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Weekly Cattle Summary

09 November 2012
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Western Australia

Northern turnoff almost finished

As would be expected at this time of year conditions in the north remain hot with wide spread but sporadic thunderstorm activity reported. The hot conditions continue to wind down mustering activity in the north with the season for these cattle now all but over.

Conditions in the southwest traditional cattle areas recorded a boost in seasonal conditions with solid rainfall recorded early in the week and this should add longevity to the green feed supplies in these areas, while forecasts have predicted that there could be further light rainfall across the weekend and into the early parts of next week. Hay production has all but been completed in the south with reasonable yields and conditions again reported.

Greater supply although trade cattle remain limited

Cattle numbers were slightly larger than the previous week with Muchea remaining the largest of the three weekly sales, while the southwest sale remained small with Great Southern yarding larger numbers this week. Muchea’s yarding was again dominated by solid pastoral cattle supplies with these again generally of plain condition and very mixed quality.

Local heavy weight steer and heifer supplies remained tight with fair volumes of trade yearlings available. Vealer numbers continue to increase and moderate cow supplies were available. Demand from the trade remained conservative this week throughout the majority of slaughter classes with all processors continuing to report very solid levels of supply being directed to their works with the spring flush in the south now in full swing.

Bidding remains conservative

Heavy weight steer and heifer prices eased marginally, while trade weight yearlings continued to see a similar and firm demand from the local trade and feeder sectors. Vealers continued to be predominately of light and medium weight with these recording a slightly weaker feeder and restocker demand. The cow market continued to record a conservative processor demand with prices slightly lower overall than the previous week.


Cattle supply down following rain

This week has seen some solid rainfall across much of the state and warm temperatures beneficial to pasture growth. This coupled with the Melbourne cup festivities and recent lower prices has almost halved the number of cattle drawn into MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards.

Yardings at both Pakenham and Leongatha both reduced by over 60 per cent, while Shepparton saw a 36 per cent reduction and Wodonga contracted by 46 per cent. Colac and Camperdown also reduced while the remainder saw increased yardings, although off a low base, which did little to affect total supply.

Quality varied

Quality was mixed however young cattle were generally of poorer quality whereas the grown cattle were of better quality to last week. The classes of cattle penned were similar except for there being a larger selection of bulls and yearling steers yarded. Manufacturing steers were in similar numbers to last week.

Most of the regular export and domestic buyers were present and active. The lower supply ensured good competition amongst buyers however trends still reflected quality with many sales being cheaper.

Most categories cheaper

With the mixed quality offered, young cattle classes tended to ease in price. Feeder and restocker buyers helped to improve prices for steers and heifers. Vealer steers reduced by 16¢ to 198¢, with vealer heifers also meeting lower demand, selling 3¢ cheaper at 191¢/kg. Yearling steers reduced by 2¢ to settle on 187¢ on the back of increased supply, while the heifer portion increased 4¢ to 173¢/kg. Bullocks held firm to finish on 180¢, while cow prices reduced 3¢ to 124¢/kg.

New South Wales

Cattle supply falls

NSW cattle supply at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS decreased 17 per cent week-on-week. The majority of markets supply reduced, with Gunnedah and Dubbo recording the largest losses of 37 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. CTLX throughput was 20 per cent lower, while Forbes supply decreased 22 per cent. Singleton, Tamworth and Wagga also recorded slight declines in throughput, while Scone and Inverell were the only centres to strengthen supplies.

Young cattle quality improves

Despite reports of young cattle quality waning in previous weeks, there were some good runs of prime conditioned young cattle offered around most centres, however some were still of plainer quality. With forecast rain extra feeder and restocker orders were present and competing alongside regular processors and supermarket orders. This aided the young cattle market to improve. Export cattle at Wagga sold to weak southern processors demand, there were some well-conditioned cows penned in the northern tablelands markets of Tamworth and Armidale.

Extra feeder and restocker buyers boost prices

Heavy calves to restockers were 26¢ higher on 208¢/kg. Medium weight vealer steers to restocker buyers were 21¢ dearer on 207¢, while medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter lifted 5¢ to average 206¢/kg. Light weight yearling steers to restockers were 9¢ higher on 188¢, while medium weight yearling steers to feed increased 7¢ to settle on 182¢/kg. Light weight yearling heifers to restockers were 15¢ stronger on 170¢, while medium weight yearling heifers to feeder buyers lifted 8¢ average 167¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers to slaughter gained 3¢ to 177¢ while light weight grown heifers also increased 3¢ to 156¢/kg. Medium weight cows to processors orders lost 1¢ to 131¢, while heavy weight cow classes were around 1¢ higher on 140¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers increasing

Numbers fell at the SA LE with the previous week’s lower prices reducing supply. Naracoorte’s throughput increased while Mt. Gambier’s numbers fell slightly, while Millicent had a larger yarding for its fortnightly sale.

Quality was mixed and tended to sell to fluctuating competition from the usual trade and export buyers. Prime quality cattle attracted stronger demand however any cattle lacking finish were discounted heavily. There were limited numbers of vealers penned with most selling to feeder activity.

Lower prices

It has been a week of easing prices mainly due to so many cattle being booked in direct as this state’s season tightens, with little or no rain expected over the next few weeks.

The B-muscled vealer steers to the trade sold from 185¢ to 220¢ to be averaging 10¢/kg less. The C-muscled steers sold from 165¢ to 212¢/kg, with C3 sales slightly dearer. Feeders sourced mainly lightweight steers from 165¢ to 208¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade sold between 150¢ and 219¢, to range anywhere from 2¢ to 30¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steer C3 sales were from 150¢ to 197¢ at prices unchanged to 8¢/kg less. Increased numbers of C2 steers to feeder activity were from 140¢ to 190¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights sold between 130¢ and 186¢, or 1¢ to 8¢/kg less.

Grown steer and bullock C3 and C4 sales were from 140¢ to 189¢, to be averaging 3¢ less and generally 290¢ to 335¢/kg cwt. Most grown heifers sold from 110¢ to 162¢ at prices averaging 11¢/kg lower. The 2 to 5 score medium and heavy beef cows sold from 78¢ to 132¢ to be 4¢ to 11¢ cheaper, and mainly 225¢ to 255¢/kg cwt.


Waiting for rain

Hot dry weather increased supply at Warwick and numbers at the Roma store sale lifted to normal levels following the disruption to supply the previous week by scatted rainfall across the region. However some centres recorded smaller numbers as producers hold cattle in anticipation of further rain.

The quality of young cattle remains mixed while the overall standard of the grown cattle was generally good particularly in the bullock section at Dalby.

Active buying of young cattle

Buyer representation for the young cattle was generally good at most centres, while a reduced number of export buyers operated at markets early in the week. Nevertheless by mid week all the major export operators were back in the market and operating. Apart from a small number of good vealers and lightweight yearlings suitable for the domestic market receiving strong demand, all classes of young cattle eased in price at early week markets.

Demand and quality crucial

Vealer heifers across all markets gained 6¢ to average 190¢, while most in the south of the state made over 200¢ with sales to 215.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade experienced a large variation in price to sell from 168.2¢ to 209.2¢/kg with weight and condition very crucial to the price achieved.

The forecast of some rain by mid week lifted restocker enthusiasm and lightweight yearling steers improved in price to average 207¢ with sales to 230.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed were well supplied and buyers were able to absorb the increased supply plus maintain average prices at 187¢ with a few pens to 197¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks early in the week received very lacklustre demand, while the return to a full buying panel mid week lifted prices. Both heavy steers and bullocks mostly sold at 180¢ with pen lots to just under 190¢/kg. Cows followed a similar trend to improve as the week progressed. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 2¢ dearer at 123¢, and 3 scores averaged 131¢/kg. A fair supply of good heavy cows mostly sold around 146¢/kg.

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