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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

21 June 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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


Yardings steady

With cold conditions across most of the supply area and the end of financial year fast approaching, numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS were similar to the previous week’s high level.

Numbers at the Toowoomba markets almost doubled following the two week break in the selling program, and supply at other centres was steady to slightly higher. More frosts on the ground, combined with the traditional time of weaner turnoff, saw large numbers offered as producers tend to wean straight into the saleyards.

Heavy grown steers and bullocks remain in short supply and large numbers of plain condition cows continue to dominate the selling pens. A full gallery of buyers was present at most markets and competition was stronger across a number of classes.

Prices mostly dearer

Restocker enthusiasm generally lifted prices on young lightweight cattle by 4¢ to 10¢/kg. A large sample of calves returned to the paddock at 181¢, with sales to 210¢ and poorer quality lines averaging 136¢/kg. The good supply of vealer steers to feed and restockers averaged in the mid to high 170¢ range, with the occasional sale to 198¢/kg.

Vealer heifers to slaughter were well supplied and processors were able to absorb the larger numbers, plus lift average prices by 2¢ to 15¢, with butchers at Warwick paying to 194¢/kg. The large selection of lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 4¢ better at 178¢ and sold to 192¢/kg.

Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed averaged around 10¢ better, at 173¢ and 166¢/kg, respectively. The best of the lightweight yearling heifers averaged 151¢, while D muscle lines were in the largest numbers and averaged in the high 130¢/kg range.

The small selection of heavy grown steers averaged 161¢ and the relatively small sample of bullocks averaged 4¢ dearer at 163¢, with some supplementary fed lines to 172¢/kg. Plain condition cows continued to receive very strong processor and restocker support, with medium weight 2 scores at 96¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to an isolated 137¢, to average 2¢ dearer at 122¢/kg.

Western Australia

Seasonal conditions stable

Unseasonal wet conditions remain in many parts of the north of WA, which continues to hamper some mustering activity and have an affect on the flow of cattle to the south. Conditions in the traditional cattle growing areas of the southwest corner of WA remain solid, even though June’s rainfall has to this stage been below average.

There have also been reports of frost in the south but, despite this, feed conditions remain solid, while eastern and northern districts continue to struggle for moisture. The majority of calving activity in the south has now been finalised.

Solid falls in physical market supplies

Physical saleyard numbers fell this week, despite Muchea having improved numbers, with both the southwest and Great Southern sales seeing solid falls in their totals. Muchea’s yarding was dominated by pastoral drafts, but even these remain lower than what would normally be expected at this time of year. The volumes of prime local trade and heavy weight steer and heifer numbers remained very limited, with lower supplies of yearling store cattle which have up until now been plentiful. Cow supplies remained moderate, helped by those sourced from pastoral regions.

Solid demand

The limited supply of prime trade and heavy weight local steers and heifers enjoyed a solid and firm demand from the processing and retailer sectors, with minimal movement recorded in their averages. The quality and weight of local yearling store cattle remained mixed.

Demand from both restockers and feeders remained solid throughout the classes, with little change realised in prices. Cow demand remained solid from the processing sector in both local and pastoral categories, with averages remaining well above those advertised in the eastern states. Heavy weight bull demand showed little change under similar trade inquiry, while live exporters remained active and selective in lightweight and vealer bull classes from both local and pastoral regions.


Consignments lift across the state

Total yardings throughout Victoria lifted 24 per cent week-on-week, with Ballarat market back in operation after last week’s public holiday, yet most saleyards penned fewer numbers. Cattle supply at Bairnsdale reduced 33 per cent , while Camperdown lifted 4 per cent from the previous week.

Numbers at Colac dropped to this year’s smallest winter yarding so far, easing 11 per cent , while Warrnambool yarded 8 per cent less cattle. Consignments at Leongatha and Wodonga remained relatively unchanged on last week, down 1 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, while numbers at Pakenham returned to a more normal level. Additionally, throughput at Shepparton increased 38 per cent .

Plainer quality across some categories

The usual buying groups were in attendance across most markets, operating in a firm to dearer market overall. There were good selections of supplementary fed yearling cattle reported at Pakenham, Shepparton and Wodonga, while Bairnsdale saw a limited number of plainer vealer grades offered.

Due to the low numbers at Colac, not all buyers were active, however the opening export sale saw some very good quality steers and bullocks, particularly for this time of year. Grown cattle were in high demand at Camperdown, while plainer quality steers and bullocks at Leongatha sold strongly to processor orders.

Prices higher in places

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to slaughter sold 24¢ stronger, averaging 187¢, while heavy C2 vealer heifers sold 1¢ cheaper to processors, ranging from 152¢ to 194¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling steers to slaughter lifted 1¢, averaging 191¢, while the equivalent heifer portion remained unchanged on 166¢/kg.

Heavy C3 grown steers to processors were unchanged, ranging between 154¢ and 195¢, while light D3 grown heifers were 1¢ dearer to slaughter, averaging 141¢/kg. Medium D2 manufacturing steers improved 14¢ on 155¢, while a large yarding of cows saw heavy D4 beef grades lift 2¢, to average 128¢/kg.

New South Wales

Consignments lift

Consignments nearly doubled at MLA’s NLRS markets week-on-week. This was due to some markets being rain affected in the previous week, together with the larger centre at Wagga along with Forbes and Tamworth resuming after the holiday weekend. Goulburn defied the trend to yard substantially fewer cattle. CTLX Carcoar and Gunnedah lifted 8 per cent and 5 per cent , respectively, as larger percentage gains from 30 per cent to 59 per cent were recorded at Inverell, Scone and Casino. Armidale and Singleton yarded steady numbers week-on-week.

Quality continues to be mixed

The majority of markets reported mixed quality offerings, however on average CTLX Carcoar penned a very good quality yarding. Younger cattle again dominated market percentages, as the cow categories made up the bulk of the older cattle.

There was little difference between the vealer steers and heifer numbers, as the majority of steers sold to restocker orders, while large percentages of the heifer portion went to processor orders. Yearling steers outnumbered the heifers by 20 per cent , as the majority again sold to restocker and feeder interest. Prime conditioned heavy weight steers and bullocks lifted in number, to 703 head suitable for slaughter. Cow numbers nearly tripled for around 3,260 head penned.

Prices trend higher

Vealer steers and heifers to restocker and feeder orders sold 5¢ to 10¢/kg dearer, with solid gains also recorded for those selling to processors. Yearling steers and heifers overall trended 10¢/kg dearer, as rainfall throughout the state lifted restocker confidence. Prime heavy weight grown steers and bullocks gained 5¢ to 7¢, with greater improvements attained in places due to quality, and younger drafts reaching 199¢/kg. Cows trended dearer by 10¢, as the 2 scores averaged 97¢, while the 3 and 4 scores ranged from 82¢ to 132¢/kg.

South Australia

Increased yardings

Even with more rainfall over most of SA the dwindling hay and grain supplies, combined with both the SA Livestock Exchange and Naracoorte sales recommencing after a two week break, has led to larger yardings. Mt. Gambier had a similarly numbered yarding, while Millicent is remaining in a monthly mode. It appears that there is renewed feeder and restocker confidence as they purchase more cattle at all sales.

The SA Livestock Exchange numbers increased after a fortnight’s break and contained increased supplies of supplementary fed yearlings that sold to an easing trend from the usual trade and export buyers. The limited numbers of vealers purchased by local butchers were cheaper. The C2 medium weight yearling steers to feeder activity lost ground and, while C3 medium weights were slightly dearer, the heavyweights were cheaper. Yearling heifers were much cheaper, while cows also sold at lower levels.

Naracoorte’s numbers rose over 1,200 head after a two week break, with most young cattle only in 1 and 2 score condition before a few supplementary fed yearlings were offered late in the sale. This allowed the usual SA and Victorian trade and export buyers to purchase improved quality lines after early runs had attracted feeder and restocker activity. Most cows were dearer to strong processor demand.

Quality slipped at Mt. Gambier, with only some grain fed cattle attracting the strongest competition. Feeder and restocker orders were active on the young cattle at fluctuating prices.

Varying quality, fluctuating demand

The B-muscled vealer steers to the trade sold from 197¢ to 209¢, with C3 sales from 210¢ to 230¢/kg at the SA Livestock Exchange. The C2 and C3 vealer heifers to the trade ranged from 130¢ to 200¢, or 8¢ to 15¢/kg less. Feeders and restockers sourced C1 and C2 lightweight heifers from 135¢ to 175¢, or unchanged to 21¢/kg dearer.

Yearling steer C3 and B-muscled medium and heavyweights sold between 150¢ and 215¢ with the grainfed dearer, while being 2¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper on the rest. Increased numbers of C1 and C2 yearling steers to trade, feeder and restocker activity were 2¢ to 8¢ dearer, selling between 112¢ and 196¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 sales were from 143¢ to 200¢ or 13¢ to 17¢/kg less. The C-muscled heifers to feeder and restocker orders were between 100¢ and 176¢/kg at lower levels.

Grown steers sold from 150¢ to 193¢ at prices unchanged to 4¢/kg dearer and averaging close to 320¢/kg cwt. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 80¢ to 128¢, with the 2 scores 3¢ dearer and the balance unchanged to 5¢ cheaper and generally 195¢ to 245¢/kg cwt.

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