by far the largest physical market with other sales remaining very small. Midland’s yarding was dominated by pastoral cattle, which were generally made up of lightweight heifers and cow grades. The numbers of heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifers were all very low with trade weight yearling supplies also continuing to be sold in relatively limited volume. Cow numbers remained fair with good supplies of pastoral drafts included, while locally bred drafts were also reasonable. Trade demand on all grades remained buoyant with a good competition realised from both local and export processors.

As feed growth continues to increase in the southwest and is driving solid restocker demand, while feeder interest has also been maintained. Live export demand was again generally conservative.

Cow values again lower
Lightweights continue to account for the vast majority of vealer sales and the recent strong numbers again impacted both processor and retailer demand with both conservative. The extremely limited supplies of medium and heavy weight vealers enjoyed continued strong demand from local retailers, while plainer condition drafts recorded solid feeder and restocker demand. The small numbers of trade weight yearling steers and heifers, either grass or certified grain fed were again buoyed by very solid local processor demand that resulted in firm values recorded irrespective of weight or sex. Locally bred store steers and heifers were well supported by south western restockers and the market again recorded slight by distinctive rate rises.

Heavy weight grown steers and bullock realised firm rates on the very small numbers that were available at any of the yards. This was also the case in heifer sales, while the cow market was again recorded at lower levels. This could be due to an increase in the A$ coupled with improved recent supplies as the market fell a further 8¢ to 10¢/kg lwt. This was also the case in heavy weight bull classes, which fell by a similar amount.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply on the rise
Cattle supply across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards jumped 42per cent, following last weeks smaller yardings. The majority of markets recorded greater numbers, with cattle availability at CTLX and Gunnedah more than doubling, along with significant increases at Inverell and Dubbo. Scattered showers throughout the state last week saw reduced numbers at markets; however the large increase in supply comes with the return of the hot dry weather over the weekend and the beginning of this week.

Quality across the yards remains mixed, with the condition of cattle ranging from plain to very good. There were a number of quality pens coming off crops or supplementary feed throughout the sales.

Young cattle continue to be in the largest numbers however there was an increased yarding of grown steers and cows. The supply of vealers increased 22per cent overall with feeders capturing the majority of the increase. Yearling steer supply was up 32per cent while yearling heifers increased 62per cent from last week. Feeders and processors benefited from the higher number of yearlings, with restockers losing numbers.

Grown heifer numbers held relatively stable while grown steers increased 42per cent, with feeders and processors once again benefiting. Cow numbers increased 48per cent, with processors capturing the majority.

Demand remained firm throughout the markets despite increased numbers. All the regular buyers were present and operating with strong competition from feedlots and there were extra buyers active at Forbes. Cattle going direct to slaughter and feed held unchanged to cheaper due to the overall lift in supply coinciding with a lack of overseas demand and high AU$.

Prices slip
Medium weight C2 vealer steer slipped 1¢ to average 182¢ while those retuning to the paddock held firm at 176¢ with sales to 199¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers sold to a top of 196¢ to average 1¢ dearer while the heavyweight 3 scores to slaughter mostly sold around 182¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers eased 4¢ in value to finish at 176¢ while the medium weights to feeders made from 145¢ to 198¢/kg. Heavyweight C3 steers to slaughter averaged 174¢ with sales to 196¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling heifers to feeders made from 142¢ to 180¢ while the medium weight C3’s to processors sold around 163¢ with sales to 198¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers made from 145¢ to 178¢ while the heavyweights averaged close to 170¢ with sales to 180¢/kg. The good run of 4 scores bullocks mostly sold around 173¢ to top at 185¢/kg. Medium weight C3 grown heifers to slaughter held firm at 154¢/kg.

Medium weight D2 cows eased 4¢ in value to 112¢ while the 3 scores sold from 110¢ to 134¢/kg. A good supply of heavyweight 4 scores averaged 3¢ cheaper at 131¢ with sales to 143¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Supply up
The increased values experienced last week and a returned to fine, dry weather encouraged producers to offload a much larger number of stock. Numbers at markets early in the week remained unchanged however as the week progressed and most descriptions received some price the overall supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS lifted by over 60per cent.

The overall high standard of stock was the talking point at most selling centres with Dalby yarding an excellent quality line-up with abundance of good quality export cattle penned. Buyer attendance was good and stronger competition from southern operators lifted values on slaughter grades of calves and vealers with average prices increasing by 8¢ to 11¢/kg. Butchers and wholesalers also lifted values of yearling heifers across the state by 1¢ to 3¢, with the large supply at midweek markets climbing in price by 7¢ to 8¢/kg, however half of this improvement could be attributed to the better quality penned. Restocker's competed against feeder operators on lightweight yearling steers and values lifted accordingly, while medium and heavyweight feeders generally sold to a firm market.

The re-entry into the export market by a couple of processors helped to stabilise values for heavy steers and bullocks. Despite the good supply a combination of the extra competition and the excellent quality penned values were able to lift by a further 3¢/kg.

Restockers were very active on a few small samples of plain condition cows and values improved for some PTIC categories. The relatively good supply of cows to processors generally experienced a very solid market following the lift in prices last week.

Most classes dearer
Calves to the trade averaged 11¢ dearer at 181¢ with sales to 196.2¢/kg. Vealer steers also to the trade improved 7¢ with most sales around 179¢ while those returning to the paddock averaged 188¢ and sold to 198¢/kg. A large supply of vealer heifers to the trade averaged 8¢ better at 175¢ with a few sales to 193.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 185¢ and sold to 197.2¢, while medium and heavyweights to feed generally sold close to 177¢/kg. Heavy grades to slaughter averaged 3¢ dearer at 174¢ a handful of certified grainfeds made to 198.2¢/kg. The large supply of yearling heifers mostly sold to butchers or wholesalers in the 160¢/kg range with a few sales to 191.2¢/kg.

A small selection of medium weight grown steers to feed made to 179.2¢ to average 173¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 3¢ dearer at 174¢, while the bullock portion improved a similar amount with the good supply averaging close to 176¢/kg. Plain condition cows returning to the paddock averaged 115¢ with some to 126.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 115¢ and 3 scores 125¢/kg. Good heavy cows mostly sold around 134¢ with the occasional sale to 146.6¢/kg.

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