Cattle market solid

AUSTRALIA - Young cattle prices improved on December levels, with increased demand, particularly from lotfeeders. This contributed to the EYCI finishing Thursday trading at 296.75¢/kg cwt – the highest level since late November. Cows were the other category to show a noteworthy increase, with the national cow indicator finishing at 108¢/kg lwt, up 14¢ on mid-December.
calendar icon 12 January 2007
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Markets open stronger

Young cattle prices improved on December levels, with increased demand, particularly from lotfeeders, assisting rates to rise across most categories. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator finished Thursday trading at 296.75¢/kg cwt – the highest level since late November and a recovery from December levels.

Some patchy storm rain has caused optimism in areas that were the fortunate recipients, while smaller than anticipated yardings, such as Gippsland, Victoria, created stronger competition. The national trade steer indicator improved to 161¢/kg lwt, with all states increasing by a large percentage except for Queensland, which had only slight rises as Queensland prices in December showed more consistency and were higher than in other states.

Lotfeeder interest was noticeably stronger than before Christmas, with a combination of some buyers not having sourced many cattle over the past three weeks, some anticipating turning off large numbers in the coming weeks and looking for replacement stock, and others sourcing cattle to put onto feed for Japan’s Golden Week in late April. There has been additional lotfeeder buying from the saleyards throughout the week, with many centres reporting additional competition from non-regular buyers. Lotfeeder and restocker demand has also been spurred on by the strength in the recent southern weaner sales. Heavy yearlings and grown steers were the main recipients of the improved rates. The national feeder steer indicator sits at 160¢, a gain of 1¢/kg lwt on pre-Christmas levels.

Export markets also recovered from December levels, despite some Queensland export abattoirs not resuming buying until next week. The lack of heavy grown steers meant any well-conditioned lots commanded solid attention from both processors and feedlots. The national Japan ox indicator finished at 156¢ and the national cow indicator at 108¢/kg lwt.

Yearlings dominate supply

Cattle supply at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards was larger in every state, with almost double the numbers penned compared with the closing week of sales last year. When compared with the opening week last year, NSW, SA and Victoria penned higher numbers, while Queensland throughput was 42% lower and WA 36% less.

Southern Queensland vendors continue to endure a difficult season, although patchy rainfall has offered some optimism. Further summer falls are required to ensure adequate pasture growth before autumn. As several Queensland abattoirs do not recommence buying until next week, this has contributed to some seller resistance.

With a continuation of the conditions witnessed during spring, water and feed constraints remain major issues, particularly in Victoria and most of NSW. In both of these states, lotfeeders and, to a lesser extent, restockers have dominated the buying of young cattle. In NSW, yearlings represented 50% of the market and vealers 17%. Comparatively, in Victoria cows were in a high proportion (34%) while young cattle made up 42%. Lotfeeders purchased over 60% of yearlings in NSW, with restockers making purchases in Victorian prime sales in addition to the first of the southern weaner sales. Many of these made their way north to southern Queensland, where lotfeeders and backgrounders are buying as more slaughter space becomes available.

In SA, competition strengthened in all sales, with processors keen to obtain adequate numbers, spurred on by some additional lotfeeder presence. Vealer heifers in particular attracted improved enquiry from wholesalers and local butchers, as many heifer lots were in better condition than their steer counterparts.

WA markets have begun steady, with grazier and feeder support limited at Midlands, while Boyanup received strong support. Trade competition was restricted at both centres, with the local butcher trade underpinning prices for young cattle.

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