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 March 2007
clock icon 11 minute read

Western Australia

Increased numbers
Cattle numbers increased at all three saleyards as all sales returned to normal after last week’s long weekend. Midlands featured 1,491 sold by liveweight, with 212 by appraisal, with Boyanup yarding 520 head for its first sale in a fortnight. Mt. Barker’s numbers rose which was not surprising when considering the good prices paid last week. However, the increased numbers only led to very mixed quality yardings that featured mainly unfinished young cattle, with only a sprinkling of prime supplementary and grain fed yearlings at each sale.

Grown steers were in small numbers and despite their forward condition attracted solid feeder and live export competition that left a couple of processors floundering as they tried to compete. Only a small number of cows, some 302 Statewide were penned and attracted a mixture of activity from processors, live exporters, feeders and restockers, with an additional order at Mt. Barker certainly creating some interest as prices rose above the 110¢/kg mark on a few occasions.

Despite a lack of rain in just about all regions, apart from those affected by recent cyclone activity combining with last week’s very hot weather, it was surprising to witness such strong feeder and restocker activity at each sale; with some amazing prices being paid for light 1 and 2 score vealer steers as rates peaked at 208¢/kg at Midlands. Most bulls under 600kgs sold mainly to live export, feeder and restocker inquiry at very fluctuating rates, while one processor sourced the majority of heavy bulls that sold to an easing trend.

Fluctuating trends
Vealer steers were mainly 2¢ to 5¢ easier, up to 6¢ to 13¢/kg dearer as most sales ranged between 145¢ and 208¢/kg in a wide spread of prices to feeders and restockers. With buyers becoming a little more circumspect, light D1 vealer heifers to feeders and restockers were 27¢ to 35¢ lower, with other sales ranging between 1¢ and 7¢ dearer, down to 1¢ to 11¢/kg lower. This led to most selling between 80¢ and 188¢/kg in a huge spread of prices, with only a handful attracting trade competition.

The trade sourced most grain finished steers at rates between 155¢ and 209¢, with feeders, live exporters and restockers sourcing the rest, as sales fluctuated between 2¢ and 6¢ easier, and 2¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. This led to most selling between 140¢ and 192¢/kg. While grain finished heifers sold between 150¢ and 177¢ at generally dearer levels, there was a wide spread of prices on the rest that ranged mostly between 75¢ and 160¢/kg.

Grown steers were 9¢ to 13¢ dearer, and mainly due to strong feeder and live export competition that led to sales peaking at 168¢/kg. Cows were mostly 4¢ to 10¢/kg dearer on mixed quality runs.


Cows dominate
The was a large increase in numbers and cows dominated the export sections. The lift of almost 50% in supply at physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS was partly attributed to Longreach re-entering the selling program on a fortnightly basis.

The hot and humid conditions along with recent improvements in price contributed to numbers increasing further for one of the largest sales in some time at Longreach. Prices generally weakened from a fortnight ago levels, despite quality being good across the majority of grades. The light end of the market was the exception and benefited from some restocker and feeder activity.

In the southeast corner of the state the uplift in numbers was largely attributed to an influx of younger cattle. Values at markets early in the week generally showed little change for the export grades. Nevertheless by midweek at Dalby cow prices deteriorated rapidly with losses of 11¢ to 14¢/kg on the heavy weights. Heavy 3 scores showed the most improvements the previous week, turned around to suffer the greatest losses. However competition from a few extra processors on the medium weight lines of cows slowed price falls down to 5¢ to 7¢/kg.

Despite the downward movement of price in export lines young cattle experienced a completely different trend. A large number of categories improved in value with demand mainly focused on the feeder grades. Restocker's from more favourable districts also attributed to the lift in values.

The sorghum market has moved lower this week as the trade continues to liquidate their long term positions.

Young cattle lift in value
Calves lifted 5¢ to 7¢ and more on some lines, as restocker categories averaged 192¢ and sold to 225.2¢/kg. Restocker's selected well bred lines of vealer steers and paid from 219¢ to 232¢/kg. Processors purchased the better end of the vealer heifers 7¢ dearer at 192¢ with sales to 200¢/kg. Most of the yearlings steers improved with feeder lines gaining 5¢ to 7¢, with a large number of sales in the 190¢/kg range. A good sample of lightweight yearlings steers returned to the paddock at an average of 208¢ with sales to 217.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers experienced a similar movement in price with lightweight feeders gaining 6¢ to average 182¢/kg. Slaughter grades were 3¢ to 6¢ better with the largest supply mostly selling around 183¢ with sales to 197¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers suitable to feed showed no change in value to average 183¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter lost 2¢ with most selling close to 192¢, the occasional sale to 205¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks fell by 4¢ to average 192¢ with some to 200.6¢/kg. A large number of 3 score cows dropped in value 9¢, the medium weights averaging 135¢, and the heavy grades 139¢/kg. Good heavy cows sold to 171.2¢/kg.

South Australia

Prices climb
With the Adelaide Cup public holiday on Monday, Naracoorte started the week with a larger yarding of cattle. Mt. Gambier was slightly larger; while Millicent’s yarding numbered 664 head also to be larger. While there was an improvement in quality at Naracoorte with some good vealers being offered, Mt. Gambier had a generally good quality yarding, with Millicent’s being quite mixed.

Despite the varying quality offered most categories attracted a dearer trend, with the 200c/kg barrier again breached by the trade for prime vealer steers and heifers. Feeders and restockers were quite active and sourced the majority of vealer steers even though one strong order was missing. Trade prices peaked at 210¢/kg in another strong return for producers. There was also a good percentage of vealer heifers sourced by the trade, with isolated better quality pens peaking at 204¢/kg. Yearling steers and heifers also came under strong inquiry from wholesalers that led to most sales being dearer on both categories, with steers peaking at 176¢, and the heifers rising into the 150¢ to 160¢/kg price range.

Grown steer prices on a good quality run at Mt. Gambier were also given a boost as wholesalers and processors sourced these heavy weight cattle and sent prices over the 170¢/kg mark for medium weights. Most cows attracted improved rates although fluctuating at times, even though there were very few sales below 110¢/kg. This led to most 3 and 4 scores attracting dearer rates, as isolated sales rose above 140¢/kg.

Strong competition
It was a week of generally dearer rates as strong competition from all quarters lifted most categories to higher levels. Vealer steers were sourced mainly by feeder and restocker orders at rates 2¢ to 4¢ more, with trade purchases up to 9¢/kg higher. This led to very few steers selling below 160¢, with most sales between 165¢ and 195¢/kg. While feeders were also active on vealer heifers, the trade were able to secure reasonable numbers with most selling between 140¢ and 181¢ and isolated sales higher, as rates fluctuated between 1¢ and 7¢ easier, to 2¢ to 8¢/kg dearer. Yearling steers sourced by wholesalers were 1¢ to 8¢ dearer, while feeder rates fluctuated, as most sales ranged between 147¢ and 170¢/kg. Yearling heifers were generally unchanged to 7¢ dearer as most sold to the trade in a 150¢ to 160¢/kg price range.

Grown steer prices improved by 6¢ to 8¢, with C3 and C4 sales between 155¢ and 171c/kg, or 275¢ to 305¢/kg cwt. Small runs of grown heifers and manufacturing steers were 3¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Cow prices continued to improve as all D muscled sales rose above 105¢, with 2 to 4 scores selling mainly between 112¢ and 137¢/kg.

New South Wales

Season directs markets
Seasonal outlook was the main factor determining yardings at MLA’s NLRS reported sales this week. Where prospects have brightened after good rain in recent weeks, numbers dropped further but in most districts where the season is still in the balance, yardings generally increased. The combined total at all reported sales rose 12% after three weeks of declining consignments. Quality remained mixed with unfinished weaners and yearlings predominant and only isolated pens of prime cattle penned.

Inverell, Tamworth, Dubbo and Gunnedah all reported smaller yardings but all other centres drew larger numbers. Prices again strengthened, particularly where supply was tighter, but the market showed some signs of moderating after three to four weeks of consistent rises. Some late week sales reported a slightly cheaper trend for some of the lighter, restocking cattle which had shown the greatest gains in the past month. At Dubbo where 200 fewer cattle were penned, vealer steers to restockers fell 10¢/kg, feeder steers eased 1¢ and yearling steers to the trade averaged 6¢/kg cheaper. Most other centres maintained or improved young cattle prices.

In the export section, a scarcity of high yielding heavy cows was more evident although light weight and plain lots were still plentiful. Prices were again mainly dearer although some sales, such as Dubbo and Armidale, reported falls of 5¢ to 10¢/kg. Grown steers and bullocks were slightly better represented at some centres but still remain very scarce with little likelihood of significant increases while the market offers little incentive to carry stock to higher weights and while feed is so scarce.

Price rises moderating
Prices were generally firm to dearer although in some instances, prices eased back as much as 10¢kg from the high levels of last week. Light steers under about 300kg lwt remained the main focus of strong restocker competition with price gains of 10¢ to 15¢/kg at some centres. The major exception was Casino where another large yarding met some buyer resistance and prices for young cattle fell 2¢ to 10¢/kg. Indicative was the fall of 7¢/kg for medium weight vealer steers bought by processors. The same category heifers also eased 3¢/kg. Light yearling steers to feeders, however, improved a further 7¢/kg to average 194¢/kg. Most other feeder steers and heifers enjoyed similar gains.

The slightly better offering of grown steers and bullocks met solid enquiry to sell at firm prices. Heavy 4 score steers ranged from 170¢ to 210¢ to average 185¢/kg lwt. Lightweight cows were the only category to improve overall and recorded a 13¢/ lift for the D2s to average of 118¢/kg. Medium and heavy weights fell 6¢ to 7¢ with most D3s and D4s ranging from 120¢ to 155¢/kg. Odd sales of C muscled cows made above 160¢/kg.


Numbers lower
The number of cattle offered at MLA’s NLRS reported markets were down for the week, however, the total figure does not include the normal Monday sales because of the public holiday. All markets were larger overall except for Korumburra and Bairnsdale with the later affected by the high country weaner cattle sales. While trade cattle numbers did increase, grown cattle were by far the big improvers.

There was some increased competition, mainly due to the lower numbers, with young cattle particularly receiving greater demand from all buying sectors. Prices were dictated by quality with some of the plainer descriptions receiving price reductions. The northern markets of Shepparton and Wodonga were most affected by poorer conditioned lines.

Both competition and demand varied with trade cattle, grown steers and bullocks generally selling at higher rates, but cow prices were a little easier. Competition from feedlots and restockers varied with quality affecting the outcome for suitable cattle.

On the other hand, quality was not an issue at the Benambra, Omeo, Ensay and Hinnomunjie weaner sales with very strong demand from northern buyers setting a very strong pace. Depending on which sale that you were at between 55% and 70% of the cattle went into NSW. The weaner cattle sales saw some reasonable to good quality offered, but the larger percentage were light and of plain to very plain quality. Steers made mostly from $320 to $710/head, which equated to 185¢ to 260¢/kg lwt. Heifers made mostly between $250 and $500/head with restockers paying to a top of $625/head.

Prices better
The best vealers in the state were penned at Bairnsdale and this saw top quality B muscle European breed vealers make up to 230¢/kg with pens lots making around similar prices. Across the state good quality vealers made from 185¢ to 220¢/kg with similar quality supplementary fed yearlings making between 170¢ and 209¢/kg. Most of the other C muscle vealers and yearlings sold to processors from 165¢ to 215¢, and because these buyers were so keen, feeder cattle made mostly from 155¢ to 190¢/kg.

Prices for grown steers continued to rise with strong demand occurring between most of the regular buyers. Grown steers made from 155¢ to 176¢, while prime C3 and C4 bullocks made between 155¢ and 172¢/kg. Cow prices were cheaper toward the end of last week, and this was highlighted at Bairnsdale, which was 10¢ to 13¢/kg cheaper. However, this only brought that market back into line with others, which saw most better quality cows make from 120¢ to 142¢, and younger cows to 153¢/kg. Carcass weight prices were mostly between 225¢ and 275¢, averaging at 243¢kg for all weights and grades. Bulls were slightly cheaper, but still sold very well.

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