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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

19 April 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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


Supply decreases, more buyers on hand

Overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell by 16 per cent week-on-week. Numbers at Longreach and the Roma prime sale were less than half the previous weeks level, however Dalby went against this trend with an increase of 16 per cent .

Mixed quality lines of young cattle continue to dominate the selling pens with some large consignments from North-West parts of Queensland. Buyer representation in the young cattle sections was generally good and included a large panel of restocker buyers. Export processor attendance was erratic with some absent from the buying panel at markets early in the week, nevertheless, by mid week sales all operators were present and active.

Despite the large buying group prices continued to fall for most slaughter and feeder descriptions, however young lightweight yearling steers generally continued to receive strong support from restockers.

Mostly a cheaper trend

A good run of vealer steers returned to the paddock at 198c with one large consignment reaching 207¢/kg. Two buyers battled to purchase one outstanding vealer steer with show ring potential to pay 580¢/kg to return $1527/head.

Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock mostly sold around 184c with sales to 200c/kg.

Vealer heifers to processors sold to a cheaper trend to average 9¢ less at 156¢, while a selected few to local butchers improved in price to average 196¢ with sales to 213¢/kg.

Medium weight C2 yearling steers to feed lost 10¢ to average 165¢, while heavyweights generally sold in the late 150¢ to early 160¢/kg range. The better end of the lightweight yearling heifers averaged around 150¢, while medium weight D muscle lines averaged 130¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers to export slaughter lost 4¢ to average 161¢ with some to the wholesale meat trade at 178¢/kg. A fair sample of bullocks averaged 4¢ less at 161¢ with a few pens to 167¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 3¢ cheaper at 98¢ and 3 scores lost 6¢ to average 116¢/kg. Good heavy cows also fell in prices by 8¢ to average 125¢, with the occasional sale to 147.2¢/kg.


Numbers retreat

Total cattle throughput across the state declined as much as 4 per cent with the majority of NLRS reported saleyards recording fewer numbers. Bairnsdale, Colac and Camperdown yarded similar numbers week-on-week, while Shepparton and Warrnambool were back 20 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

Pakenham and Wodonga were the only selling centres to report an increase in throughput, up 35 per cent and 10 per cent , with the rise due to an influx of secondary lines. Leongatha yarded 4 per cent fewer cattle with secondary lines still in large numbers across the young cattle categories.

Plain cattle dominate

Across the state, quality cattle are becoming harder to source due to the prolonged dry conditions experienced through most regions. The usual buyers were present and operating at most markets, although at reduced levels.

The lack of available feed has seen restockers and feeder buyers hesitant across all markets despite most young cattle being suitable for their operations. Plain secondary lines continue to flow through all markets with most being discounted.

There are several well finished lines scattered through Pakenham, Warrnambool and Wodonga, although processors have also taken a wait and see approach to purchasing with ample numbers reportable heading direct-to-works.

Prices slip across all categories

Medium yearling steers to feed sold 5¢ dearer on average making 165¢, while heavy weight C3’s to slaughter topped at 223¢ to average around 199¢/kg. The majority of the heifer portion were heavy weights with heavy B muscled lines topping at 212¢, however most C2 lines averaged close to 169¢, back 9¢/kg.

Medium yearling steers to feed averaged close to last weeks levels, making 161¢, while heavy weight sold 11¢ cheaper averaging 162¢/kg. The C3 heavy yearling steers to slaughter averaged 174¢/kg.

Yearling heifers to feed and slaughter sold 3¢ and 4¢ cheaper on last week, while the better quality 500kg to 600kg grown steers averaged 172¢, back 9¢ week-on-week. Medium weight dairy cows were up to 20¢ cheaper across most grades, while heavy weight beef cows sold from 90¢ to 139¢/kg.

Western Australia

Promising seasonal conditions

Conditions in the far north of WA remain fair with temperatures moderating and mustering having now started. Eastern parts of the Pilbara and Gascoyne remain tight, while conditions in the southern districts again enjoyed light rainfall.

This rainfall, although light, was widespread and has added longevity to what has thus far been the best start to a growing season seen in southern WA for many years, with forecasts predicting further light falls into next week. Pasture growth continues to be aided by moisture levels and more moderate temperatures, but supplementary feeding remains in many regions. Calving activity in the south continues to increase.

Store cattle continue to dominate southern yardings

Next week sees the closure of the states largest export works for maintenance, however this will reopen the following week with physical markets also interrupted by the Thursday public holiday. Physical market numbers this week remained similar, despite the southwest and Great Southern sales having lower numbers, this was offset by Muchea’s increased numbers. The increase in Muchea’s numbers was due to larger supplies from pastoral regions.

Heavy and trade weight prime local cattle numbers remained limited. Young store classes were reasonable and accounted for the largest numbers in the two regional sales with cow numbers moderate. The small supplies of finished grass or grain assisted yearlings in physical markets realised similar local trade and retailer demand.

The store market enjoyed a generally stronger demand and competition from both the restocker and feeder sectors with prices at dearer levels. The limited supplies of heavy weight steers and mature heifers were of mixed quality this week, with limited change in demand. The cow market recorded solid falls at all three markets throughout the classes, which, given the time of year, was not unexpected with the onset of pastoral grades with heavy weight bull prices also recorded at lower levels.

New South Wales

Consignments remain similar

On average throughout MLA NLRS markets numbers presented remained similar week-on-week. Wagga increased 10 per cent as Forbes reduced numbers by a similar percentage. Gunnedah lifted as much as 32 per cent as producers become concerned about the dryer conditions and approaching colder weather. CTLX slipped 14 per cent as Dubbo remained consistent with 3,380 penned.

The northern markets mostly yarded reduced consignments, however Casino defied the trend and lifted 30 per cent week-on-week. Weaner sales throughout the state this week are Cooma, CTLX Carcoar, Goulburn, Inverell and Glenn Innes.

Quality continues to be mixed

The majority of markets reported mixed quality yardings with large percentages of western cattle entering the competition at most central west sales. Vealer supply lifted as 25 per cent extra steers and heifers were sold, with again good numbers selling to restocker orders.

Yearlings were well supplied with only 11 per cent of the 3,929 steers penned selling to the trade and processor purchases. Around 76 per cent of yearling heifers sold to restocker and lot feeder orders. Prime conditioned grown steers and bullocks remained similar in number.

Cow numbers also remained similar with another 3,798 presented for sale this week as the bulk offered fell into the medium and heavy weight categories. Small percentages again sold to restocker orders.

Prices again eased

Younger cattle to restocker and lot feeder orders slipped another 7¢ to 8¢ as medium weight vealer steers averaged 171¢/kg. The same weight heifer portion to processors lost 7¢/kg. Heavy weight vealers to the butchers sold to strong competition as well muscled pens reached 223¢/kg.

Yearling steers slipped 3¢ to 10¢ to restocker and lot feeder orders as butchers and processors adjusted their prices lower by 5¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feeders and restockers lost 4¢ to 7¢ as heavy weights to butchers eased 8¢ to average 153¢/kg. Prime heavy weight steers to slaughter lost anywhere from 3¢ to 12¢ before the best reached 184¢, however most sold around the 155¢ to 163¢/kg range.

The older heifers also struggled in the competition to sell cheaper. Cows suffered another correction to slip 7¢ to 13¢/kg. The plainer middle weighted 2 scores averaged 88¢ as the better covered medium and heavy weights ranged from 70¢ to 131¢/kg. An exceptional B muscled cow topped at 159¢/kg.

South Australia

Supply lifts

Another week of virtually no rainfall has led to many cattle producers being forced to sell unfinished stock, with some attracting limited competition. The SA LE’s larger improved quality yarding sold to a mainly easing trend to the usual trade and export buyers.

This was despite some excellent quality consignments of heavyweight supplementary fed yearlings being yarded. Feeder orders were also active on suitable yearling steers and heifers. A larger yarding of medium and heavy beef cows were unchanged to 3¢/kg cheaper.

Naracoorte’s numbers increased in mixed quality runs featuring local and increased numbers of pastoral bred cattle with the cows showing signs of poor seasonal conditions. The usual trade and export buyers were very selective with a run of excellent quality supplementary feds from Loxton attracting the strongest demand. Feeder purchases were generally dearer before losing ground when some well-bred pastoral bred vealers were sold.

Mt. Gambier’s smaller mixed quality yarding sold to a generally weaker trend, with only isolated young cattle sales, together with a small yarding of grown steers and bullocks being dearer.

Millicent’s similar numbered fortnightly sale also sold to lower competition from most of the usual buyers, and has prompted agents to hold the next sale in three weeks.

Prices continue to retreat

It has been another week of generally retreating prices, with only isolated sales dearer where quality suited the usual trade and export buyers.

The B-muscled vealer steers in limited numbers sold from 172¢ to 202¢ with a single at 220¢, or 10¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders sourced most light and medium weights steers from 105¢ to 171¢ at prices mainly 3¢ to 13¢ cheaper, with some sales averaging 12¢/kg more. Vealer heifer C2 and C3 sales ranged from 110¢ to 205¢, with C3 medium weights 4¢ dearer, while being 24¢/kg cheaper for the lightweights.

B-muscled yearling steers ranged from 180¢ to 200¢ with the C3 medium weights 159¢ to 195¢/kg. Feeder purchases of C1 and C2 steers were from 130¢ to 182¢ at prices unchanged to 5¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights sold between 135¢ and 202¢, or 4¢ to 9¢/kg less.

Grown steers sold from 140¢ to 190¢ at prices unchanged to 8¢/kg cheaper. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 60¢ to 127¢, or 3¢ to 20¢/kg cheaper.

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