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 23 March 2007
clock icon 11 minute read


Cows dominate
The continuing harsh conditions in the southeast corner of the state forced an increase in supply of 25% at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS. Cattle from western districts are virtually nonexistent at markets at Toowoomba and Dalby with the vast majority being sourced from local areas. Overall quality was once again very mixed with producers being forced to offload stock. The tendency of producers to cut into the core of their breeding herd as winter draws near has already begun. This practice, however, will dramatically increase in the next two weeks if beneficial rain does not fall.

Cows continue to dominate the export slaughter sections at most markets. Values tumbled a further 5¢ to 10¢/kg for the 3 and 4 scores. Steer and bullock prices also experienced a downturn in values with falls of 9¢ to 10¢/kg for the general run of slaughter categories. There was a fair penning of certified grainfed bullocks at Dalby, however a large percentage were out of specification grades and were severely discounted.

The slide in values also flowed onto the slaughter categories of young cattle, particularly the heifer portion. Nevertheless the top end of the feeder and restocker grades sold to a very strong inquiry, with any downward movement in price due mainly to quality.

Considering also the present downturn in the export slaughter market medium weight grown steers suitable to feed met very strong demand from a large panel of buyers from the feedlot sector. Buyer attendance was strong, which also included a number of operators from interstate.

Feeders firm to dearer
Calves to slaughter slipped in value to average 176¢/kg, however restocker grades improved in price to average close to 198¢ with sales to 233.2¢/kg. Vealers to backgrounders or feeder operators improved 10¢ to average 200¢/kg. Vealer heifers mostly sold to the trade 2¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper, with the better grades averaging 190¢ with sales to 209.2¢/kg. Yearling steers purchased by feeder operators showed a few cents rise in some categories with quality the major issue. The largest sample averaged in the high 180¢ to 190¢/kg range. Some B muscle lines to restocker's made to 230.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers to slaughter experienced a fall of 8¢ to average 175¢/kg, while medium weight feeder lines averaged a similar amount.

Grown steers going to feed for the export market remained unchanged at 183¢ with sales to 190¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 182¢ with some to 194.6¢/kg. Heavy bullocks sold in a range from 175¢ to 188.2¢ with most around 183¢/kg. Medium weight score 3 cows were in the largest numbers and averaged 130¢/kg. Heavy 4 score cows made to an isolated 161¢ with most sales close to 144¢/kg.

New South Wales

Plain quality in young cattle
Despite some seasonal improvement in favoured regions, the legacy of more than a year of drought conditions was clearly evident at MLA’s NLRS reported sales. Vealers and yearlings of mixed quality and in small, broken lines were prominent at nearly all selling centres. Producers are hoping to take advantage of recent price rises to clear any remaining saleable stock before a potentially tough winter sets in. A number of centres reported large numbers of vealers in consignments, indicating producers’ lack of confidence in the season ahead.

Gunnedah, after a month of reduced yardings, reported an increase of 400 head in a much plainer offering that included more heifers and vealers. Wagga also yarded an additional 400 head and quality was again very mixed. The main exception was Casino where numbers dropped by 1,100 head at least partly in response to the cheaper market of the previous week.

The market at all centres reflected the mixed quality of the offerings and prices fluctuated considerably. Restockers and feedlots were again the main buyers of young cattle with light vealer steers and heavier feeder categories generally maintaining or improving prices but most other lines met slightly weaker competition.

Plainer quality was also a factor among cow offerings although the limited numbers of grown steers and heifers showed some improvement at a number of centres. Light weight cows continued to meet solid restocker competition, although at slightly reduced prices Medium and heavy weights met some resistance to recent stronger markets and were generally 2¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper and as much as 10¢/kg lower at some sales.

Most cattle cheaper
After a month of strengthening demand, the market lost some ground with young cattle buyers resisting recent high prices and concerns about the rising $A impacting on export categories. Light vealer steers returning to the paddock held close to firm and heavy feeder yearling steers improved by 2¢ to 5¢/kg. Nearly all other young cattle, however, recorded falls of 3¢ to 7¢/kg and up to 14¢/kg for trade vealers. Steer vealers to restockers made to 245¢/kg to average 208¢, or just 2¢/kg less than last week. Light yearling steers to feed and restock were 4¢ to 7¢ cheaper, averaging 190¢/kg. Medium weight feeder steers were 3¢ cheaper but the heavy weights gained up to 5¢ to range from 170¢ to 205¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feed or kill remained steady at an average of 174¢/kg.

In the export section, heavy grown eased 4¢ to average 181c/kg for the C4s. Grown heifers showed little change and average 165¢/kg. All cow weights eased 1¢ to 4¢ to processors and restocking lines were up to 7¢/kg cheaper. Most of the light weights ranged from 90¢ to 125¢/kg while better conditioned medium and heavy weights traded from 125¢ to 150¢/kg.


Numbers climb
Exceptional circumstances in Gippsland led to a large increase in the supply of both young and grown cattle for this part of the state, while other markets were slightly smaller, or a shade larger. Because the public holiday the previous week saw no Monday sales, both Pakenham and Ballarat offered much larger than normal sales this Monday. However, supply was also larger at Korumburra with the burgeoning drought conditions in south and west Gippsland assisting in the largest ever cow sale. Being in the middle of the week, the larger supply saw demand ease for Thursday markets, where cows were considered, although demand remained strong for all other cattle.

The quality of young cattle continues to decline, which has affected the EYCI figure with the close of trade price on Thursday being 342¢, which was 5.5¢/kg cwt lower than last week. This is interesting considering the strength of demand for some young cattle, which has lifted price averages across the state for most of the week. It has been noted the feedlots have been purchasing a lot more of the plainer condition heifers, which will be sold to supermarkets when they are fed. Trade buyers have been purchasing a larger percentage of the C muscle young cattle leaving fewer for the feed-on trade.

Approximately 40% of the total yarding reported by MLA’s NLRS were cows, and this gave the opportunity for a price reduction late in the week as processors filled abattoirs, plus there were concerns by the rising exchange rate of the Dollar.

Prices increase
Young cattle sold very well throughout the week with further increases of 3¢ to 14¢/kg. This saw most of the better quality B muscle vealers and supplementary fed yearlings make between 200¢ and 228¢/kg. However, very strong competition for a line of 6 steer vealers, weighing 403kg lwt, saw these calves top the state at 240.2¢/kg. Generally the quality of the young cattle offered has slipped, inflicting further gains for processors with weakening dressing percentages affecting the outcome. Feedlot, restocker and trade competition saw most C muscle cattle make from 160¢ to 200¢, while the majority of the plainer D muscle grades made between 140¢ and 175¢/kg.

Strong competition for grown steers at Gippsland sales saw prices here increase up to 14¢/kg. Across the state prime C3 and C4 bullocks and grown steers ranged from 145¢ to 176¢/kg. Strong demand for cows at Pakenham and Korumburra saw most cows average around 275¢/kg cwt, while other markets were firm. A whopping 2,709 cows were penned, and live weight prices were between 125¢ and 162¢/kg for better quality grades, while most 1 and 2 score made from 95¢ to 132¢/kg. Prices at other saleyards were generally 10¢/kg lower than these, which saw other carcass weight prices average between 249¢ and 260¢/kg.

Western Australia

Numbers on the decline
Cattle numbers retreated at all sales reported by MLA’s NRLS. There was a slightly smaller yarding at Midlands with 1,331, followed by reduced yardings at Boyanup with only 318; and only 740 at Mt. Barker. Apart from a few pens of supplementary fed yearlings, including a small number of MSA grain fed heifers at Mt. Barker, overall quality was very mixed on young cattle, with cows in plain to prime quality.

There were a few more appraisal cattle offered, including 43 Murray Greys at Mt. Barker, some with calves at foot that attracted prices between $580 and $810/unit. Some that had been running with bulls sold between $400 and $500/head; and others in very plain condition couldn’t raise that much interest and sold between $148 and $260/head.

Most vealers were only in 1 and 2 score condition and more suitable to feeder and restocker requirements, with trade purchases limited to just four steers and six heifers. Feeders were also active on yearling steers and heifers at fluctuating rates, with supplementary fed and grain finished C muscled steers selling to 189¢/kg, with a single B muscled steer selling to a peak of 209¢, and B3 heifer topping the State at 211¢/kg.

Grown steers tended to sell to live export and feeder activity, with once again processor inquiry limited on the 134 head offered. Grown heifer numbers slipped back below 90 head and sold mainly to the trade. Cow prices were hard to follow at times as feeders, restockers, live exporters and processors provided competition.

Fluctuating trends
Despite the smaller numbers most categories tended to fluctuate, this mainly due to the mixed quality offered. Vealer steers were mostly 2¢ to 11¢ easier, although one sale of very light D1’s peaked at 195¢ or nearly 50¢/kg dearer. However aside from that one most rates were between 160¢ and 188¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales ranged from 1¢ and 13¢/kg dearer, down to 7¢ to 10¢ easier depending where you were; as most sold between 145¢ and 178¢, with one C2 feeder purchase reaching 209¢/kg.

Yearling steers were generally dearer, although some feeder rates were slightly lower as most achieved rates between 145¢ and 188¢/kg to feeders, 155¢ to 169¢ to live exporters, and from 165¢ to 209¢/kg for grain finished. Yearling heifers followed a similar pattern and were mainly 2¢ to 15¢/kg dearer to a mixture of buying orders mostly between 130¢ and 184¢/kg, with grain finished achieving the higher rates.

Grown steers over a wide range of weights sold mainly to feeder and live export inquiry between 140¢ and 173¢/kg, while processors paid from 130¢ to 161¢/kg for C muscled steers. Cow prices varied from 1¢ to 12¢/kg dearer, and 1¢ to 9¢ easier as most sold between 85¢ and 105¢/kg.

South Australia

Cattle numbers increase
While SA LE had a marginally larger yarding, Naracoorte’s numbers fell. Mt. Gambier had an unexpected larger yarding of 2,153 after only drawing for 2,000 head. Millicent’s yarding fell as another week of warm to hot dry weather took its toll on remaining pastures.

While quality at Naracoorte was very mixed and contained predominantly young cattle suitable for feeder and restocker orders, SA LE and Mt. Gambier’s quality improved. The appearance of two Victorian wholesalers at the SA LE allowed prices to increase, while not rising to such an extent at Naracoorte. Feeders and restockers were very active on vealer steers that led to prices continuing to rise. Trade purchases were limited at Naracoorte, but more widespread at SA LE and Mt. Gambier due to the better quality being offered. Wholesalers were able to source larger numbers of vealer heifers at dearer levels as isolated sales rose above 200¢/kg. Feeder and restockers were also active on a wide range of quality. Even with the increase of prime yearling steers available at SA LE and Mt. Gambier prices continued to rise, with yearling heifers also following suit with their sales not that far removed from the steers.

Grown steer sales also increased on the back of strong wholesale and processor competition as more sales rose above the 170¢/kg mark, or 275¢ to 320¢/kg cwt for steers and bullocks. Cows were generally dearer as most sales rose above the 120¢/kg mark irrespective of condition, and carcase weight prices mainly between 220¢ and 260¢/kg.

Strong Competition on all Categories
Despite the increased numbers, the improved quality was probably the catalyst for the strong competition that materialised as just about all categories sold at dearer levels. While the trade was more selective on the vealer steers at rates 5c to 8c dearer, there were isolated B2 sales that were up to 16c higher as 222¢/kg was achieved at SA LE. Feeder and restocker rates were 8c to 11¢ dearer and ranged mainly between 165¢ and 209¢/kg. While some feeder purchases of vealer heifers were 2¢ to 4¢ easier, most other sales to all interested parties were mainly 1¢ to 12¢ dearer in a 139¢ to 175¢ price range, with a few sales rising above the 200¢/kg mark. Yearling steers were another 3¢ to 9¢ dearer, as prices ranged mainly between 155¢ and 184¢/kg. Yearling heifers mirrored the steers and were generally 3¢ to 11¢ more, as most sold from 142¢ to 177¢/kg.

Prices were 2¢ to 6¢ dearer on a good quality run of mainly C3 grown steers and bullocks as most sold in the mid 160¢/kg price range. While some D1 and D2 cow sales were 5¢ to 7¢ easier, all other categories were 1¢ to 9¢/kg dearer.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.