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Weekly Cattle Summary

07 December 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

Trade demand remains conservative

Unseasonal weather conditions were again experienced in much of the southern land division again with wide spread thunderstorm activity bringing rainfall. There were isolated areas of localised flooding.

The increased moisture levels again interrupted harvest activity and with most areas outside of south coastal regions now having hayed off, there was little or no benefit to pastures in the majority or regions.

Conditions in the north remain varied with a slow start to the wet in the far north, while the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions continue to record sporadic thunderstorm activity.

Quality improved

Saleyard numbers generally increased this week. This was due to improved supplies recorded at Muchea with both the southwest and Great Southern vealer yardings improving. Both of these market’s trade sales however remained limited in supplies.

Muchea recorded slightly higher numbers of pastoral cattle this week.

Quality was generally plain with most lacking weight and condition. Heavy weight local steer, bullock and heifer sales remained tight, while local trade weight yearling numbers were again only moderate as southern producers continue to use direct-to-works as their preferred sales option to the detriment of physical markets. Vealer weight and quality from local agricultural districts has shown a steady increase with the introduction of the annual vealer sales.

Feeder and grazier activity remains buoyant with reasonable demand levels and values recorded, particularly in sales using a non-curfew system. Trade weight yearling steers and heifers continued to record a conservative local trade inquiry and this again allowed feeders and restockers access to the market with little overall change recorded in prices.

Heavy weight steers realised an improved trade demand that created dearer values on the limited supplies with their heavy weight heifer counterparts once again difficult to sell. Processor demand for cows declined once again, while restocker demand on plainer conditioned and store grades remained reasonable.


Numbers back

Numbers were lower at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS with the majority of selling centres recording lower throughput week-on-week. Ballarat was the only centre to increase with supply more than doubling.

Pakenham had the largest reduction in supply back 42 per cent with both the grown and young cattle markets lower week-on-week. Leongatha fell 21 per cent and Bairnsdale numbers almost halved. Camperdown was 44 per cent lower as cold wet conditions affected supply and Warrnambool throughput decreased 6 per cent.

Wodonga’s throughput was 20 per cent lower and Shepparton experienced a 20 per cent reduction in supply. There was a relatively even supply of vealers and yearlings with both steers and heifers well represented.

Heavy weight grown steers and bullocks were in good supply with the majority falling into the C3 and C4 category. Cows across all weights were well represented with well-conditioned heavyweights in good numbers. Heavy bulls also were well represented.

Quality varies

Quality across the majority of the markets remains mixed with plenty of secondary lines available. There were some good quality young cattle penned at Pakenham and Wodonga. There was also an improvement to the overall young cattle quality at Leongatha and Shepparton.

A substantial number of grown steers and heifers were yarded at Bairnsdale. All the regular trade and export buyers were in attendance with some markets reporting additional competition. Restockers and feeders were slightly more active in comparison to last week however well below the levels usually seen at this time of year.

Prices improve

The majority of the price categories improve especially for the well-conditioned portion. Heavy B2 vealers steers were 2¢ higher to top at 216¢ and average 193¢/kg. The C3 vealers heifers were 6¢ higher on 166¢ to top at 198¢/kg.

Medium C3 yearling steers to the trade improved 8¢ to 185¢ and the heavy weights gained 2¢ to 177¢/kg. Heavy yearling heifers settled 5¢ higher on 151¢/kg.

Heavy C4 grown heifers made 150¢ to be 8¢ higher, while heavy C4 steers were firm on 165¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows were 2¢ higher on 120¢, while the heavy D4’s were also 2¢ higher on 122¢/kg. Heavy weight C2 bulls settled on 140¢ to be 9¢/kg higher.

New South Wales

Supply lifts

NSW lamb supply as reported by MLA’s NLRS increased 8 per cent week-on-week. CTLX and Forbes increased throughput 9 per cent and 24 per cent respectively. Wagga lifted supply 38 per cent, while Dubbo registered a decrease of 34 per cent. Goulburn and Tamworth supply was relatively firm.

NSW sheep supply was 20 per cent higher week-on-week, with the majority of centres recording an increase in levels. Forbes was the only market to record a decrease of 29 per cent week-on-week.

Increased restocker activity

New season lambs were mostly dry in the skin, however those holding more condition sold to stronger demand. Restockers were successful at Tamworth on plain light lambs. Processors were active at most markets however increased restocker activity helped to underpin prices. Domestic processors and wholesale buyers purchased well-finished lambs.

Mutton quality was mixed, with all weights and grades represented. Demand strengthened at Wagga due to strong northern competition. Skin values varied with seed contamination contributing in places.


Numbers retreat

A combination of the selling program drawing to a close and hot dry weather affecting the travel of western cattle, reduced supply by close to 45 per cent. Overall quality was very mixed with the yarding at the Roma store sale reportedly average to very plain.

There was a slip in the standard at Dalby most noticeably in the grown steer and bullock portion. Buyer attendance was generally good in both the young cattle and export sections.

Young cattle prices reduce

Values for young cattle struggled with a small drop in quality resulting in a large reduction in price. The better end of the calves to restockers made to 220¢ however poor condition lines averaged in the 150¢ to 160¢/kg range.

A large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 191¢ with sales to 208.2¢/kg. Medium weights to feed experienced a wide variation in price due to quality with a fair sample at 178¢ with sales to 200¢/kg. Heavyweights to feed also averaged 178¢ and sold to 188.2¢/kg.

Well presented lightweight yearling heifers sold in the 190¢/kg range, nevertheless D muscle lines were extremely well supplied and averaged 161¢/kg. Heavyweights to feed and slaughter improved in value by 6¢ to 7¢/kg due to feeder support, with most sales in the early 170¢/kg range, while a few to the trade made to 193.2¢/kg.

Grown cattle prices mixed

Heavy steers and bullocks met good demand early in the week however by midweek a drop in the overall standard and less competition saw average prices ease. Bullocks in the 3 score range at Dalby averaged 160¢ while the better classes averaged 177¢ with the very occasional sale to 186.2¢/kg.

Cows generally sold firm to stronger competition across all markets. Medium weight 2 scores averaged close to 120¢, while 3 scores made 132¢/kg. A fair selection of good heavy cows averaged 4¢ dearer at 146¢ with a few sales into the 160¢/kg range.

South Australia

Smaller yardings

There have been smaller numbers yarded despite the SA LE’s slightly increased yarding of local and pastoral bred lines that contained mainly young cattle. There was lower competition from the usual trade and export buyers, while feeder orders were active at reduced levels, on the much dearer prices paid last week. Light and medium weight yearling steers to feeder activity were around 20¢ lower, while trade purchases of C3 steers also lost ground, as did the yearling heifers.

Naracoorte’s numbers fell to just over 1,000 head as mixed quality runs sold to soft trade and export competition from a small number of regular SA and Victorian buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were also active at fluctuating prices on mainly young cattle. The B muscled vealers were cheaper as all sales fell back below 195¢/kg. Vealer heifers and yearling steers were basically unchanged, while yearling heifers fluctuated. Grown steers and bullocks were dearer, with grown heifers losing further ground.

Mt. Gambier’s slightly smaller reasonably good quality yarding also sold to selective competition from most of the regular buyers, with vealer heifers selling quite erratically despite being of similar quality at times. Apart from isolated sales of vealers that were dearer, most of the heifers were cheaper. A few C3 grown steers were slightly dearer, while heavy C4 sales were cheaper due to the limited buying power as most sales dropped back below 300¢/kg cwt.

Millicent increased yarding sold to lower trade and export competition, with young cattle making up the largest percentage for their penultimate sale.

Erratic trends

The B muscled vealers to Victorian wholesalers sold from 170¢ to 215¢, with the B2 sales 2¢ to 3¢/kg dearer. The C2 and C3 sales were between 155¢ and 189¢ at basically unchanged prices, as were feeder and restocker purchases that ranged between 155¢ and 185¢/kg.

Vealer heifer sales fluctuated from 1¢ to 7¢ dearer and unchanged to 6¢ cheaper, as most sold from 145¢ to 208¢ with a lightweight B muscled sale at the higher end. Yearling steer C3 and B muscle heavyweights sold from 150¢ to 182¢/kg at unchanged prices. Feeders and restocker purchases of C1 and C2 steers were between 136¢ and 170¢/kg. The C3 and C4 medium and heavyweight yearling heifers sold from 130¢ to 180¢/kg.

Grown steer C3 sales were 3¢ dearer, while heavy C4 bullocks were 4¢ cheaper as most sold from 150¢ to 173¢/kg. The 2 to 5 score medium and heavy beef cows sold from 78¢ to 126¢ with isolated sales marginally dearer.

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