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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

21 October 2013

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

South Australia

Numbers lift

Overall numbers increased 56 per cent to total 4,804 head at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. With the return to a normal trading week, Mount Gambier yarded 60 per cent higher numbers, while Naracoorte lifted its throughput 51 per cent . After missing a sale due to last Monday’s public holiday, the SA Livestock Exchange was once again operating and yarded 629 head.

Tentative demand

The buying gallery at the SA Livestock Exchange was reportedly in limited attendance this week, with competition easing on a mixed quality offering, write market analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia.

Naracoorte, however, offered a fair to good quality yarding for a much larger young cattle and cow penning. Quality related improvements in the young cattle selection saw prices trend firm to slightly dearer. Mount Gambier experienced easing competition from trade and processor buyers; however feeders and restockers were active on suitable cattle.

Prices decrease

Heavy weight C3 vealer steers to the trade were 6¢ cheaper to average 193¢, while their heifer counterparts were back 3¢ on 187.6¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight C3 yearling steers to processors lost 11¢ to 19¢, respectively, with average prices around 166.3¢ and 179.2¢/kg. The medium weight C2 and C3 heifers gained 2¢ to 9¢ to settle on 166.6¢, while heavy C3 lines eased 12¢ to 166.9¢/kg.

Heavy weight C3 grown steers and bullocks slipped 4¢ to 10¢, week-on-week, selling to an average price of 182¢/kg. Medium D2 beef cows were back 9¢ on 111.5¢, while heavy C and D3 lines lost 3¢ to 4¢ to settle on 139¢/kg.


Numbers lift

Numbers at physical markets reported on by MLA’s NLRS increased by 7 per cent week-on-week. The return of the Toowoomba sales, following their absence the previous week due to the public holiday, lifted overall supply.

There was a large increase in numbers at early markets due to the break in the selling program, while numbers generally remained steady at most other centres. Buyer attendance across the young cattle section was generally good with all the usual feeder buyers present and operating, along with reasonable numbers of restocker buyers, despite the lack of rain. Export processor activities were erratic and, while all were present, not all were operating across all classes.

Prices continue to fall

The better end of the young cattle met strong demand from restockers, feeder operators and the trade, while secondary quality lines struggled to maintain recent levels. A handful of top quality vealer heifers to local butchers made to 201.2¢ and D muscle lines were in the largest numbers and averaged 122¢/kg.

Light weight yearling steers returning to the paddock continued to receive strong support with most close to 168¢, with sales to 182.2¢/kg. The largest number of medium weights to feed averaged 165¢ and made to 180¢/kg. A large sample of heavy weights to feed lifted in price by 1¢ to 5¢, with most in the high 160¢ range and some sales to 176.2¢/kg.

The dry weather conditions continue to force large numbers of light weight yearling heifers into the market. Prices generally improved with a small selection of top quality lines averaging 174¢, and D muscle lines averaged in the mid-140¢/kg range.

Heavy grown steers and bullocks generally sold to a dearer trend with a premium for the younger milk and two tooth classes, while average prices eased for the secondary quality lines. Heavy grown steers averaged 184¢, with occasional sales to 195.2¢/kg. The better end of the bullocks made to 197.2¢, to average 187¢/kg. The cow market saw only quality related price changes, with medium weight 2 scores at 102¢ and 3 scores close to 120¢/kg. Good heavy cows averaged 142¢, with sales to 149.2¢/kg.

Western Australia

Season remains strong

The traditional cattle growing areas of the southwest remain in a very strong seasonal situation, with pasture and feed levels very high. Weather conditions have remained mild, with some light rainfall recorded mid-week and forecasts predicting more rainfall across the weekend.

Hay production is in full swing in the southwest and, despite recent rainfall, there has been only limited interruption to this process. Conditions in the far north of the state remained fine and dry, with temperatures increasing and reducing mustering activity – as would be expected at this time of year.

Spring turnoff on the rise

Processors continue to report solid booking levels on a direct-to-works basis, with the turnoff of southern agricultural cattle on the rise. Live export activity has also increased in southern regions. There was an increase in physical sale numbers this week, with all three weekly sales having higher numbers penned.

Pastoral cattle supplies were moderately larger, while the numbers of local trade and heavy weight steers and heifers were higher. The volumes of yearling store cattle remained moderate, with slightly higher supplies of new season vealers. Cow numbers increased, with an overall lift in quality seen at all three markets.

Firm demand

Demand from the trade and feeder sectors for prime, grass finished, trade weight yearlings remained similar, with only slight decreases recorded in overall prices. Heavy weight steers and bullocks eased also marginally for both local and pastoral drafts. Demand from the feeder and restocker sectors for yearling stores remained selective but strong throughout the classes, with reasonable increases in prices.

The cow market remained at strong levels, with a solid and constant processor demand and competition recorded in both local and pastoral categories. Live exporters remained active on light weight bulls, with these realising moderate increases in price levels.


Cattle supply steady

Cattle numbers showed little change as the generally favourable spring conditions continue to bring forward good numbers of stock with plenty of weight and condition. At MLA’s NLRS reported sales, supply eased slightly to 11,689 head overall, although a couple of individual centres recorded increased offerings.

The smaller selling centres of Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Camperdown and Colac all had reasonable increases, as did Leongatha which yarded a healthy 1,505 head. Countering the rises was Wodonga, where numbers fell by 850 to 3,350 head.

Plenty of weight and finish

Quality and condition varied depending on local conditions, but overall consignments provided a very good selection of processing stock for both domestic and export orders. A number of centres reported small but well presented offerings of supplementary fed young cattle, along with good numbers of grass fed lots showing the benefit of the spring conditions.

At Wodonga, there was an excellent offering of prime young cattle, mostly grass fed. This prompted a market rise of 4¢ to 5¢ – and up to 20¢ in places – for young cattle, with B muscle vealers reaching a top price of 230¢/kg. Light trade cattle were generally in fewer numbers, with most centres recording better numbers of grown steers and cows.

At Leongatha, young trade cattle were scarce, with yearling steers falling mostly into the heavy weight categories and many of the yearling heifers going to restockers. At Warrnambool, much of the rise in numbers was due to more cows and grown cattle offered, while among the young cattle there were only a few vealers.

Slaughter cattle sell stronger

Demand remained generally strong for good quality slaughter cattle, with average prices mostly firm to around 5¢/kg dearer across all sales. The better vealers ranged from 180¢ to 220¢, while medium and heavy C3 yearling trade steers reached 216¢ to average around 189¢/kg. Secondary D muscled young cattle and those selling to restockers, however, generally eased by as much as 20¢/kg, particularly for heifers. While grown steers to process also averaged a little dearer, selling above 200¢/kg at a number or centres, grown heifers and cows generally tended cheaper.

New South Wales

Yardings surge

Overall cattle yardings, as reported by MLA’s NLRS, recorded a 73 per cent increase in numbers week-on-week to total 28,885 head. This was due to the return of the Forbes, Tamworth and Wagga sales following last week’s public holiday, combined with record numbers being recorded at some centres. CLTX offered 18 per cent more cattle this week, while Gunnedah and Scone increased throughput by 19 per cent and 31 per cent , respectively.

Casino lifted its yarding by 4 per cent week-on-week. Tamworth saw its consignments hit their highest level since 1998, totalling 2,795 head, while Dubbo’s 35 per cent week-on-week increase resulted in a record yarding of 7,740 head. The only centres to defy the trend were Armidale, Inverell and Singleton, with all experiencing a 13 per cent to 19 per cent decrease in throughput.

Dry weather continues to hamper quality

As the dry weather in the north of state continues, most cattle yarded at northern markets were of plain quality; however restocker activity at Armidale helped boost the market. There were limited numbers of well-finished grown steers and trade cattle consigned at Tamworth.

The very best of the trade cattle sold close to firm at Dubbo, however as most were in plainer condition, prices eased on the majority. The quality of grown steers and bullocks was excellent at Wagga, however demand was weak. Cows and grown steers at CTLX showed plenty of weight and condition. A large percentage of the yarding at Scone was either off crop or supplementary finished, while there was a lack of supplementary finished trade cattle offered at Singleton.

Prices fall under weight of numbers

Medium weight vealer steers to restock were 12¢ lower on 152¢, while medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter were 5¢ higher on 161¢/kg. Light weight yearling steers to restockers were 7¢ cheaper on 152¢, while those to feed lost 10¢ to average 160¢/kg.

Medium weight yearling steers to feed decreased 9¢ to 164¢, while heavy weight drafts to slaughter eased 4¢ to 180¢/kg. Light weight yearling heifers to restockers were firm on 131¢, while medium weight lines to slaughter were 9¢ lower on 156¢/kg. Heavy weight 3 yearling heifers were 2¢ cheaper on 160¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed decreased 16¢ to average 159¢, while those to slaughter were 9¢ lower on 166¢/kg. Heavy weight grown steers to slaughter slipped 7¢ to 171¢, while bullocks to kill gained 7¢ to average 185¢/kg. Medium weight grown heifers to slaughter were 3¢ higher on 157¢, while D3 lines to process eased 9¢, to settle on 132¢/kg. Medium weight cows to slaughter were 6¢ cheaper on 126¢, while heavy weights also lost 3¢ to 139¢/kg.

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