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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

03 September 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

NSW weekly cattle summary

Numbers return after the wet

Cattle throughput returned to more normal levels following a number of rain affected markets last week. Supply across the state increased 43per cent at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets. Recent high prices - in particular for store young cattle also influenced a rise in numbers at some markets.

CTLX, Forbes, Goulburn, and Tamworth all had drops in supply while Wagga and Singleton remained steady. These were more than offset by Armidale and Dubbo doubling, Gunnedah more than tripling and the Inverell sale being five times larger than last week. Scone and Casino were also larger by 35per cent and 24per cent respectively.

Quality varied given the recent wet weather, although providing good growth for forage crops and pasture it has also had a negative affect with some young cattle not displaying the required finish for processing. Along with the unfinished lines suited to restockers or feeder buyers there were also an increased percentage of well finished yearlings off crops or having been supplementary fed.

Most of the usual buyers were operating with some extra northern processors adding to the competition at Gunnedah. Restockers continue to operate on the lighter cattle accounting for 69per cent of vealer steer purchases, 36per cent of yearling steers and taking home 12per cent of the cows offered. Grown steer numbers increased making up 12per cent of the total yarding compared to 10per cent last week.

Over the hooks rates experienced an easing trend with a couple of processors lowering rates 3¢ to 5¢/kg cwt as a result of the tough meat trading environment.

Prices mixed

Restockers continue to bid strongly on lightweight young cattle as vealer steers returning to the paddock improved 2¢ to 4¢ averaging 227¢ to 233¢/kg. Lightweights to process eased 5¢ averaging 220¢, the heifer portion slipped 3¢ to 218¢ with those to restockers also cheaper mostly selling from 205¢ to 208¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter eased 7¢ to average 206¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed gained 4¢ to 205¢ while those to restock were 4¢ cheaper at 206¢/kg. Medium weight to feeders were firm around 197¢ as heavyweights to slaughter gained 5¢ to 192¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter averaged 196¢ as those to feed and restock averaged between 188¢ and 191¢/kg. Medium weight C3's to process were firm at 191¢ as heavyweights made around 183¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed were unchanged at 183¢, heavyweight C3 and C4's also average 183¢ which was 1¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper. Bullocks eased 2¢ to 178¢ after reaching 190¢/kg. Medium weight cows to restockers sold 5¢ dearer at 132¢/kg. D2's to slaughter averaged 5¢ dearer at 137¢ as D3's slipped 2¢ to 141¢/kg. Heavyweight D3 cows sold to 163¢ and averaged 2¢ higher at 150¢ while D4 pens eased 1¢ to mostly sell around 151¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Numbers decline

Cattle numbers retreated at the SALE after last week's weaker priced sale greeted the usual trade and processor buyers in a generally very good quality yarding of mainly young cattle. Feeder orders were also active and were keen to source lightweight yearling steers at dearer levels, as at times they left the trade in their wake, while the heifers were generally cheaper. However, there were only limited numbers of grown steers and grown heifers that were dearer, while only 33 cows were offered.

Naracoorte's cow and bull sale last Friday contained some 800 cows and 106 bulls that witnessed quality and prices slipping. Naracoorte's Tuesday's young cattle sale featured a much improved quality yarding of mainly young cattle and grown steers that sold to strong SA and Victorian trade and processor competition, with a supermarket order definitely heightened competition as they sourced prime yearling steers and heifers for what could be the next days kill. This helped to lift prices to dearer levels, with a comment from the gallery as to why they aren't here more often.

Feeder and restocker orders were limited to smaller lines due to the better quality being offered. Mt. Gambier had a similar numbered yarding after having drawn for numbers below 2,000 head after the large downturn in grown steer prices the previous week. However, the good quality being offered led to grown steers and bullocks recouping some losses, while it was a mixed quality of young cattle and beef and dairy cows.

Varying trends

Young cattle and cows were erratic and grown steers dearer. Large numbers of fresh quality beef calves sold to restocker and wholesale inquiry at mainly between $270 and $570/head. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 195¢ to 214¢ with C3 sales 5¢ dearer, and the few B muscled 15¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases of C2 steers were from 185¢ to 201¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade were generally 2¢ to 16¢ cheaper, with C3 sales 190¢ to 211¢ and isolated B muscled sales to 218¢/kg. The C3 yearling steers in mainly heavyweight runs sold from 172¢ to 201¢ to be 7¢ dearer, with the medium weights 9¢/kg cheaper. Feeders sourced C2 steers from 176¢ to 197¢ or 2¢ to 16¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales sold generally from 165¢ to 196¢ at rates unchanged to 8¢/kg dearer due to the strong South East sales.

Grown steers were mainly 1¢ to 6¢ dearer, with C3 and C4 sales mostly 176¢ to 194¢/kg and mainly 325¢ to 340¢/kg cwt. Cows varied a few cents either side of unchanged with D2 to C6 sales 110¢ to 167¢/kg, and mainly 260¢ to 320¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

More rain needed

The unusual weather pattern of the past few months has continued. A widespread cloud band covered much of northern and central parts of the state did resulted in some good falls to pastoral and some regional districts with the majority of the rain above and to the east of Perth. Temperatures throughout the past week have been reasonably cold with frosts continuing to be recorded in southern regions.

Figures released this week have shown that the majority of the southern parts of the state has recorded approximately half or less of their annual average rainfall and this continues to hamper the growth of both pastures and crops. When this is combined with a lack of feed, many producers change their management plans and sold off stock earlier than they normally would. This included lightweight vealers and surplus heifers that perhaps would have been mated and sold later. Many producers are already expecting that hay will be at a premium this year and with grain pries on the rise these factors are also influencing producer's decision making.

The dry conditions remain throughout much of the northern pastoral regions and the turnoff of cattle from these areas remain solid with many still being consigned across to the eastern states, where demand for WA cattle continues to be very strong.

The ongoing Indonesian issues also remains a heavy influence in the market as producers from the north send cattle normally sold on the live export market south to southern processors. This has caused production space at abattoirs to come at a premium and this has had an affect on the market.

Trade demand wanes

The numbers in physical markets remain reasonably similar to the previous week. Muchea continued to be the largest of the weekly markets with solid supplies of cattle being forwarded from the northern pastoral regions. The numbers of lightweight vealers have begun to increase as come producers endeavour to maximise current low feed levels. Demand for these remains reasonable from both restockers and feeders for back grounding. The supplies of trade weight yearlings remained reasonably tight. Trade demand was firm at sales earlier in the week but fell away sharply at the Great Southern sale later in the week. Overall values subsequently eased irrespective of sex or quality. The quality and weight in store classes of cattle was again very mixed this week. Uncertainty in seasonal conditions has begun to be seen in the market. Once again demand in early sales was reasonable but this again fell as the week progressed across all categories.

Demand for the limited supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks was unchanged to both processors and restockers. Heavy weight cows, grown heifers and bulls however recorded a decline in processor demand with prices slightly lower.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Large lift in supply

With most of the supply areas starting to dry out after the recent good rain supply at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS climbed 60per cent. Numbers at the Roma store sale returned to normal after last week's rain prevented the movement of stock, and numbers were steady at the prime sale following the cancellation due to the wet weather last week.

Buyer representation was good with a strong presence of interstate operators in the young cattle sections, and most of the local export processors were active on the heavy steers, bullocks and cows. Lightweight yearlings dominated the selling pens and despite the large supply feeder operators restockers and the trade were able to absorb the increase plus lift values in places by close to 10¢/kg. Vealer heifers came under very strong competition from local and interstate processors, and this strong demand also flowed onto the lightweight yearling heifers and prices responded accordingly.

Overall quality of lightweight yearling heifers was generally good with some large consignments off crop coming forward. Restockers and feeder operators maintained the recent strong demand displayed on the yearling steers, while butchers and wholesalers lifted 7¢/kg on the medium and heavy weight yearling heifers.

Heavy steers and bullocks experienced some improvement in value at markets early in the week. However as the week progressed and more numbers became available values at Dalby remained firm, while at closing week markets values struggled to maintain the rates of previous sales. Cows virtually followed a similar trend and by the end of week markets prices were starting to feel the pinch.

Lightweight yearling heifers dearer

Calves to restockers made to 231.2c with most around 201c, while trade descriptions averaged 198c and sold to 219.2c/kg. The better end of the vealer steers averaged 202¢ and sold to 215.2¢/kg. A large supply of vealer heifers sold to processors at 191¢ with a few sales to 220¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers in large numbers averaged 3¢ dearer at 209¢ with some consignments reaching 241.2¢/kg. Medium weight lines to feed averaged 189¢ and sold to 216.2¢, and a large supply of heavy grades averaged 184¢ and sold to 197¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter averaged 11¢ better at close to 192¢ with sales to 214.2¢/kg. Medium weight and heavy weight grades to the local trade market averaged 187¢ and 183¢/kg respectively.

Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 193.2¢ with a fair sample around 182¢, while a small selection of certified grainfeds made to 199.2¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks made to 194.2¢ with a good sample at 180¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 7¢ better at 123¢ and 3 scores averaged 129¢/kg. Good heavy cows across all markets averaged 4¢ less at 147¢ nevertheless a few sales of well bred lines made to 169.2¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Steady supply

While the supply of cattle recorded at MLA's NLRS reported sales was mostly unchanged, demand, quality and prices was varied. Sometimes even the size of the yarding affected competition. Quality is becoming more of an issue as the recent weather takes its toll with some sales offering some very good quality lines with others tendering plainer secondary lines. This did affect price trends at the different sales, although there appeared to be little regularity in results.

Gippsland markets were not immune to the cheaper trend and most affected were some of the young cattle at Pakenham, which were 2¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. However, one common factor across all markets was the demand for very good quality vealers and supplementary fed yearlings which sold fully firm. One bright spot was prices for calves, which made to a top of 273¢/kg.

Another conflicting trend was recorded in the competition for feeder and restocking lines. Competition was lacking in Gippsland, but other markets recorded some strong demand, at Camperdown feedlot and restocker buyers were present but largely inactive due to the lack of suitable stock. The EYCI at the completion of Thursday's markets was 353.25¢, which was down 2¢/kg cwt on the corresponding time last week.

Grown steer and bullocks were dearer at Leongatha and Wodonga where increases of 2¢ to 6¢/kg largely due to the improved quality compared to previous sales. Across most of the other centres prices ranged from firm to cheaper. Cows continued to well at most sales, but at Camperdown prices were up to 10¢/kg cheaper.

Varied price trend

The general run of C muscle vealers made from 175¢ to 215¢/kg. As the demand for properly finished lines created some good competition, yearling steers and heifers sold mostly between 172¢ and 200¢/kg. Because of the varying demand and competition for cattle to feed, or return to the paddock prices varied greatly. This resulted in better breeding and reasonable quality lines to feed or restock make between 178¢ and 195¢ for steers and heifers with isolated sales of light cattle to 217¢/kg. Plainer quality cattle were purchased from 145¢ to 185¢/kg.

There was varying competition for grown steers and bullocks, as the best quality prime C muscle bullocks made to 195¢/kg at Leongatha. However, most sales of grown steers and bullocks were in the mid 180¢kg range. A large number of cows are being sold because of the current high prices, and this resulted in a greater percentage of poor condition dairy cows being offered. Heavyweight D1 and 2 dairy cows averaged between 135¢ and 143¢ which was firm to 3¢/kg cheaper. Most of the better cows sold well, as prices ranged from firm to 10¢/kg cheaper. The carcase weight price average slipped 3¢ to 297¢/kg.

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