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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

26 April 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Supply increases

The large break to the selling program due to two Monday public holidays influenced a larger number of stock into the Toowoomba saleyards. The two short trading week's combined with the move into autumn influenced larger numbers at all other selling centres, with supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS lifting by 37 per cent. Overall quality was mixed however the good seasonal conditions were reflected in the standard of the calves and vealers with good samples of well presented lines being penned. Young cattle were in the largest numbers at Warwick where producers selected to wean calves and vealers straight into the saleyards. Restocker's were very active on the steer portion of the lightweight lines and despite a larger supply were able to absorb the increased numbers plus maintain recent prices. However the heifer portion of the vealer to the trade experienced the opposite trend and average prices eased by 7¢/kg. Yearling grades of steers and heifers to restocker's and feed generally sold to a strong enquiry with small adjustments in average prices in places due to quality. The widespread rain and flooding in February preventing the movement of stock into the feedlots is now creating a shortfall in yearling grades suited to the local trade market. Values for slaughter grades of yearling steers and heifers turnaround this week and improved by 5¢ to 8¢/kg.

Export grades at early week markets experienced a lift in price, however as the week progressed despite good buyer attendance the increase in supply and the shorter kill weeks for processors values tumbled under the sheer weight of numbers. Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter lost 4¢ to 6¢, and cows eased in price by 2¢ to 4¢/kg.

Mixed values

Calves returning to the paddock averaged 4¢ dearer at close to 202¢ with sales to 231.2¢ while trade descriptions were generally females and averaged 176¢/kg. The bulk of the vealer steers either sold to feeder operators or restocker’s and averaged 203¢ and 205¢/kg respectively. Vealer heifers to the trade were well supplied and averaged 7¢ less at 168¢ the occasional sale of heavy grades to local butchers made to 210¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock consistently sold at around 212¢ with a few to 230¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 186¢ and sold to 200¢, while heavyweights to feed averaged 183¢/kg. A large supply of lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 170¢, and restocker lines 189¢/kg. Medium weight lines to slaughter averaged 8¢ better at 173¢ and sold to 195.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 176¢ and sold to 187.6¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 4¢ less at 170¢, while a fair sample of bullocks averaged 6¢ cheaper at 169¢ the occasional sale to 182.2¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows lost 4¢ to average 123¢ and a very large sample of good heavy cows averaged 5¢ cheaper at 135¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply jumps before short week

Cattle throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards increased five per cent on last week and remains 19 per cent higher than the corresponding week in 2009. The small increase is a combination of no Monday sales next week due to the ANZAC long weekend and increased turn off as the cooler months approach.

Dubbo, Armidale, Singleton and Casino all recorded reduced throughput but this was more than offset by large increases at the other markets. The quality and finish of the cattle is slipping as the cooler weather and dry conditions take effect. Northern NSW and the Hunter region are most affected with very few prime well finished lots presented. Young cattle and cows made up the majority of the states throughput with producers looking to ensure they have suitable feed and water supplies to carry stock through winter.

The regular field of processor buyers were present across the state and were competing with strong restocker and feeder buyers. There were two extra processor buyers present at CTLX keen to secure cows. Most vealer steers were returned to the paddock with bulk of the heifers going to the trade. Lotfeeders were very keen to secure yearling steers with only a handful to slaughter. Processors and feeders accounted for most yearling heifer consignments although restockers purchased 22 per cent.

The increase in supply and slip in quality caused most weights and grades to sell to a cheaper trend. Direct to slaughter rates remained firm to slightly dearer with the value of the A$ limiting export enquiry. One processor lifted rates with an increase in demand from overseas.

Prices drop off

The majority of consignments this week sold to weaker demand which resulted in an overall cheaper trend. Calves to slaughter were 2¢ and those to restock slipped up to 16¢ to average from 190¢ to 200¢/kg.

Medium weight vealer steers to restockers lost 6¢ to 8¢ selling from 170¢ to 212¢/kg. Those to processors lost 5¢ mostly selling around 184¢/kg. Vealer heifers back to the paddock ere between 6¢ and 10¢ cheaper selling from 160¢ to 190¢ at an average of 175¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to the trade made between 156¢ and 193¢ to be 11¢/kg cheaper.

Heavyweight yearling steers were 2¢ to 6¢ down on last week ranging from 165¢ to 195¢/kg. Medium weight to restockers gained 2¢ at 183¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feed lost up to 6¢ with lightweights averaging 170¢ and medium weights 167¢/kg. Those to process also lost ground, medium weights mostly sold around 170¢ and heavyweights made 167¢/kg.

Heavyweight grown steers to slaughter were slightly cheaper making form 152¢ to 190¢/kg. Medium weight D2 and D3 cows were 3¢ cheaper selling around 124¢ to 128¢/kg. Heavyweight D3 and D4 cows were firm to 4¢ less to mostly sell around 138¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Large decrease in numbers

It appears cattle numbers might be tightening as producers are given a chance to put more condition on their cattle after some welcome rainfall. The SA LE’s numbers remained stable at 912 head with quality tending to improve with more supplementary fed yearlings offered that sold to strong competition from the usual trade and processor buyers, as they bid keenly to source supplies. Feeder orders were also active and quite competitive with the trade sourcing well bred vealers and yearlings. Processors also tended to lift grown steer and heifer prices together with cows. South East yardings are on the decline and were the main reason for the state total retreating as saleyard numbers in that region fell by over 50 per cent. Also with a South East processor only operating a four day week it will be interesting to see what eventuates over the next few weeks after some welcome rainfall over the past fortnight and some warm days that is assisting pasture growth. Naracoorte’s numbers fell by 1,146 (to 1,064 head) in a strange sale where young cattle were generally cheaper and grown cattle dearer.

That trend flowed onto Mt. Gambier’s 1,188 (or 1,086 head less), where quality was very mixed and featured only limited numbers of prime cattle. There was solid SA and Victorian processor competition that had added input from a NSW order for suitable grown steers. However, young cattle prices suffered due to the absence of a Victorian wholesaler. Millicent agents could only put together 155 cattle or 420 head less before perhaps going into a fortnightly mode.

Young cheaper, exports dearer

Vealer steers to the trade and some local butcher inquiry in limited numbers sold from 172¢ to 209¢ at rates 6¢ to 10¢/kg less. Feeder and restocker orders secured C2 steers from 175¢ to 198¢/kg, with some sales dearer, and others cheaper. Vealer heifers to the trade sold between 155¢ and 200¢, with an isolated sale to 220¢ for lightweights, as most sales were unchanged to 8¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers sourced a wide range of quality from 132¢ to 200¢/kg. Yearling steers in mainly supplementary fed runs sold from 165¢ to 200¢ to be unchanged to 4¢/kg cheaper. Feeders sourced C2 steers mainly from 168¢ to 195¢/kg, with lightweights at the higher end of prices. Yearling C3 heifer sales were between 160¢ and 190¢, or 2¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steers were keenly sourced with C3 and C4 sales mainly 175¢ to 188¢, or 2c to 12¢/kg dearer and mainly in a 310¢ to 350¢/kg cwt price range. Cow prices were unchanged to 7¢ dearer, with restockers paying from 126¢ to 146¢ for 2 and 3 score beef cows, with processor purchases of 3 to 5 scores 125¢ to 160¢/kg. This left most carcase weight prices ranging from 265¢ to 310¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Quality slipping

Quality has been the major issue relating to prices. All markets quoted quality deteriorating where vealers and yearlings were concerned, which was reflected in the EYCI figures. At the close of trade on Thursday the EYCI figure was 342.50c, down by 7.25c/kg cwt week on week. However, this figure is calculated across the eastern seaboard, and the reason this is mentioned is the lift in prices of cattle purchased to feed-on. In theory, with more cattle showing lesser condition feedlots and restockers had more to choose from, but the very strong demand, and the number of better bred cattle purchased has also helped this outcome. Gippsland markets all offered buyers lager supply, and along with this came plainer quality and cattle of plainer breeding. There were many cattle that sold at unchanged rates, but the downturn in quality affected averages by 2c, and as much as 10c/kg in places.

Grown cattle have generally sold quite well despite some large yardings of steers, bullocks and cows being offered. The more interesting trend was seen in cow sales, especially for lean 1 and some 2 score cows best suiting the 90CL grinding beef market in the US. The value of the A$ has crept up to as high as 93.65c during the week, but US prices for the lean meat has been matching it, and evening creating a better result for export processors. Prices for these cows has been unchanged to dearer, and with processors still only working short weeks, demand for bullocks and steers has been fairly steady also.

Prices shaved

The supply of cattle can be accredited partly to the coming long weekend, but price has still been a great motivator for producers. The best quality vealers were lesser supplied, and although the very high prices of late were not achieved, B muscle calves made from 195c to 220c/kg. Where the better results were seen at times was for C muscle vealers, and the equivalent yearling steers ad heifers that made between 165c and 220c/kg. The highest prices were reserved mostly for grain fattened cattle. With the quality dropping a lot of plainer condition cattle made between 145c and 175c with some assistance from feedlots.

The best quality bullocks made to 185c, and grown steers to 187c, but with most C muscle grades making from 165c to 179c/kg. Processor demand for better quality cows saw a lot of good to very good quality beef cows make from 138c to 163c/kg. The strong competition for lean cows saw the bulk of the 1 and 2 scores range between 110c and 138c/kg, and all of this interaction saw the carcass weight prices average estimated to be 280c/kg. Bulls sold well also as quality and prices of 95CL grinding beef, were better.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Slaughter cattle limited

The dry conditions have continued to plagued pastoralists in the northern pastoral areas. Mustering has begun as pastoralists endeavour to off load surplus stock in an effort to conserve feed levels. Live export activity thankfully for pastoralists has shifted from the southern regions to loading now out of northern ports. Conditions in the southern Ag regions remained tight and dry with very little follow-up rainfall having been recorded from the good falls received a month ago. This has stressed many pastures with much now having already died with the remainder in urgent need of moisture. Forecasts for the next seven days however do not look favourable. The majority of calving has now occurred in the Ag districts and this coupled with the dry conditions continues to stimulate producers to supplementary feeding. The numbers of cattle forwarded into physical markets was very solid this week with both Midland and Mt Barker having sizable supplies. Despite Midland’s larger yarding and the dry conditions in the north pastoral cattle supplies were only fair with agents commenting that larger supplies will soon been seen.

Heavy weight steers, bullocks and heavy weight heifer supplies remained negligible at all three markets. This was also the case for prime trade weight yearlings, either grass or grain finished as young store grades of locally bred agricultural cattle accounted for the majority of sales. Cow volumes were fair, but again quality and weight were both marginal. Trade demand remained similar across the majority of classes. A continued solid demand was recorded from the feeder and restocker sectors.

Store demand maintained

Vealer supplies were all but non existent with the majority of sales being of light or calf weights. Demand for these classes remains firm from both the local trade and restockers. Trade weight yearling steers and heifer were met by a firm and similar trade and feeder demand, with the latter now more confident about feeding cattle to heavier weights on the expectation that processor will have a shortage of heavy boning cattle throughout the winter months. The very small supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks saw little or no change in either demand or values. Heavy weight heifer rates remained buoyant also with a firm trade demand recorded.

The very strong numbers of yearling store cattle were generally of medium and lightweight. Quality, was would be expected at this time of year was very mixed. Despite this factor there was a continued strong demand from the feeder and restocker sectors throughout the classes of both sexes with the recent strong market rates maintained. This strong demand again restrained eastern states orders which are still available in WA with price the only restricting factor. Processor demand on both heavy weight cows and bulls was firm with the market again buoyant.

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