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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

12 December 2014
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - The following report is a collection of market summaries from the previous week across Australia's territories from analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

South Australia

Overall supply eases

Overall SA cattle supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, declined 17% week-on-week, to 4,168 head, with Millicent’s fortnightly sale not in operation. Both Mount Gambier and the SA Livestock Exchange’s throughput remained firm, yarding 2,620 head and 417 head, respectively. Naracoorte saw a slight lift in numbers, up 6% to pen 1,131 head of cattle.

Poorer quality lines attract limited support

Feeders and restockers from the Mid North were again prominent this week on well-bred young cattle at the SA Livestock Exchange, while the presence of an extra restocker at Mount Gambier led to increased competition. The increased supply of vealers originating from the Adelaide hills generally lacked the requisite finish to attract buyer demand, while similarly at Naracoorte, reduced quality led to softening price trends.

Quality yearling lines dearer

Heavy weight B and C3 vealer steers to slaughter eased 4¢ to 5¢ week-on-week and averaged 192¢, while heavy B3 vealer heifers were close to firm on 188¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling steers were purchased by processors at prices 5¢ dearer, averaging 178¢, while their heifer counterparts lifted by the same amount to return vendors 174¢/kg.

A large supply of over 1,000 head of C3 heavy grown steers to slaughter were 1¢ dearer and averaged 185¢, while C3 manufacturing steers eased 7¢ to settle on 152¢/kg. Cow numbers were limited this week, with Mount Gambier’s large draw resulting in a decision to split the sale, with cows still to be sold on Monday. Heavy D4 cows eased 17¢ and averaged 120¢/kg.


Markets start to wrap-up for the year

Useful falls of rain in parts of the supply area reduced the supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 26% week-on-week. Some areas have experienced very good rain while, typical of storm rain, other districts have missed out completely. Scattered rainfall, combined with the annual close down for the Christmas break, saw the Roma prime sale cancelled. A few selling centres closed for the year this week, while Toowoomba, Warwick, and the Roma store sale will finalise their selling program next week. Young cattle were in the largest numbers at most markets, along with a small sample of heavy grown steers and bullocks and a fair selection of cows. Export buyer activity and attendance was erratic early in the week, however by mid-week most were present and operating. The usual panel of feeder buyers was present and operating, along with extra restocker competition.

Rain boosts restocker interest

The storm rain in places lifted restocker demand and light weight young cattle improved in price by 10¢ to 20¢, and up to 30¢/kg in places. A relatively large number of calves returned to the paddock at 198¢, with some to 237.2¢/kg. Restockers absorbed the large selection of light weight yearling steers and lifted prices by 11¢ to 217¢, with a few pens reaching 251.2¢/kg. Medium weights to feed averaged 9¢ better at 218¢, with a few well-bred lines reaching 230¢/kg. Heavy weights lifted in price by 10¢, and considerably more in places, with most around 218¢, with some top quality lines reaching 237.2¢/kg, to return $1288/head. The best of the light weight yearling heifers averaged 7¢ to 13¢ better, with both feed and slaughter lines averaging in the high 180¢/kg range. Medium and heavy weights to feed averaged in the 190¢ range, while some heavy weights to the trade made to 218.2¢/kg.

Cow prices fluctuate

Heavy grown steers and bullocks improved 2¢ to 6¢ to average 203¢ and 206¢, respectively, with occasional sales to 215.2¢/kg. Cows experienced a mixed trend, with medium weight plain condition lines improving 6¢ to average 143¢/kg. Good heavy cows could not maintain the improved prices of the previous week to average 1¢ less at 173¢, with the very occasional sale to 189.2¢/kg.

New South Wales 

Numbers increase

Cattle consignments lifted by 14%, at MLA’s NLRS markets this week, to total 27,075 head. Wagga increased by 23%, for a total of 4,855 head, while Tamworth slipped 7%, with some good rain recorded around the supply area. Forbes added an extra 17%, to offer 2,416 cattle, while CTLX gained 24%, for a total of 3,450 head. Gunnedah and Scone went against the higher trend and slipped by 3% and 16%, respectively, as the Hunter market of Singleton added an extra 26%, for a total of 855 head. The northern market of Armidale doubled its number for 1,175 head, due to this being the last market at this centre for 2014. Inverell gained 12%, at 1,345 cattle, with Casino maintaining equal consignments for 1,058 head. Dubbo continued to pen large numbers at 6,040 head.

Quality overall remains mixed

At Wagga, there were increased numbers of yearling steers and heifers suitable for the trade, along with a moderate increase in heavy grown steers and bullocks. Yearlings made up the bulk offered at Forbes, together with a handy penning of cows. Tamworth offered a number of pens of very good quality vealers, yearlings and cows, while CTLX yarded a good supply of cattle in forward condition. Cow numbers doubled at Inverell, with Gunnedah penning a limited supply of grown steers and heifers. Dubbo offered prime-conditioned cattle in all categories, together with numbers of plainer cattle consigned from the far west.

Prices trend higher

The vealer steers trended 8¢ higher, as prices to the restockers ranged from 173¢ to 245¢, with the heavier prime-conditioned pens to the butchers topping at 217¢/kg. The heifer portion to the restockers trended 14¢ dearer, as the prime-conditioned pens to the butchers topped at 218¢/kg. The yearling steers lifted 3¢ to 6¢, with the medium weights to restockers and lot feeders averaging from 201¢ to 205¢, after reaching 220¢/kg. Prime-conditioned heavy weights to butchers maintained firm prices and averaged 191¢, with the best reaching 218¢/kg. The yearling heifers across most weight ranges lifted 5¢ to 10¢/kg. Heavy weight grown steers suitable for slaughter gained from 2¢ to 5¢, as the best topped at 207¢/kg. Cows sold 3¢ dearer, as the plainer 2 scores averaged 139¢/kg. The better covered 3 and 4 scores ranged from 134¢ to 182¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls topped at 216¢/kg.


Numbers swell in the lead up to Christmas

With the final sales for the year fast approaching, Victorian cattle supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, jumped nearly 30% week-on-week, totalling 17,907 head. Wodonga and Shepparton lifted 20% and 60% to pen 3,820 head and 3,600 head, respectively, while Warrnambool increased its consignments by 17%, to just over 2,000 head. Pakenham was up 50%, yarding 2,309 head, while Leongatha’s numbers gained 33%, totalling 2,571 head. Camperdown was up 15%, to 1,293 head, as Colac lifted 45% for a yarding of 902 head. Numbers at Ballarat lifted marginally, to 585 head, while Bairnsdale was the only sale this week to see supply come back, easing 16% to pen 811 head of cattle.

Quality improvements in places

Overall quality was mixed this week, although a number of markets did report improvements in certain sections, while Wodonga yarded an excellent quality line-up of cattle, with plenty of weight and yield in the heavy export categories. Shepparton reported several extra northern processors in attendance this week due to the recent wet conditions having slowed cattle supplies in the north. Cow demand weakened at Ballarat, while an increased field of restockers bid keenly on a large run of dairy cows at Leongatha.

Cow prices ease under weight of supply

Heavy C3 vealer steers were purchased by processors at unchanged prices week-on-week, averaging 195¢, with their heifer counterparts also firm, settling on 183¢/kg. Heavy C2 and 3 score yearling steers to feeders lifted 8¢ to 16¢, averaging 192¢, while the C3’s to slaughter eased 1¢ to 186¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling heifers to processors were marginally cheaper on 174¢, while the D3 lines met a slightly dearer trend, up 4¢ to return vendors 168¢/kg on average.

A large supply of heavy C to D3 grown steers to slaughter sold from firm to 3¢ dearer at 185¢, while C4 bullocks were unchanged week-on-week and averaged 182¢/kg. Heavy D2 dairy bred manufacturing steers eased 1¢ to 160¢, while the beef bred D3 descriptions settled around 168¢/kg. Cows were in good numbers, with heavy weights showing good finish in the majority. The plainer D muscled dairy cows were up to 6¢ cheaper this week, with averages from 125¢ to 141¢, while the better covered D3 and 4 scores eased 4¢ and averaged in the early 150¢/kg range.

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