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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

17 December 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

WA weekly cattle summary

End of sales year nears

Forecasts have given rise to hopes of solid rain throughout much of northern and central parts of the state with a large low pressure system sitting to the west of the coast. It is expected that rainfall will be recorded throughout much of Pilbarra, Gascoyne and Murchison regions and possibly down through the Agricultural districts across the weekend period. If received and at solid levels this would alleviate the drought conditions that these regions have been coping with over the past several seasons.

Producers in the southern Agricultural regions are also hopeful that rain will be received now that the overall bulk of this year's harvest has been completed and heavy enough to create run off to top a dam water levels, which remain a major problem for many across many regions. Feed conditions in the south continue to diminish and turnoff remains very high with all weekly markets having large yardings once again with the state still at least six weeks in front of where numbers would be in a normal year.

Muchea's again had very large volumes of plain pastoral cattle included in its yarding. Trade and heavy weight steer and heifer supplies continued to be limited, while vealer supplies, particularly in the southwest and Great Southern remained very large. Cow volumes were also recorded at solid levels, while this week was the end of the selling year for Mt Barker, while Muchea will have a sale next week. As is usual at this time of year special female sales have begun with demand reported as high.

Vealer demand grows

Vealer yardings continue to have a good spread of numbers and weight throughout the classes with an increase once again in the weight of southern calves as coastal areas, which have enjoyed reasonable seasonal conditions begin to turnoff their run. Demand for vealers continued to improve as competition from local and eastern states restockers and feeders remained at high levels. There was ongoing live export demand on the steer and heifer classes which consequently led to a stronger market, particularly in lighter steer and heifer classes. The tight supplies of prime yearling trade weight steers and heifers continued to be met by a solid local trade and retailer demand however there was little or no change recorded in values.

Grown steer values rose, but caution must be taken when viewing this due to the limited numbers. This was also the case in heavy weight grown heifer categories. The solid cow supplies again resulted in less demand for heavy weights as their prices eased, while better quality medium weight cows recorded firm demand from the processing sector. Lightweight plain pastoral cows continued to record restocker and processor competition with little change in values.

SA weekly cattle summary

Smaller numbers

There was a smaller yarding at Mt. Gambier's Monday export category sale which started off at lower prices for the grown steers, before accelerating where quality and weights suited a NSW order. Prices followed a similar pattern for the cows that sold mainly between 125¢ and 152¢/kg.

The SA LE's numbers rose and included good quality runs that met with fluctuating demand from the usual trade and processor buyers. The sale started strongly as feeder orders seemed intent on purchasing increased numbers. However, as it progressed prices tended to ease before surging again later. Feeder orders were restricted to mainly single purchases of vealer steers. Yearling steers sold to a mixture of trade and feeder activity, with the heifers following suit at generally dearer levels. Limited numbers of mainly medium weight grown steers were slightly dearer, while there small numbers of grown heifers and manufacturing steers. Larger runs of cows failed to attract that much interest, apart from restocker orders who paid up to 159c/kg for D3 medium and heavyweights.

Naracoorte's much smaller yarding after last week's large weaner sales drained the paddocks. Most of the usual SA, Victorian and NSW buyers were present and operating, with a supermarket having a spirited bidding duel at times on prime yearling steers and heifers.

Mt. Gambier's similar numbered Wednesday sale was generally mixed quality apart from some excellent quality vealers late in the sale. There was strong competition for all categories. Millicent also had a reduced yarding for their last sale for 2010.

Erratic prices

The varying prices trends at all physical markets led to some erratic trends. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 186¢ to 215¢ with a single A1 sale at 234¢ to be basically unchanged. Feeder and restocker orders were active as they sourced B and C muscled steers over a wide range of weights between 185¢ and 215¢ also at mainly dearer levels. Vealer heifers to mainly trade competition sold generally from 178¢ to 224¢, with a lightweight A1 sale at 254¢/kg. This left most sales unchanged to 6¢/kg dearer. Yearling steer C3 mainly heavyweight sales were from 165c¢ to 200¢ or 2c/kg dearer. Feeder purchases of C2 and C3 steers ranged from 164¢ to 200¢ to be 3¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were generally from 168¢ to 198¢ or unchanged to 5¢/kg cheaper for the heavyweights.

Grown steer C3 and C4 sales of mainly medium weights were from 172¢ to 194¢ to be mainly 1¢ to 6¢ dearer, and averaging just below 330¢/kg cwt. Cow prices varied a few cents either side of unchanged, with D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows generally selling from 127¢ to 156¢, and mainly 265¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Supply dips

Demand was generally stronger at all of the markets reported by MLA's NLRS. This was due in part to a slight easing in supply, and although prices were mostly unchanged to dearer, quality variations led to some lower prices for some categories. Competition between the markets varied with some processors actively seeking supply, while others were only just filling the next days kill.

Feedlot buyers, and restockers purchased a large range of cattle, and strong competition led to higher prices for these cattle. At times they were forced to buy forward store cattle to have any hope of securing sufficient supply. Over all markets they purchased 10% of the cattle offered, and although quality was better, and prices were higher, they were still better buying than lines purchased at store cattle sales.

This strong competition was a factor behind another lift in the EYCI, which closed 3.75¢ higher on Thursday compared to last week at 390.25¢/kg cwt.

Most export processors are closing over the two week holiday period, even though all of the local abattoirs are working some of the days in between Christmas and New Year. The strong demand was also evident for grown cattle, even though the A$ again rose to just over parity for a short period of time. Prices for grown steers, cows and bulls were firm to dearer, and processors are reporting some very good dressing percentages with the very good season having a positive impact.

Dearer cow prices

Vealer prices improved slightly, as processors tried to secure numbers to fill orders close to Christmas. With other meats filling most tables at Christmas the steady demand for the best quality vealers saw B muscle grades make from 190¢ to 224¢/kg for a broad range of weights. Restockers paid to 247¢/kg for light vealers with most making over 190¢/kg. The general run of C muscle vealers ranged from 180¢ to 215¢, with most sales close to 204¢/kg. Yearling steers and heifers sold very well with most making between 175¢ and 205¢/kg.

Extra competition at some markets along with the regular buyers pushed medium weight grown steers to 196¢, as prime C muscle grown steers and bullocks ranged from 173¢ to 188¢/kg. The extra heavy and over conditioned bullocks made 150¢ to 174¢/kg.

Demand for good quality cows resulted in further price increases, of between 3¢ and 7¢/kg. There were few cows that made below 145¢, as the vast majority made between 150¢ and 168¢/kg. Restockers bid against processors for lines of better finished leaner cows, causing prices to rise and range from 125c¢ to 152¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 301¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Numbers climb

Cattle throughput at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets increased 17% compared to last week and was 4% higher than the corresponding week last year. Producers were able to bring more numbers forward with limited marketing opportunities before the Christmas and New Year break. Dubbo, Gunnedah, Tamworth and Scone had significant lifts in supply, while Casino, Forbes, Goulburn and Wagga had reduced offerings. Forbes was down due to flooding in the town and local areas with Goulburn also impacted by extensive rainfall over the supply area. In Wagga the drop in throughput was due to some producers looking get back in the header to try and salvage some crop.

The increase in numbers was able to be absorbed by buyers as the usual contingent looked to secure enough numbers to carry them over the holiday period. Prices were also assisted by some extra competition given the difficulties producers have faced delivering consigned cattle, some feeders and processors have been forced to try and bridge the gap by making extra purchases from the physical market.

Quality and condition of the offerings continues to be mostly good with plenty of well finished lines presented displaying excellent weight and finish. Most categories were well represented with yearlings by far the largest categories to be offered. Yearling steers made up 23% of the states offering while yearling heifers accounted for 19%. There was a good run of grown steers, which made up 10% and most of them were heavyweights in 3 or 4 score condition, while cows made up 11%.

Prices hold strong

Feeder and processor demand remained strong with prices generally dearer. On the other hand average prices for young lightweight steers tended to ease slightly. Calves to processors averaged 264¢ as the lightweight vealer steers to the same buyers gained 5¢ to 262¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers to processors gained 10¢ to average 265¢ after selling to 273¢ while the medium weights mostly settled around 246¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers back to the paddock averaged 4¢ cheaper to average 222¢/kg. Medium and heavyweights to feed sold to strong demand gaining 4¢ to 5¢ and averaging between 197¢ and 210¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed gained 4¢ to average 205¢ while those to restockers were 2¢ dearer mostly making around 209¢/kg. Medium weights to feed and slaughter improved 3¢ to 200¢ and 203¢ respectively. Heavyweights to the trade sold to 219¢ to average 194¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders gained 5¢ to average 190¢ as the heavyweights to processors averaged 2¢ dearer around 184¢/kg. Bullocks were firm to 3¢ dearer averaging 178¢ to 181¢/kg. Medium weight cows were firm to 2¢ dearer averaging between 146¢ and 151¢/kg. Heavyweight D4 pens improved 2¢ to average 152¢ after reaching 165.2¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Strong supply at closing markets

The majority of selling centres conducted their final sales for 2010, and despite some more rain across the supply area the number of stock penned at the Toowoomba markets increased. A few clear days around Roma allowed livestock movement and numbers increased for the final store sale for the year. Producers displayed an urgency to yard stock before the annual break and at Dalby a larger supply of good quality cattle came forward. Overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS generally hovered around the previous weeks level.

Not all the usual buyers were present in the young cattle sections and despite the absence of one interstate processor values continued to climb for a number of slaughter classes of calves vealers and lightweight yearlings. Feeder grades were well supplied and feeder operators were able to absorb the increased numbers plus lift average prices by 7¢ to 8¢ and up to 13¢/kg in places. With only two more small trade cattle sales in Toowoomba and Warwick before the Christmas break butchers and wholesalers were keen to secure adequate supplies to cover needs until the second week in the New Year.

Export slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks sold to a rising market at the commencement of the week. However by mid week the absence of two major export buyers from the buying panel resulted in steers and bullocks at Dalby falling by 8¢ to 10¢/kg. Plain condition cows generally experienced strong demand throughout the week. Nevertheless the absence of the high yielding cows of the previous week at Dalby resulted in average prices easing by 4¢/kg.

Bullocks cheaper

Calves to the trade made to 258.2¢ and a fairly large sample averaged 233¢ while a small selection returned to the paddock at a top of 267.2¢/kg. Vealer steers made to a top of 248¢ with the largest samples around 205¢/kg. A large sample of vealer heifers to slaughter averaged 6¢ dearer at 224¢ with local butchers paying to 249.2¢/kg. A large sample of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 3¢ dearer at 223¢ and sold to 246.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 13¢ dearer at 214¢ with a few sales to 232.2¢/kg. A very large line-up of heavy weight yearling steers to feed improved 7¢ to average 203¢ with some well bred lines to 215.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers returned to the paddock at 211¢ and sold to 228.2¢ while slaughter grades generally sold around 210¢ and made to 237.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed sold to a market 7¢ dearer at 204¢ and sold to 219.2¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers across all markets averaged 188¢/kg. Bullocks also across all markets for the week averaged 2¢ less at just under 190¢ the occasional sale to 204.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 130¢ and 3 scores 143¢/kg. Good heavy cows lost 2¢ to average 159¢ with single sales to 172¢/kg.

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