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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

05 February 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Larger numbers

There were larger yardings at the SA LE and Naracoorte in their first sale for a fortnight. Mt. Gambier drew for some 3,600 head, however sanity prevailed and only 2,714 head were eventually offered.

The increase in numbers is probably due to some hot weather this week, feed reserves drying out and perhaps a little panic selling as prices seem to keep on retreating.

The SA LE’s yarding contained generally good quality runs of young and grown cattle that sold to a stronger trend after the battering prices took the previous week. Feeder and restocker orders from the Mid North were active and also paid dearer prices for well bred steers and heifers, and were at times outbidding the trade to secure these cattle.

However, Naracoorte’s and Mt. Gambier’s yardings witnessed quality dropping that allowed the usual SA, NSW and Victorian local and export buyers to lower their rates even further. Even feeder and restocker orders were mainly cheaper and allowed those buyers to source more heavy yearling steers, as well as some C2 grown steers. It has been commented that is of little wonder that many local cattle producers have been selling their vealers and yearlings in the recent weaner sales that have been some 10¢ to 40¢/kg dearer than what is currently being paid in the fat markets at present.

Millicent’s numbers fell, before the usual renowned bean finished cattle appear in increased numbers in the coming weeks.

Easing prices

The dearer trend at the SA LE was not enough to stop a generally easing trend on most categories. The better vealer steers to the trade sold from 160¢ to 190¢ at basically unchanged rates, with C muscled sales 6¢ to 10¢ cheaper selling from 145¢ to 175¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers from 148¢ to 166¢ on larger numbers. Vealer heifers struggled to sell above 160¢, with only lightweights attracting solid bidding up to 179¢ and most heifers selling at rates unchanged to 10¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steers were mainly 6¢ cheaper, with C3 sales to the trade 145¢ to 160¢/kg. Feeders and restockers paid mainly from 138¢ to 155¢, with lightweights at the SA LE up to 171¢/kg. Yearling heifers to a mixture of trade and feeder activity averaged 6¢ cheaper, with only isolated sales dearer that left C3 sales 140¢ to 152c¢, and the D3 heifers 116¢ to 138¢/kg.

Grown steer and bullock prices were basically unchanged, with C3 to C5 prices 136¢ to 156¢ or 250¢ to 280¢/kg cwt. Cow prices retreated by 1¢ to 10¢ as most 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 100¢ to 128¢, with carcase weight prices mainly 225¢ to 255¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Quality remains mixed

Numbers returned to more normal levels with all markets reported by MLA’s NLRS back in operation following the public holiday last Tuesday. Overall numbers jumped by more than double as all markets recorded increased yardings except for Tamworth. The markets that did not operate last Monday and Tuesday accounted for 48 per cent of this weeks throughput. When compared to this time last year supply is up by around 10 per cent. The failing season in the southern parts of the state with stock water becoming increasingly tight continues to force producers to offload and this was highlighted by Wagga recording its largest yarding in 12 months.

Mixed quality was again the norm across all markets. Well finished young and grown cattle were interspersed with plainer lines suited to feeders and restockers. Interestingly, there were even a few pens of over conditioned heavy cows penned.

Competition was provided by the usual panel of buyers while at Dubbo an extra feeder buyer was making their presence felt.

Young cattle sold to a varied but mostly cheaper trend while the medium and heavy yearlings to feed and slaughter were able to be firm to slightly cheaper. The fall to the young cattle was across the eastern states as the EYCI eased 3.75¢ on last Thursday to 320¢/kg cwt. Medium weight grown steers were 1¢ to 8¢ cheaper as the heavy weights and bullocks were up to 7¢/kg dearer. Grown heifers followed a similar trend to be dearer for most categories. Cows to slaughter were mostly firm to dearer, except for the lightweights. Restocker purchases of cows were also improved slightly.

Mixed prices

Most of the calves to restockers made from 185¢ to 207¢/kg. The light and medium weight vealer steers to the trade were 1¢ to 8¢ cheaper with most sales from 195¢ to 199¢/kg. Restockers paid to 211.2¢/kg on a couple of occasions. The light and medium weight vealer heifers suffered a similar fate to be up to 9¢ cheaper with most making around 189¢/kg. Very few yearling steers were secured by processors as the heavy C3s lifted 4¢ to average 167¢/kg. Most of the yearling steers purchased by feeders made in the 167¢ to 174¢ range as those returning to the paddock sold from 172¢ to 178¢ with lightweights topping at 209¢/kg. The light and medium weight feeder yearling heifers made from 159¢ to 164¢ to be up to 8¢/kg dearer. Good lightweights to slaughter lost 9¢ as medium weights improved 4¢ to 164¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders eased 2¢ to 167¢ as heavy weights to slaughter gained 2¢ to average 168¢/kg. Most of the bullocks made from 164¢ to 169c after topping at 180ckg. Light D2 cows to slaughter lost 6¢ to sell around 102¢ as large numbers of D3s lifted slightly to average 126¢/kg. The heavy D4s averaged 132¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle suammry

Supply up

Interesting prices from MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards realised some indicator grades dearer, and others cheaper. Considering the huge lift in supply with all markets operating, to largest witnessed for some time, having some price increases was a relief. A lot of comment given to the larger number of cattle sold related to a make up due to the public holiday. But also influencing the increase was the two weeks of very hot weather, which included drying winds. There is little green grass across the state, and producers are selling cattle before there is a downturn in condition.

As there was a slight decline in quality at some sales, along with greater supplies across the eastern states the EYCI was 3.75¢ lower at 320c¢/kg cwt. However, very strong demand for light weight calves, and some revitalised competition for top quality vealers, prices returned to some high levels. Feedlots, and at times restocker competition, assisted in setting some good prices. At times their purchases were up to 10¢/kg dearer.

There remains little joy for producers selling cattle for export sales, even though there has been a small fall in the value of the A$. Bullock prices averaged firm to 1¢/kg dearer, as the Japan ox indicator remained at 154.3¢/kg. A lot more cows were offered, as the public holiday took out a number of cow sales the previous week. Prices were unchanged to 5¢/kg cheaper with quality an issue. A significant portion of the dairy cows sold were in lean, and at times quite poor condition, and this affected price averages.

Good young cattle dearer

Top quality B muscle vealers have sold poorly until recently, and further rises were witnessed, although this was mostly in Gippsland sales. The vealers here are in excellent condition, and potentially offer buyers some very high meat yields. There was a return to prices over 200¢ with the best heavy vealers making to 204¢/kg. Also there was increased demand for lightweight vealers with sales to 210¢, and medium weights sold to 188¢/kg. Feedlots and restockers paid between 160¢ and 184¢/kg for European breed lots. Overall, good quality C muscle vealers made from 148¢ to 178¢/kg. Yearlings mostly sold to firm trends with most steers making from 140¢ to 168¢/kg. Similar heifers made between 130¢ to 162¢/kg.

Both the supply and quality of bullocks improved, which saw prime C muscle bullocks made from 145¢ to 164¢/kg. With quality deteriorating, the carcass weight price average for cows was 6¢/kg lower. Better quality beef cows made from 115¢ and 133¢/kg, while plainer 1 and 2 score cows made mostly between 75¢ and 115¢/kg. Bulls were also cheaper, as excellent quality A and B muscle bulls only made from 120¢ to 155¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Rain reduces numbers

Useful falls of rain across large areas of the state prevented the movement of stock, however did help to boost optimism in the market. The overall supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS remained virtually unchanged despite the return of a number of selling centres following the public holiday last week. Numbers at Dalby fell 57 per cent and widespread rain across the Maranoa region resulted in the cancellation of the Roma prime sale. Nevertheless at Warwick with some of the supply areas missing out on the rain resulted in numbers rising.

The early week markets experienced only a small reduction in supply due to the rain however with good rain falling during the sale values generally climbed and this trend continued as the week progressed. Export grades experienced the largest lift in prices with bullocks across all markets averaging 4¢ dearer and in some centres improvements of 10¢ to 12¢/kg were recorded. Cows shared in the rising trend with prices generally 4¢ to 5¢/kg dearer.

Values for young cattle generally hovered around recent week’s level with just a few categories improving. The rain encouraged a few more restocker buyers into the market and lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 8¢/kg dearer, and the heifer portion in the lightweight range to restocker's also experienced improved demand. The improved quality saw some classes of feeders lift in price nevertheless the remainder generally held firm. The heavy end of the yearling steers purchase by the trade averaged 6¢ dearer, and the heavy end of the yearling heifers to slaughter also improved 4¢/kg.

Export grades dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 181¢ and restocker grades reached 210.2¢ to average 190¢/kg. Vealer steers to restocker's averaged 197¢ and trade lines mostly sold close to 178¢ with a few to local butchers reaching 205¢/kg. Vealer heifers across all markets averaged 7¢ cheaper at 180¢, however top end quality lines still made around 200¢ with some to 210.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed remained firm at 186¢ with sales to 205.2¢, while those returning to the paddock improved 8¢ to 198¢, with some to 210¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight feeders averaged in the high 170¢/kg range, and heavy slaughter descriptions averaged 175¢ and sold to 191.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restocker's mostly sold around 177¢ and feeder descriptions 174¢/kg. Medium weight feeders experienced no change at 168¢ and heavy yearling heifers to the trade averaged close to 168¢ and sold to 184.2¢/kg.

Good heavy bullocks made to 190.6¢ to average 4¢ dearer at 179¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 117¢ and 3 scores improved 5¢ to average 130¢/kg. Good heavy cows averaged 5¢ dearer at 142¢ with a few pens reaching 153.6¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Long dry spell in the south

Rain continues to fall in the north of the state, while conditions in the southern corner remain fine and dry with only light rains recorded across the south coastal regions. For many areas in the far south of the Great Southern region feed and water supplies are both low with little or no rainfall having been received for several months. Consequently the usual annual growth of perennials normally witnessed at this time of year is yet to be seen and many paddocks are now bare.

Over the past week there was a drop off in the turnoff of vealers with the annual selling season no all but over with agents predicting that the next couple of weeks will see the majority already gone. Despite this there was a slight increase in the numbers penned at Mt Barker with Midland also recording a slight increase in its total supplies. The down turn in beef prices currently being experienced has seen an increase in the numbers of herds now being turned off as producers exist the industry.

Processors continue to report strong bookings with slaughter space remaining at a premium with little or no space available for this month. Imported cheaper product from the eastern states continues to turn up and this remains a headache for local producers and processors alike. Despite this trade demand has firmed slightly over the past couple of weeks across the majority of slaughter classes, despite the mixed quality of grass finished lines, while live export activity in the south remains buoyant.

Vealer season slows

With the end nearing for vealer selling quality and weight continued to dwindle. Feeder and restocker demand was more conservative and again included eastern states orders. Trade weight yearling quality remained mixed. Steer categories saw a limited and selective live export interest again recorded with rates remaining and relatively similar levels. Trade weight heifers on the other hand registered an increased local processor competition that saw a slight increase in values of up to 5¢/kg. Store yearling supplies remained in similar with little or no change realised in these rates due to a firm and similar demand from the live export, feeder and restocker sectors.

Heavy weight export steer and bullock sales both enjoyed an increase in processor demand and competition with values dearer by 4¢/kg lwt. This was also the case in heavy weight mature heifer sales, while the cow market again made marginal increases in values due to a lift in processor competition. Heavy weight bull rates in the Great Southern lifted due to an increase in processor competition and this again included one order from the eastern states, while lightweight and vealer bulls realised similar demand and pricing levels from the live export sector.

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