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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

16 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).

New South Wales

Throughput Lifts

Consignments at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS increased 34 per cent. Gunnedah’s throughput more than double as unexpected scattered rainfall across the supply area enticed producers to offload stock.

CTLX and Dubbo both recorded large increases of 52 per cent and 61 per cent respectively as good numbers of grown steers were present at both yards. Secondary lines of yearling steers and heifers made up the largest portion of the yarding assisting in a rise of 26 per cent. Forbes increased 18 per cent with larger numbers of supplementary fed cattle available.

The only selling centre to record a decline was Inverell back 12 per cent although good runs of yearling steers and heifers were available despite the decline.

Quality Remains Unfinished

The majority of cattle yarded continued to be plain across markets although supplementary fed lines were present at Casino, Scone, Singleton and Forbes. Secondary lines of young cattle were available at Inverell, CTLX and Dubbo, as the drier weather conditions continue to affect quality.

Tamworth had less competition from feeder buyers, while increased competition from restockers at Gunnedah helped prices for secondary lines improve. The usual buyers were present at all other selling centres.

Prices Firm to Slightly Dearer

Prices were firm to slightly dearer across all categories, despite some quality related fluctuations. Medium vealer steers were 3¢ stronger on 207¢ while the heifer portion sold from 150¢ to 218¢ to average 201¢/kg.

Light yearling steers returning to the paddock lifted 4¢ on 192¢ while medium C2’s to feed were relatively unchanged on 184¢/kg. Heavy weights to feed topped at 190¢ to average 182¢/kg. Light yearling heifers were cheaper finishing ion 166¢ while slaughter orders paid 178¢ on average, up 1¢/kg.

Heavy grown C3 steers to slaughter were relatively unchanged on 178¢, while the light C3 heifers made from 143¢ to 184¢/kg. Medium D3 cows topped at 134¢, up 3¢, while heavy D4 lines were unchanged on 141¢/kg.

South Australia

Increased Yardings

While numbers remained similar on mixed quality runs at the SA LE, Naracoorte’s numbers increased with improved quality runs, while Mt. Gambier’s yarding also lifted. After reverting back to weekly markets, Millicent yarded slightly less week-on-week.

The SA LE’s young cattle sold to fluctuating trade and export demand, with some sales dearer to feeder activity. Grown heifers and cows were also generally dearer on the previous week’s lower prices.

Naracoorte’s increased yarding contained local and pastoral bred cattle over a wide range of weights and quality. Despite the improved quality producers would have been concerned at the drop in prices. Over the past fortnight vealer prices have retreated by 30¢ to 40¢/kg for both steers and heifers. The B and C muscled yearling steers are selling below 185¢, with yearling heifers losing the most as some C4 sales fell below 140¢/kg. Grown steer prices have also decreased.

Mt. Gambier’s larger yarding was not immune to the lower prices being paid with processing space now at a premium, and many cows being put in the paddock for a week or so before slaughter. With only B muscled vealer steers being slightly dearer, all other categories lost ground.

Millicent’s yarding sold to a limited number of regular buyers at generally lower levels, with only prime vealer heifers recouping some of the previous week’s cheaper prices.

Most categories cheaper

With the increased numbers being yarded and booked direct-to-works, processors were able to lower their prices on most categories with only isolated sales being dearer.

The B muscled vealer steers over a wide range of weights sold to Victorian wholesale competition from 182¢ to 214¢, at prices 5¢/kg less. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C and B muscled mainly lightweight vealer steers from 170¢ to 210¢/kg.

Vealer heifers to the trade sold mainly from 145¢ to 200¢/kg. Yearling steer C3 and B muscled medium and heavyweights sold from 157¢ to 196¢ to be unchanged to 6¢/kg less. Increased C2 sales to feeder and restocker activity ranged from 145¢ to 189¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights sold from 138¢ to 183¢ to be 2¢ to 5¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers and bullocks were 5¢ to 10¢ cheaper, as most sold from 150¢ to 189¢/kg and averaging close to 300¢/kg cwt. Beef manufacturing steers sold from 115¢ to 162¢, with Friesian steers from 112¢ to 143¢/kg. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 100¢ to 136¢ at prices generally unchanged to 3¢/kg dearer, or 220¢ to 255¢/kg cwt.


Yardings greater

Cattle yardings at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS were higher week-on-week with numbers almost doubling due to cancellations of some markets throughout the state last week on the occasion of the Melbourne cup. Despite the increase, numbers remain below the corresponding week last year with an 11 per cent reduction in supply.

Wodonga yarded the most cattle throughout the state with both young and grown numbers increasing substantially. Shepparton’s supply doubled, while Pakenham’s young and grown sales were higher. The majority of other markets also recorded larger supplies apart for Warrnambool, Bairnsdale and Ballarat, all with a reduction in throughput.

Greater Restocker and Feeder Activity

The majority of the usual processor and export buyers were in attendance and active across most markets. There was an increase in attendance of restocker and feeder buyers at select sales with feeders active at Wodonga and restockers securing a large portion of the medium weight vealer lines.

Quality of young cattle remains mixed with secondary lines in large numbers. Cow quality remains strong with the majority being well-conditioned heavy weight D3 and D4 beef cows. Heavy weight dairy breeds were also in solid supply.

Vealers Cheaper

Despite slightly stronger competition, vealer prices were cheaper week-on-week with quality the main contributor to the downward price trend. Heavy vealer steers to the trade were 9¢ cheaper on 205¢ while restockers secured suitable lines to be 10¢ cheaper on 198¢/kg. Yearling steers indicated less price movement with the heavy weights to the trade back 1¢ to 182¢/kg.

Feeders paid 7¢ less with medium weight yearling steers prices settling on 171¢/kg. Heavy yearling heifers to the trade were 15¢ lower on 160¢/kg.

Heavy C3 grown steers were 3¢ cheaper on 178¢ while the bullocks made 178¢ to be 2¢/kg lower. The D3 heavy grown heifers made 145¢ to be 6¢ cheaper and the D4 portion was 3c lower on 152¢/kg. Heavy cows dominated supply, however prices improved with the D3 and D4 portion both 1¢ dearer on 132¢ and 137¢/kg respectively. Heavy bulls were firm on 149¢ to top at 160¢/kg.

Western Australia

Numbers Reduce

The continual dry hot weather conditions are limiting stock movements however pastoral cattle at Muchea dominated the yarding despite total throughput reducing by 13 per cent. Limited numbers of local yearlings were offered, while the majority of pastoral cattle were grown steers with less numbers of well-bred heifer lines available. Yearling supplies were reduced this week at Great southern as total throughput was back as much as 28 per cent despite a similar yarding of cows.

Quality Remains Mixed

The quality of pastoral cattle continues to be plain despite some well-bred lines scattered throughout the markets. At Muchea restockers and feeder buyers were competing well for light weight yearlings, while the quality of grown heifers was lacking, resulting in a price decline.

The quality of cows was similar to last week at both Muchea and Great Southern although there was increased processor competition on the heavy weight lines.

Prices Fluctuate

Due to erratic competition price trends varied at Muchea. Light weight yearling steers to feed were 5¢ lower on 197.8¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers also to feeder buyers lost 4¢ to average 181.2¢/kg. Light weight yearling pastoral heifers were 18¢ cheaper on 112.2¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers lost 24¢ to settle on 100¢/kg. Heavy weight pastoral grown steers lost 2¢ to average 107¢/kg.

Light weight cows decreased 5¢ to 70¢, while medium weight pastoral cows were 8¢ lower on 88¢/kg. Light weight bulls decreased 12¢ to average 96¢, while medium weight pastoral bulls gained 8¢ to settle on 92¢/kg.

Trade inquiry at Great Southern remained conservative with trade steer sales remaining firm on 140¢ to 176¢/kg to average 161¢/kg. Heavy weight vealer steers finished on 195¢, while the limited supplies of vealer heifers saw heavier lines make to a top of 185¢/kg to be firm on last week. Finished cows sold from 75¢ to 91¢, while plainer conditioned drafts went to restockers at prices between 95¢ and 97¢/kg.


Supply Increases

The return of the Longreach selling centre after a two week break lifted overall Queensland supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by close to 14 per cent week-on-week. However, most other centres recorded reduced numbers. Throughput was lower at the Roma store sale due to widespread rainfall and there was only a small slip in numbers at Warwick as very little rain fell across the supply area.

The overall standard of the young cattle remains mixed. The quality of the bullocks continues to be very good while larger numbers of plain classes were present in the cow sections.

Buyer Activity Improves

Buyer attendance for young cattle was generally good with increased buyer activity on vealers and lightweight yearlings at Warwick. Not all the usual export buyers were present at markets early in the week and by mid week all processors were present, however not all were operating. Prices for young cattle improved in places, nevertheless buyers were selective.

Vealer steers and heifers received stronger support from butchers as well as local and southern processors. A fair sample of vealer heifers across all markets averaged 189¢ while most in the southern half of the state averaged over 200¢, with some to 218.2¢/kg.

Mixed Price Trends

A large number of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 205¢ with a few well bred pens to 220.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed lifted in price by 3¢ to 6¢, with a fairly large number in the high 180¢/kg. Heavy feeders were also well supplied and averaged 185¢ with a number of large pens at Dalby making to 194.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed could not maintain the previous week’s levels and lost 4¢ to average 175¢/kg.

However, heavy classes to the trade went against this trend to improve 3¢ to average 174¢ with sales to185.2¢/kg. A relatively good supply of bullocks improved in prices by 2¢ to average 183¢, with a few pens to 189.2¢/kg. Bullocks over 750kg live weight were not penalised and made to 187.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows improved 4¢ to average 125¢, while good heavy cows remained close to firm at 145¢/kg.

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