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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

19 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.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Strong demand less supply

Significant rain at the end of last week and over the weekend resulted in throughput falling 18 per cent on last week at markets covered by MLA’s NLRS, however this was 43 per cent up on the same period last year. The largest falls were recorded at Forbes where numbers fell 76 per cent and Wagga which was down 52 per cent.

With prospects looking up, many producers have opted to hold onto young cattle as feed and water conditions improve. Although the number of vealers yarded is up, supply of yearling steers has fallen 20 per cent on the same time last week. The market has been fuelled by increased competition from lotfeeders and restockers along with the panel usual buyers, although at Gunnedah a couple of lotfeeders were not active.

Quality offered across the state remains mixed with some plainer yardings suitable for restockers offered. Many of the markets were dominated by young cattle with percentages of good quality yearlings offered.

Young cattle sold to dearer trends with medium weight yearling steers to back to the paddock averaging 185¢, up 7¢/kg on last week. Lightweight vealer heifers to the trade averaged 193¢ to be down 2¢/kg. All markets across the eastern states realised dearer trends is highlighted by the dearer EYCI which finished Thursday at 336¢, up 11¢/kg lwt on last week.

Grown steers yardings were up slightly and prices remained firm to 1¢/kg higher. Feeders paid between 145¢ and 187¢ for medium weight C2 steers to average 166¢/kg. Heavyweight D3 cows to processors were up 3¢ to average 135¢/kg.

Prices keep on rising

Calves selling to processors were 1¢ cheaper to average 195¢/kg. Restockers paid between 3¢ and 10¢ more for lightweight vealer steers as the medium weights averaged 198¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers to the trade sold from 160¢ to 196¢ to be 2¢/kg stronger. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers and feeders were 6¢ to 8¢ dearer to average 188¢/kg. Lotfeeders dominated the market for heavyweight yearling steers making between 158¢ and 189¢/kg. Medium weight C3 heifers to slaughter averaged 167¢ to be up 5¢, those going to feeders were 7¢ stronger at around 174¢/kg.

Grown steer prices remained firm to slightly dearer. Medium weight 2 and 3 score steers to feeders averaged 168¢ to be 1¢/kg stronger. Heavyweights followed a similar trend to sell between 148¢ and 188¢/kg. Cows also followed the dearer trend across all categories to be 2¢ to 12¢/kg higher. Medium weight D3 cows sold between 113¢ and 145¢, heavyweight D4’s were up 4¢ to average 137¢/kg.

OTH rates remained generally unchanged with a number of processors lifting rates after a slight improvement in export enquiry and the A$. Young cattle were firm to 4c/kg dearer, while the grown steers and cows received greater gains.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Reduced numbers

The return of wet weather conditions across some of the supply areas resulted in numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS reducing close to 20 per cent. Persistent rain across the Maranoa region continues to prevent the movement of many cattle and once again the Roma prime sale was postponed due to the wet weather. Some useful falls of rain around Warwick only reduced numbers by a few hundred head, however rainfall had a big impact on supply at Dalby where numbers decreased over 50 per cent.

The weather is producing optimism in the store market and restocker grades continue to climb. Feeder buyers remain the dominant buying force in the market purchasing the largest numbers resulting in prices remaining very solid with a lift in quality improving the average prices in places. Nevertheless lightweight slaughter lines of young cattle went against this trend and average prices eased in places with only top end quality lines commanding a fairly high rate.

Export grades responded to the wet weather and as the week progressed despite a consignment of supplementary fed full mouth bullocks being included in the line-up prices improved. Cows also shared in the rising trend with prices at Dalby lifting by 2¢ to 8¢/kg. Plain condition cows improved the most due to strong restocker demand against processors.

The sorghum market is still struggling to find any strength, as grain prices are still being pressured from world excess grain stocks. Barley from southern regions is still being trucked onto the downs at cheaper levels.

Export grades dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 179¢ while some well bred lines to restocker's made to 230¢ to average 204¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock made to 203.2¢ to average 193¢/kg. A fair supply of vealer heifers to the trade averaged 8¢ cheaper at 175¢ with a handful of heavy grades to local butchers reaching 199.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers sold to restocker's 15¢ dearer at 203¢ with some sales to 216.2¢/kg. A large sample of medium weight lines to feed mostly sold just under 190¢ with a few pens reaching 198¢/kg. Heavy grades to feed averaged 187¢ and slaughter lines 183¢ and sold to 190.6¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers returning to the paddock averaged 5¢ better at 181¢ while slaughter lines lost 6¢ to average close 165¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed remained firm at 175¢ and sold to 189.6¢ and slaughter grades averaged 171¢ with some making to 183.2¢/kg.

Bullocks across all markets averaged 1¢ dearer at 181¢ with supplementary fed lines to 191.2¢/kg. Supplementary fed full mouth bullocks reached 186.2¢ with the remainder around 173¢/kg. Lightweight cows to restocker's averaged 12¢ dearer at 114¢, while medium weight 2 scores to processors lifted by 5¢ to average 122¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to a top of 151.6¢ with a fair sample 2¢ better at 142¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Improved prices

It has been a good sale week for cattle producers, as most categories have been selling at dearer levels. A weaker A$ has assisted export categories, while the heavy NSW and Queensland and SA pastoral rainfall has kick started strong restocker competition, particularly for young cattle and also plain quality 1 and 2 score light and medium weight cows, with many destined for the Broken Hill region.

The SA LE had a much smaller yarding, and featured mixed quality runs of young cattle that sold to spirited competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeder buyers from the Mid North provided solid competition for suitable lightweight yearlings. There were increased numbers of export categories that all managed to attract improved prices.

Naracoorte’s similar sized yarding also sold to a dearer trend from the usual Victorian, SA and NSW trade and processor buyers, with feeder and restocker orders also active.

Mt. Gambier’s numbers recorded a large increase after last week’s improved prices. However, while grown steers were in good quality runs, the young cattle and cows featured a slip in quality. This did not deter the usual SA, Victorian and NSW buying contingent, as all categories attracted a dearer trend. A NSW restocker order was also present, however used last Friday’s Mt. Gambier store sale to source stock.

Millicent increased slightly after last week’s small offering, with most of the usual Victorian buyers attending on runs that featured mainly young cattle.

Most categories dearer

Vealer steers to the trade sold mainly from 162¢ to 197¢ at rates 3¢ to 8¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders paid from 150¢ to 176¢, with C2 sales 1¢ to 14¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifer sales mainly to the trade ranged between 150¢ and 190¢, and generally 4¢ to 6¢ dearer with isolated sales even higher. Feeders and restockers sourced a mixture of quality from 142¢ to 165¢/kg also at dearer levels. The C3 yearling steers to the trade sold from 145¢ to 179¢ to average 15¢/kg dearer due to the much dearer SA LE sale. Feeder and restocker orders secured C2 and C3 steers from 148¢ to 184¢ also at much dearer levels. Yearling heifers were generally 2¢ to 14¢ dearer, with C3 and C4 sales 145¢ to 170¢ and D3 sales 128¢ to 150¢/kg.

Grown steer and bullock prices averaged around 10¢ dearer, with C3 to C5 sales mainly 150¢ to 171¢ or around a 290¢/kg cwt average. Restockers sourced D2 cows from 113¢ to 136¢, with processor purchases of 3 to 5 scores from 105¢ to 140¢, as most cows sold at rates 3¢ to 9¢ more and mainly in a 240¢ to 265¢/kg cwt price range.

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Supply falls

It has been an improved week for producers with all of the markets reported by MLA’s NLRS selling to dearer levels. Most categories were able to realise gains of 5¢ to 14¢/kg. Some of this was triggered by a fall in supply with only Leongatha in South Gippsland, offering a similar sized yarding. The remaining sales were smaller with some only slightly lower, while others recorded 20 per cent to 50 per cent reductions. Rain was a major factor behind numbers easing with a similar trend also recorded across NSW, Queensland, and SA.

As far as young cattle are concerned, the EYCI highlights the improvements recorded to prices as Thursday’s figure climbed 11¢ on last week to 336¢/kg. As far as grown cattle are concerned, the lower value of the A$ had some positive effect, but considering the strong price increases for bullocks and cows, the lack of supply forced processors to lift their competition.

As supplies in other states diminish more competition was realised across the state from feedlots, and this assisted in higher prices, and a larger range of weights, quality and breeding was sought.

It would appear that strong demand will continue from now on, although with the higher prices occurring, there will possibly be more cattle penned the next week. Bullock fatteners could feature well in this scenario with an average of 10¢/kg adding around $60 to $75/head onto producer returns.

Prices lift

A fall in both supply and quality of the vealers offered created some very strong competition for better quality lots with prices achieved ranging from 175¢ to 210¢/kg. This included some very heavy vealers weighing well over 400kg lwt. Feedlots and restockers purchased a good share of the vealers paying from 155¢ to 192¢/kg. Plainer muscle and poorer quality vealers received the least of prices rises making between 125¢ and 165¢/kg. Grass finished yearlings sold well with steers making between 145¢ and 177¢ with supplementary feds making to 190¢/kg. Yearling heifers made mostly sold from 135¢ to 170¢/kg.

While the supply of grown steers was smaller, the quality was good. At Leongatha, there was a large run of younger 0 to 2 teeth steers were penned, although a lot of these weighed well over 600kg lwt. Prices across the state were between 153¢ and 174¢, while prime C muscle bullocks made to 172¢, and averaged 163¢/kg. Cows sold well with better quality grades making from 122¢ to 146¢/kg. Leaner cows made mostly between 90¢ and 125¢ with all cows averaging an estimated 244¢/kg cwt. Further advances may depend on the value of the A$ against world currencies.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Vealer season winding up

Conditions in the far north remain reasonable, while conditions in and around the Carnarvon in the Gascoyne remain very tight and continue to struggle with drought. In the southern Agricultural districts weather conditions have been predominately fine and dry. The long extended dry period in the far south continues to have a negative impact on perennial growth with dry pasture feed now in very short supply. This has impacted carrying capacity and producers continue to turnoff stock because of dwindling feed supplies.

The end of the vealer selling season is in sight with the Great Southern sale finishing the two-day sales format at the end of next week before reverting to a single sale the following Thursday. The bull selling season has also now all but finished with a reasonable clearance having been achieved thus far. .

Supply at physical markets was again lower due mainly to smaller numbers being penned in the Great Southern. Midland’s supplies were firm and the yarding was again predominately made up of local grades with few pastoral cattle included. The flow of cattle recently to the eastern states has continued with very solid numbers of vealers, yearlings and store cows having crossed the border with destinations as far as Queensland.

Physical markets continue to see only limited supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers with trade weight yearling volumes also minimal. The dry conditions continue to stimulate cow turnoff with good numbers again penned, but given the close proximity to calving this shouldn’t last.

Trade market firm

The numbers of new season vealers were again lower throughout the weekly sales. Weight and quality remained mixed as producers are now at the bottom end of their calves and many off loading due to a shortage of feed and the lateness of the season. The tight season conditions throughout the spring last year meant many producers had to hold grass cattle longer to finish them and consequently could not restocker early. These restockers are now in the market and their added competition again resulted in increased rates paid throughout the majority of classes with several eastern states order once again active in the market. The constricted supplies of both yearling trade weight steers and heifers were once again of very mixed quality with the majority sourced from pasture with virtually no grain finished drafts penned. The mixed quality of both steers and heifers continued to impact the market with rates relatively unchanged.

Heavy weight steers and bullock remained firm despite the limited numbers available with heavy weight heifer values also in line with recent weeks. The large turn off of cows currently in yards failed to deter a solid processor competition that ensured firm values.

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