Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 16 February 2007
clock icon 9 minute read

New South Wales

Rain influences some markets
The influence of rain (and even the promise of it) was evident at NLRS reported cattle sales as producers and buyers attempt to best position themselves for the much hoped for break in the season. Useful but relatively isolated weekend rain in some northern centres immediately reduced numbers and also affected the composition of yardings.

At Tamworth, Inverell, Armidale and Gunnedah, numbers fell substantially with Gunnedah numbers falling well below 4,000 head for the first time in many weeks. Both Tamworth and Inverell recorded falls of around 1,000 head. Quality generally lifted at these rain affected centres and at Inverell the lack of yearling heifers was noticeable. Prices, especially for young cattle, responded positively to the reduced numbers with rises of 4¢ to 10¢/kg common and much larger increases for restocker cattle at some centres. The market was more variable at other selling centres although there was a dearer trend for feeder yearlings as feedlot buyers increased activity, most notably at Wagga and Dubbo. In another large offering, most yearling cattle at Wagga were only suitable for feeders and restockers and these averaged 5¢/kg.

The influence of the rain extended further than the centres that received it with Scone reporting strong restocker orders from the Tamworth area.

Heavy steers and bullocks remain scarce in export sections as producers opt not to carry them on to export weights or, if they do, consign them direct to processors. Cow quality was again mixed with large proportions of one and two score lots at many centres.

Restockers active
Restockers made their presence felt at a number of rain affected selling centres, helping to lift most young cattle prices by 5¢ to 10¢/kg and up to 30¢ in some instances. That lift in demand was also matched by stronger feedlot orders, providing a fairly general rise in feeder categories.

With weaker markets at some centres, overall rises across all reported sales were more moderate. Medium weight vealer steers to kill rose 2¢ to average 172¢ although those to restockers were 10¢ dearer at 183¢/kg. Same description heifers rose 3¢ to 4¢ and made to 195¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed rose 2¢ to average 170¢ with heifers 4¢ to 6¢ dearer, ranging from 145¢ to 174¢/kg. Heavy heifers to kill remained unchanged at 157¢/kg.

On very light numbers, grown steers to kill were firm to 5¢ dearer, making to 190¢ for lighter weights and averaging from 165¢ to 170¢/kg. Light cows also responded to stronger restocker interest with D2s averaging 9¢ dearer at an average of 92¢/kg. The well finished medium and heavy weights sold in a wide range across the state, reaching 160¢ but most of the D3 and D4s averaged 130¢ to 132¢ or 3¢/kg dearer.

South Australia

Numbers return
The increased cattle numbers yarded this week seems to have caught many unaware as Dublin yarded 1,200, Naracoorte 1,332, Mt. Gambier 2,734 and Millicent 805, with only the latter’s sale featuring slightly smaller numbers. The increased numbers have probably been caused by the improved prices, and also by some hot weather since January’s good rainfall that has now seen most of the good germination turn brown again - apart from where no stock are being run for some time. With quality being quite mixed combined with the larger numbers, this tended to lead to most categories starting to fluctuate after the good gains that have been achieved over the past few weeks. Vealers are coming forward in short supplies, which is not surprising when considering the numbers turned off in store sales prior to, and just after Christmas.

However, with feeders, backgrounders and restockers providing solid competition to the trade, the latter were a little hamstrung in filling requirements as prices rose up to the 190¢/kg mark for feed on young cattle. It has been interesting to note that a few processors have been siphoning away steers and heifers over a wide range of weights to feed on, before the perceived lack of cattle numbers eventuates and makes supplies harder to come by.

Wholesalers, local butchers and processors provided steady competition at generally lower rates, this also due to the deterioration in quality. Mt. Gambier’s grown steers and cows witnessed prices retreating, and seemed to be following a weaker trend in Victoria on export categories for the past week or so.

Trade fluctuate, exports cheaper
Young cattle sales were hard to follow as the market started to fluctuate quite markedly as the steady upward price gains slowed down, and in many cases started to retreat. However, export categories were mostly lower as processors and wholesalers lowered their rates. Due to the strong feeder, backgrounding and restocker inquiry, trade purchases were more selective as vealer steers sold anywhere between 2¢ to 24¢ dearer; down to 5¢ to 6¢/kg less, and mainly in the 155¢ to 201¢/kg price range. Vealer heifer sales were unchanged to 14¢ easier; even though isolated B muscled sales may have been substantially dearer. This only led to a wide spread of prices mainly between 125¢ and 165¢/kg.

Yearling steers fluctuated between 1¢ and 4¢ dearer, and 7¢ to 18¢ easier, with feeders sourcing a large percentage as the majority of sales ranged between 132¢ and 165¢/kg. Yearling heifers had finished the week 4¢ to 14¢ lower, with later sales most affected, as most heifers sold between 130¢ and 160¢/kg.

Grown steers were 3¢ to 6¢ less with most C3 and C4 sales between 145¢ and 162¢. Cows were generally 3¢ to 10¢ easier, although some lightweight sales were 1¢ to 6¢/kg dearer.


Quality mixed
Increased numbers early on in the week, particularly at Pakenham, assisted an easing in prices along with plainer quality. Solid competition for cattle to feed-on and from producers for future breeders led a revival in prices late in the week.

The drought conditions have really started to bite in all Gippsland regions. This is bringing the quality into line with other parts of the state, although there is still a reasonable supply of good quality vealers and supplementary fed yearlings present. Wodonga was the leader in the supply of supplementary fed yearlings which assisted higher prices being realised. Pakenham offered it’s largest yarding ever for a Monday sale, and this, plus quality changes saw prices fall slightly.

However, the lack of quality and buyers saw some of the other sales sell at cheaper rates, but later in the week at Bairnsdale, very strong competition for cattle to feed-on, and from producers for particular lines of heifers for future breeders, saw prices return to higher levels.

Grown cattle also sold to mixed trends with steers generally selling a unchanged rates by average comparisons. However, cow prices reflected both the quality and competition with early markets a little cheaper, while late in the week prices were dearer. One of the most contrasting features of the week were bull prices, with some markets quoted as being hindered by lack of competition. This was reflected in the big variation in prices for top quality bulls.

Demand for young cattle
Prices for C muscle and plain quality D muscle steers and heifers purchased by feeders and restockers were mostly between 150¢ and 185¢/kg. However, there was every strong competition between producers at Bairnsdale, which saw C and D muscle composite heifer vealers make from 196¢ to 240.6¢/kg. This put processors under pressure, which saw an increase of up to 12¢/kg for young cattle. Over the week C muscle vealers and yearlings made from 150¢ to 191¢, and the best quality B muscle cattle made to 212¢/kg. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) reflected the trends created by feedlots and restockers late in the week to close Thursday at 316¢ a rise of 5.25¢/kg on last week.

Prices for grown steers and bullocks varied under the weight of greater numbers, and renewed competition. Most C3 and C4 steers and bullocks made between 148¢ and 163¢/kg, averaging equal to the previous week. Prices for cows fluctuated between selling centres, depending on quality and competition. Early in the week prices were firm to cheaper, while they lifted at later sales. Better quality cows made from 110¢ to 140¢, while poor condition cows made between 75¢ and 122¢/kg for sound cows. Prices for top quality bulls varied anywhere between 116¢ and 145¢/kg.


Scattered rains
Good falls of rain have eventually fallen over some of the grazing districts in the southern end of the state. However it has generally been storm rain, which in most cases has been very narrow, resulting in some areas receiving only a few millimetres.

Particular saleyards early in the week experienced some lift in supply, nevertheless as the rain eventuated, mid and late week markets, reported a large drop in numbers. Overall for the week 22% less stock were recorded at saleyards covered by MLA’s NLRS. The forecast of some useful falls of rain resulted in market trends responding very early in the week, with a large number of categories improving in value before the rain fell. Cows were noticeably dearer, a combination of the weather and additional buying strength in the cow section resulted in prices generally lifting by 6¢ to 9¢/kg. The shorter supply of steers and bullocks saw values improve, however overall gains were not as great as those achieved by the cows. Heavy steers gained 3¢/kg and bullocks experienced little change. A mixture of feeder and butcher demand on the medium and heavyweight yearling steers and heifers forced prices up by 2¢ to 10¢/kg.

With a lot of uncertainty in weather conditions still remaining over a number of areas lightweight young cattle and those in poor condition have not enjoyed any price improvements.

The quality of the early sorghum has been good with screenings not posing an issue. Wheat is still being sold onto the Downs at or near $300/mt. Barley is struggling to maintain its lead over wheat, nevertheless is still holding a premium at the moment.

Exports dearer
The reduced supply of calves showed little change in value with the occasional sale to 211¢, mostly returning to the paddock made in the 180¢/kg range. Vealer steers generally made around 174¢, with B muscled lines making to 204.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter reduced by 5¢ to average 161¢/kg. Lightweight feeder categories of yearling steers eased by 7¢ to average 175¢, and the medium weights 177¢/kg. Slaughter grades of yearling steers showed some improvement with the heavy weights making to 199.8¢ to average 186¢/kg. Yearling heifers followed a similar trend, lightweights to feed averaged 163¢ and the medium weights 10¢ dearer at 175¢/kg.

The small selection of medium weight grown steers to feed made to 189.2¢ to average 182¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter made to a top of 198¢ to average 3¢ dearer at 187¢/kg. The limited supply of bullocks averaged 185.2¢ and made to 194.2¢/kg. Medium weight score 1 cows improved up to 12¢ to average 94¢, while the 3 scores generally sold around 135¢/kg. Heavy score 3 cows averaged 138¢, with a relatively large sample of 4 scores making from 139¢ to 159¢, to average 8¢ dearer at 149¢/kg.

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