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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

04 May 2012

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

West Australia

Reasonable rainfall recorded

Further rainfall has fallen across much of the agricultural regions of WA over the past seven days with several troughs crossing the coast and bringing much welcomed moisture with it. The first front seen last weekend brought moderate falls to some areas while the second later in the week was more widespread and of greater intensity. It is hoped that this will be the break to this year’s growing season with pasture levels now virtually non-existent with little feed value left in them.

Consequently supplementary feeding remains a high priority on farms especially with calving now peaking. With more moderate weather conditions being enjoyed in the northern pastoral regions mustering activity is on the rise and subsequently there should be increased volumes of cattle from these regions seen in the south in the short term. Feed conditions in the majority of the pastoral regions continues to be reported a reasonable.

Saleyard numbers increased this week with Muchea the largest of the three weekly sales. The possibility of green feed in the near future should have a negative affect on the numbers of locally bred cattle seen in the market, but this should be offset by an increase in pastoral supplies. There were again only limited supplies of heavy weight steers in physical market. Heavy weight heifer volumes were moderate, while there was a slight increase in grain assisted yearlings. Cow volumes remained solid in all three markets, while young store grades continued to have a healthy representation.

Trade demand increases

Vealer supplies were again minimal as would be expected at this time of year and restricted predominately to calf weights. Local retailer and trade demand remained solid as did restocker inquiry with solid returns recorded. There was a reasonable quality and weight evident in grain assisted yearlings this week.

Local processor demand increased slightly with slight increased in values recorded throughout the weight ranges, while medium and lighter drafts continued to enjoy a solid feeder demand. Grass finished trade weight yearling supplies were limited. These also recorded a slight improvement in both trade and demand and the values paid. There continued to be a reasonable weight and quality available in local store drafts of young cattle. Medium and heavier drafts of both steers and heifers recorded a slight increase in feeder demand with dearer values recorded.

Lightweight store steers and heifers both recorded a further increase in restocker demand, which are expectant of green feed in the short term. The limited supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks realised firm to slightly dearer rates with this also the case in mature heifer classes. The cow market continued to record a solid processor demand which saw prime values increase to 151¢/kg on average.

Queensland

Larger numbers

A return to a full working week lifted total throughput at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS. Numbers across individual centres though tended to level out and in some cases, like Roma store, declined after several weeks of large sales. A combination of some rain in the supply area and the recent reduction in values generally restricted the numbers coming forward.

Overall quality across most markets was mixed and as winter draws closer the trend of young cattle dominating the selling pens continued. Buyer attendance was generally good and a few extra restocker buyers were present in the buying panel at the Roma store sale. However at a number of markets not all export processors were active.

Values for young cattle experienced a wide variation in price depending on quality as buyers become more selective. Calves returning to the paddock averaged 9¢/kg better and vealer steers also met strong competition from restockers. Vealer heifers to slaughter struggled at times with most close to the reduced levels of recent weeks. However local butchers at Warwick lifted values by 10¢/kg on a relatively small sample of top end quality lines. Prices for medium and heavy weight feeder categories turned around to regain some of the losses. Competition was subdued at markets early in the week however as the week progressed prices averaged 5¢ to 10¢/kg better.

Virtually no heavy steers and bullocks were penned at the early week markets nevertheless by mid and late week sales the general shortfall in supply lifted processor demand and average prices gained 6¢ to 8¢/kg. Cows experienced a similar trend however price improvements were confined to 1¢ to 2¢/kg.

Values generally dearer

Calves returning to the paddock averaged 9¢ dearer 218¢ with a few pens to 248.2¢/kg. The vast majority of the vealer steers also returned to the paddock at an average of 217¢ with sales to 235.2¢/kg. A large selection of vealer heifers sold to local and southern processors at 189¢ with some to local butchers at 219.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers at 212¢ with a few to 228.2¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers to feed averaged 192¢, while the better condition lines averaged 200¢ with sales to 207.2¢/kg. Heavy feeders mostly sold around 185¢ with a few pens to 197.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed and the local trade market averaged 181¢ with some to slaughter at 208.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged just under 174¢ with some to 179¢/kg. Bullocks also averaged close to 174¢ to be 8¢ dearer with sales to 181.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 2¢ better at 120¢, and 3 scores lifted 3¢ to average 129¢/kg. Good heavy cows managed to average 1¢ dearer at 142¢ the occasional pen to 160.2¢/kg. Heavy bulls made to 176.2¢ with a fair sample at 150¢/kg.

South Australia

Smaller yardings

Cattle numbers fell at the three operating sales after last week’s lower prices that were paid. The SA LE had mixed quality runs of mainly young cattle that sold to fluctuating competition from the usual trade and export buyers. Feeder orders were also active, albeit quite selective with their purchases and breeding being the main criteria. Limited numbers of vealers remained basically unchanged. The C3 yearling steers were dearer, while B-muscled sales tended to ease. Feeder purchases of the steers were quite erratic. Limited numbers of yearling heifers were dearer to the trade, with C2 lightweight sales to feeder cheaper. Cow prices remained quite stable as most to processors.

Naracoorte’s smaller yarding after a week off due to the new roof construction will see no sale being held next week as the building continues. It was a very mixed quality yarding that sold to steady trade and export competition from most of the usual SA and Victorian buyers at generally lower levels, with only isolated sales being dearer. Feeder and restocker orders were also active and were able to lower their prices.

Mt. Gambier’s smaller yarding for the first sale in a fortnight contained very mixed quality runs of young cattle and grown steers, while cow quality was quite good overall despite some very plain quality dairy cows being yarded. Most of the usual SA and Victorian buyers were present and operating, albeit at times struggling to source enough killable young cattle. The sale tended to recoup some of the previous sale’s lost ground.

Mixed results

There were mixed results for cattle producers due to the varying quality offered and some limited trade and export competition. Vealer steers to the trade and some local butcher inquiry sold from 200¢ to 230¢/kg at unchanged prices. Feeders and restockers purchased C muscled steers from 170¢ to 210¢/kg at lower levels. Vealer heifers to the trade sold mainly between 188¢ and 221¢ with an isolated sale at 238¢, to be unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. Yearling steer C2 and C3 medium and heavy yearling steers to wholesalers sold from 165¢ to 210¢ at prices 2¢ to 10¢/kg more. Feeder purchases on increased numbers were generally from 160¢ to 205¢/kg at mainly dearer levels. Yearling heifer C3 sales were between 165¢ and 205¢, or 5¢ to 19¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers in mainly 2 score condition sold from 160¢ to 192¢ to be 10¢ to 20¢ dearer and averaging 330¢/kg cwt. Grown heifers sold mainly from 142¢ to 184¢ to be 7¢ to 20¢/kg dearer. The beef cows attracted prices from 112¢ to 144¢, or unchanged to 4¢ dearer and generally 240¢ to 285¢/kg cwt. Restockers paid from 105¢ to 138¢ for 1 and 2 score beef cows.

New South Wales

Mixed quality

Supply increased across most yards with total throughput up 23% at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS when compared to the public holiday effected markets last week. Going against the trend was Wagga and Forbes with Wagga numbers down by around half. Supply though was 32% down on the corresponding week last year.

The regular panel of buyers was present with many providing increased competition to secure their supplies. There was also the return of southern orders at both Gunnedah and CTLX.

After the cheaper trend that has been evident lately, prices for young cattle were firm to dearer however there were some lines that were dealt further price reductions. The EYCI though has regained some of the falls of recent weeks, particularly earlier on in the week. At the completion of Thursday’s markets the EYCI was 374¢, a gain of 7.50¢/kg cwt on week ago levels.

Grown steers were in much smaller numbers and this was a factor behind them climbing 8¢ to 22¢/kg with the 0 and 2 tooth heavy steers and bullocks receiving the greatest gains. Cows also lifted 1¢ to 8¢/kg to processors as those to restockers were cheaper.

Quality was again mixed with some of the young cattle starting to lose condition. Even though the approaching winter conditions are having an effect on paddock feed and subsequent cattle quality, there still remained runs of high yielding finished cattle.

Young cattle accounted for 60% of the states throughput and to be expected for this time of year, the majority were vealers. Following the recent trend, just over 55% of the grown cattle were cows.

Prices improving

Light vealer steers to restockers mostly made from 205¢ to 210¢ after reaching 260¢/kg. The large numbers of medium weights returning to the paddock made mostly from 189¢ to 255¢ to be up to 7¢/kg dearer. Processors paid from 210¢ to 220¢/kg for medium and heavy weight vealer steers. Most of the medium weight vealer heifers were purchased by processors in the early 200¢/kg range. Those secured by restockers mostly made from 170¢ to 215¢/kg. The majority of the light yearling steers went to restockers around 201¢ to be slightly cheaper while the medium and heavy weights to feeders were fully firm in making from 185¢ to 194¢/kg. The C3 medium weights to the trade averaged 198¢ as the heavy weights lifted 7¢ to sell closer to 194¢/kg. The lightweight yearling heifers to restockers also improved 6¢ while the medium weights to feed climbed 7¢/kg. The trade paid from 160¢ to 178¢ for medium and heavy weights, which was 1¢ to 11¢/kg dearer.

Heavy grown steers mostly made from 142¢ to 202¢/kg. There were only a few bullocks offered with most selling from 163¢ to 181¢/kg. Medium D3 cows improved 8¢ to 131¢ as the heavy cows were 5¢ to 7¢ better and ranging from 136¢ to 140¢/kg.

Victoria

Supply increases

After the much reduced public holiday affected yardings last week, all markets operated and supply increased 75%. Most markets reported by MLA’s NLRS recorded greater throughput except for Ballarat, Pakenham which declined 16% and 50% respectively. The smaller yarding at Pakenham was generally due to producers withholding cattle following the recent cheaper prices. After no market last week, Leongatha was the largest yarding. In comparison to this week last year, yardings were down 30%.

Grown cattle accounted for 70% of the cattle offered with cows dominating. The young cattle were almost evenly split between the vealers and the yearlings.

Quality has remained mixed, ranging from poor quality through to over-conditioned lines particularly in the cows, through to finished cattle that had been supplementary fed suitable for slaughter. This trend is expected to continue as winter approaches. Warrnambool though was of improved quality compared to the sale a fortnight ago and was most noticeable on the yearlings with many being supplementary fed.

Prices have started to regain some of the losses incurred recently particularly those to slaughter orders. Vealers were firm to 15¢ dearer while yearlings were 5¢ to 11¢/kg dearer. An improved trend has also been evident across the other states and is highlighted by the EYCI climbing 7.50¢ on last week to finish Thursday on 374¢/kg cwt.

Dearer prices

Medium weight C muscle vealer steers to the trade mostly made from 202¢ to 208¢ as the B muscle lots generally made around 234¢/kg. The few to restockers and feeders sold from 208¢ to 234¢/kg. Heavy B and C muscle vealer steers made from 206¢ to 225¢/kg. The medium and heavy vealer heifers to the trade ranged from 186¢ to 218¢/kg with most carrying plenty of weight. Heavy yearling steers to slaughter gained 7¢ to average 199¢ after making to 226.6¢kg. Heavy C3 yearling heifers were 11¢ dearer at 189¢, while the plainer end gained 16¢ to average 196¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers held firm around 186¢ as the heavy C3s in large numbers gained 11¢ to average 192¢/kg. The bullocks generally made around 188¢ to be up to 13¢/kg dearer. There were also a few heavy bullocks yarded that sold in the mid 180¢/kg range. Medium D3 beef cows improved 8¢ to 137¢ as the heavy D4s gained 4¢ to average 141¢/kg. The better end of the medium weight dairy cows improved 4¢ to average 115¢/kg. Heavy dairy cows made to 148.6¢ with most making form 104¢ to 146¢/kg.

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