- news, features, articles and disease information for the beef industry


MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

12 July 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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


Quality lines hard to source

With no substantial rain over the vast majority of the state, numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS generally remained high. Overall quality declined, with larger numbers of plain condition drought affected lines included in the line-up at the Roma store sale.

The ongoing harsh conditions in the larger cattle producing areas continue to force young cattle into the market, with younger classes representing 70per cent of total throughput.

Buyer representation at most markets was erratic and varied from centre to centre, and one major feeder operator was absent from the buying panel across most selling centres. Restockers were also very cautious in their purchases and, with less feeder competition, prices for young cattle generally eased.

Young cattle prices ease marginally

A relatively large selection of 2,300 head of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 6¢ cheaper at 179¢, with the occasional pen of well-bred lines making to 194¢/kg. A large number of D muscle lines mostly sold to around 149¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed generally sold in the 160¢ range, and heavy feeders averaged 2¢ less at 168¢/kg.

The best of the lightweight yearling heifers experienced very little change in price to average 142¢, however poorer quality lines were in the largest numbers with most sales in the 130¢/kg range.

Export prices remain firm

The short supply of heavy grown steers and bullocks to export slaughter generally managed to hold on to the improved rates of the previous week. Heavy steers averaged close to 168¢ and made to 177¢ and bullocks averaged a similar amount and made to 176¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks improved in price by 5¢ to average 161¢, with a few pens to 168¢/kg.

Cows experienced a mixed trend, with the lower fat score ranges losing 5¢ to 10¢ and plain condition lines averaging 84¢/kg. Good heavy cows were in demand, with average prices at around 128¢ and some selling to 142¢/kg.

New South Wales

Cattle numbers increase

With limited rainfall recorded throughout the state, numbers lifted 21per cent at MLA’s NLRS markets, week-on-week. Wagga commenced the week yarding 7per cent fewer cattle, as Forbes along with Gunnedah more than doubled their consignments, compared to the previous rain affected markets. CTLX Carcoar gained 16per cent , as the northern sales trended differently, with Inverell penning fewer cattle, while Casino more than doubled in number.

The Hunter markets were also inconsistent as Scone penned 28per cent extra cattle, with Singleton yarding fewer numbers. Dubbo is still struggling to attract their usually higher numbers to pen around 2,300 cattle.

Quality was mixed

The majority of markets reported a mixed quality offering, with overall quality a shade lower compared to the previous week. Younger cattle continue to dominate market percentages, with around 5,234 vealer and yearling steers were offered.

The heifer portion penned 4,132 head, with again the majority of the younger cattle selling to restocker and feeder orders. Cow categories made up the bulk of the older cattle penned, with around 2,930 offered. Increased supplies of prime conditioned heavy weight steers to slaughter were also yarded.

Prices showed little change

Markets reported mixed trends, however on average younger cattle throughout the state sold close enough to firm. The 200kg plus vealer steers, returning to the paddock, averaged 178¢, after topping at 206¢/kg. The same weight heifer portion to processor orders ranged from 130¢ to 182¢/kg.

Yearling steers to the feeders reached 204¢, before averaging 186¢/kg. Heavy weight yearling steers and heifers to the butchers sold from 148¢ to 207¢/kg. Prime heavy weight grown steers and bullocks lifted 3¢, as cows on average trended another 2¢/kg dearer. The plainer 2 scores averaged 109¢, with the better covered 3 and 4 scores ranging from 95¢ to 151.6¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers down and quality mixed

The three weekly cattle markets reported on by MLA’s NLRS all offered smaller yardings. The SA Livestock Exchange penned 50per cent less than their already small yarding of the previous week. The fortnightly Millicent sale hosted 270 cattle this week.

Quality amongst the markets varied from plainer, to mixed, through to good. Vealers were scarce, with more yearlings penned even though many lacked finish. Grown steers came forward in lower numbers and none were yarded at all at Naracoorte. Cow quality was mainly better, with many having good cover and even presenting in over condition.

Usual buyers paid varying prices

Markets hosted the usual field of buyers, though one less exporter operated due to their plant being shut for annual maintenance. Restockers were present but less active at some markets. Prices paid this week for yearlings to feed generally fluctuated at cheaper levels.

Their prices were up to 8¢/kg lower, though the odd sales were firm. Processors paid from a few cents less for heifers at Mount Gambier to up to 8¢/kg higher for yearlings at most markets, though most sold close to unchanged. Cows sold anywhere from equal to 10¢ more, with extremes to 15¢/kg higher at the SA Livestock Exchange. At all markets they averaged 2¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. Better quality grown steers averaged 5¢/kg dearer.

Western Australia

Southern rainfall remains below average

Conditions in the far north of WA have stabilised and returned to a more normal winter pattern after the very unseasonal rainfall of the previous month. Mustering activity has increased after the wet conditions, with good numbers now flowing south from these northern regions.

Conditions in the southern Ag districts remain very patchy, with June’s rainfall one of the lowest on record. This, coupled with very cold conditions that have brought wide spread frosting, has had a detrimental effect on pasture and crop growth. Eastern and northern Ag districts have experienced the worst of the dry conditions, while traditional areas in the southwest and coastal regions continue to enjoy reasonable seasonal conditions.

Numbers increase

Muchea remained the largest yarding this week, with its volumes almost doubling due to an increase in the supplies of cattle from pastoral regions. The southwest sale remained very small with moderate, but slightly smaller, numbers seen at the Great Southern fixture. The supplies of prime trade and heavy weight slaughter grades from local areas remained limited, with reasonable supplies of cows available at all three markets.

Trade demand weakens

Demand from the trade in both prime trade steer and heifer categories remained solid, with limited supply levels having an impact. Demand for store cattle continued at reasonable levels throughout the classes to similar feeder and restocker interest. Heavy weight pastoral steers recorded a weaker trade inquiry and slipped in value, with the limited supplies of heavy weight mature heifers also recording weakening processor demand.

Local and pastoral cow quality remained fair. Trade demand, although reasonable, weakened as the weekly average was marginally lower. Heavy weight bulls also saw more conservative demand from the trade. Live exporters remained selective in lightweight bull classes with export feeders purchasing the majority.


Supply tightens

Overall supply was down by 4per cent , although there were sizeable increases by a few of the minor markets. The previously long dry spell has enticed producers to offload suitable lines over the past few months due to the lack of feed, although numbers have started to dwindle with fewer offered at markets in recent weeks. There are reports of producers holding remaining stock in the hope feed levels improve into spring.

Quality varies

Pasture fed cattle are mostly of plain to average condition, predominately through the yearling categories, while grown cattle are holding finish. There are grain assisted and supplementary fed yearlings flowing through some centres with processor interest high due to the quality of cattle offered. Grown cattle off pasture are varying in quality.

Mainly higher prices this week

Price trends this week nearly all tended upwards with price variations recorded due to quality and finish. Prices continued to lift as the week progressed, with processors chasing cows to fill daily kills. Trade buyers were selective, but did pay more for most of their purchases. There were some significant rises in prices with some cows up around 15¢/kg at times, while most cattle categories ranged from 2¢ to 8¢/kg higher.

TheCattleSite News Desk

Our Sponsors


Seasonal Picks

Animal Welfare in EPS - 5m Books