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 30 March 2007
clock icon 11 minute read

Western Australia

More rain in north
The extreme far north of the state and parts of the interior has once again enjoyed further cyclonic rainfall that will only add to their growing season. The majority of the state however remained fine and dry with some isolated showers recorded on and surrounding south coastal districts. In the southern Ag districts paddock feed is all but gone with the greatest majority bare. Supplementary feeding is continuing. Calving is now in full swing for producers with all eyes looking skyward for a good opening rain. Cattle numbers at all three reported markets were lower. Locally bred consignments once again made up for the greatest majority of numbers sold with pastoral supplies all but non-existent. Quality remained extremely mixed throughout all age and sex classes.

Young stores remained the largest class sold with the volumes of prime slaughter grades only minimally represented. Agents continue to comment that slaughter space remains at a premium with this factor remaining a hindrance to any improvement in trade competition.

Despite this, trade competition remained relatively similar to last week and with agents and producers alike predicting a tightening of numbers in the near future, it is expected that this will increase. This factor will probably be negated though given the two shortened weeks affected by Easter. Feeder and grazier demand were both slightly lower than what has been recorded of late, but this may have been due to a weakening in quality. Live export demand increased in multiple categories with several orders operational in the market.

Slaughter grades in tight supply
The numbers of vealers penned has dropped dramatically in recent weeks with quality sliding also. The majority were of lightweight and received reasonable trade and grazier competition. Prime trade weight yearlings were predominately grain fed with grass fed drafts lacking finish and polish. A more selective and conservative local trade demand and competition saw the values for both grain finished heifers and steers just manage to maintain recent quotes. Grass finished drafts were slightly luckier due to added live export interest on selected lines as feeders continued to purchase the majority.

The store yearling yarding was of a mixed quality and this did impact on the market. Generally the majority were of lighter weight categories less than 280kg lwt. Feeder and grazier demand both retreated slightly but values still remain higher than some agent’s expectations given the extreme weather and feed conditions being experienced.

Heavy weight steer, heifer and bullock supplies were that low that is makes quoting unwise irrespective of a similar trade interest. The cow market enjoyed increased local and export trade competition that lifted the market levels irrespective of weight or condition. Heavy weight bulls met an erratic market, while lightweights rose under improved live export demand.


No rain in sight
With virtually no rain in sight, producers continued to offload large volumes of stock. Supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS lifted marginally against the high levels of the previous week.

The trend of cow classes dominating the export sections continued. The recent fall in value experienced by cows turned around midweek with some lines improving in price. Processors were keen to purchase a wide variation in quality at Dalby, where 1 scores achieved a sharp rise in value, as meatworks competed against restockers. Steers and bullocks remain in relatively short supply however this had no effect on lifting values. Nevertheless prices for young certified grainfed heavy steers and bullocks increased due to additional support from southern operators. Medium weight grown steers suitable to feed on also followed a similar trend, where good quality lines still attracted a strong inquiry, while poorer categories were purchased at a discount.

The enormous penning of young cattle saw values tumble at markets early in the week. However despite the large supply being offered, mid and late week sales experienced a slight improvement. Good quality grades of yearling steers and heifers generally sold to strong inquiry with any price changes attributed to the deteriorating quality.

There was a large lift in numbers to mark the end of an era at Oakey. The final sale after approximately 64 years of operation included some excellent lines from the Goombungee Haden Show prime cattle exhibits. Values improved on some categories, and the very last beast to be purchased out of the Oakey saleyards attracted a lot of attention.

Quality impacts on prices
The exceptionally large number of calves offered suffered losses of up to 20¢/kg, with the largest numbers returning to the paddock 7¢ cheaper at 184¢/kg. Vealer steers sold to a mixed trend with slaughter and feeder categories losing ground while restocker grades improved slightly. Vealer heifers purchased by the trade eased in value by 4¢ to11¢ to average 178¢, with sales to 199.2¢/kg. The better class of yearling steers to feed managed to reach 198.2¢, however a wide selection allowed averages to ease with most around 185¢/kg. The report for yearling heifers was similar with average prices easing, however the top end category returned a high price, with B muscled grades reaching 220¢/kg. Most of the others to slaughter made around 175¢ and feeder descriptions close to 174¢/kg.

The overall slip in the quality of the medium weight grown steers to feed saw prices range from 163¢ to 185.2¢/kg. Heavy C4 steers to export slaughter fell 4¢ to average 176¢/kg. The small supply of bullocks averaged 3¢ cheaper at 179¢/kg. A small selection of certified grainfed heavy steers and bullocks made to 197.2¢/kg. Heavy cows in the 4 score range averaged 138¢ and sold to 159.2¢/kg.


Numbers fall
At MLA’s NLRS reported centres, overall state yardings eased by nearly 11%. Pakenham and Wodonga numbers lowered, although both Warrnambool and Shepparton held steady on the recent larger pennings. Rain over the past week may have caused a reduction at some centres but in many cases this is too early to be a major factor, as further good follow up rain is needed before the colder late autumn and winter months set in.

Despite the drought conditions covering the majority of the state, producers have still been able to offer many well finished consignments of both young and grown cattle just off pasture feeding. Several consignments however, have been supplementary fed, utilising either grain, pellets, hay or in some cases of late, even green summer crop forage.

Competition wasn’t generally as strong from trade and export buyers. This was offset to some extent by the much stronger demand provided by principally feedlot buyers as they competed more keenly. Over the next few weeks it could be expected that competition from northern meat companies may wind down as supply improves in northern markets, as the traditional autumn turnoff begins in earnest. Northern operators have been underpinning demand at some centres, which is assisting demand to remain at current levels.

With light 1 and 2 scores cows dropping in price over the past fortnight, , several have been secured for restocking as values have fallen by 10¢ to 20¢/kg lwt or $50 to $100/head. Many are only bringing between $50 to $150/head.

Young cattle values hold
The C3 vealer steers, of all weights selling to slaughter, averaged 1¢ to 7¢ dearer and ranged from 152¢ to 211¢/kg. Feedlot buyers paid 150¢ to 197.6¢/kg. Vealer C3 heifers averaged firm to 3c easier with prices from 152c to 206.8c/kg. Yearling steers were in better supply, and in some cases improved in quality, with a top price of 220.6c/kg. Medium weight C3s averaged around 187¢/kg, to be unchanged. Yearling heifers averaged 10¢ less for medium weight C3s, but heavy weights were 10¢ dearer, selling from 135¢ to 206¢/kg.
Heavy bullocks averaged 1¢ to 2¢ easier with most making from 150¢ to 172.2c/kg. Heavy C 3 and 4 steers averaged 1¢ to 2¢ dearer however, at 148¢ to 175¢/kg. The general trend for most cows was cheaper, but with some centres reporting firm prices for the better 3 and 4 score principally beef cows. Some 3 score Friesians were also unchanged. Medium and heavy cows mainly sold from 117¢ to 144¢/kg. Some better quality European breed cows ranged from 139.5¢ to 156.4¢/kg, or around 250c/kg cwt. The light cows bought by processors ranged from 5¢ to 15¢ cheaper, selling from 70¢ to 112¢/kg or 220¢/kg cwt.

South Australia

Numbers similar
Cattle numbers remained similar to last week. SA LE yarded 1,450, while Naracoorte experienced a large increase of 460 head. Mt. Gambier had a smaller yarding of 1,740, with Millicent remaining similar with 456 head. Numbers in the Lower South East are starting to decline with little rain received since last Friday; however there were heavy rains in the mid North and Eyre Peninsula’s cropping regions.

Quality was quite mixed with SA LE not featuring last week’s top offering, and the South East only featuring some prime pens that attracted solid wholesale, processor and some supermarket competition. Feeder, restocker and backgrounding activity was quite strong on yardings that were more suited to their requirements with many cattle in only 1 and 2 score condition.

All this led to were fluctuating trends as some buyers became a little more discerning, while others seem to throw caution to the wind with reports of more rainfall over the next couple of days, as yet another cyclone comes into Western Australia from the Indian Ocean. Should this eventuate, then perhaps numbers may retreat with these rains probably one month ahead of what is normally expected in most regions, although the way weather patterns have been formulating over the past few seasons, most producers would be happy to receive what they can when it does rain. Vealer steers generally attracted lower rates, while the heifers went the other way, with yearlings fluctuating. Grown steers sold at unchanged rates with a couple of processors sourcing suitable steers to feed on, while cow prices were generally lower.

Prices generally dearer
With the upcoming Easter Holiday break, most buyers were keen to source numbers with only a couple of markets operating next week. Vealer steers were again sourced by feeder and restocker orders at rates 3¢/kg either side of unchanged in a 165¢ to 211¢ price range, while wholesale purchases were between 170¢ and 201¢/kg. Vealer heifers were generally 2¢ to 11¢/kg dearer selling to a mixture of buying orders over a very wide range of weights and quality, as most attracted rates between 142¢ and 201¢/kg.

Yearling steer sales were more evenly spread between the trade and feeders with some excellent quality bean finished medium and heavyweights at Millicent that peaked at 212¢/kg. Otherwise, most others sold between 145¢ and 185¢, or 1¢ to 2¢ dearer to the trade; and up to 6¢ easier to feeder and restockers. Well over 1,000 yearling heifers were offered, with the trade the main buyers at rates that fluctuated 5¢ to 6¢/kg either side of unchanged, with D muscled sales at the lower end.

Grown steers were 2¢ dearer on medium weights, while being 2¢ easier on heavy steers. Cows were mostly 2¢ to 11¢ easier at around 220¢ to 260¢/kg cwt.

New South Wales

Smaller, plainer yardings
Smaller, plainer yardings marked most MLA’s NLRS reported sales with producer confidence in the season the major influence on consignments. While feed remains scarce in most districts, some reasonable falls last week and over the weekend again gave producers some cause for optimism. Consignments reduced accordingly at those centres where rain had fallen and plainer quality and condition young cattle were prevalent in most yardings. Gunnedah recorded it lowest yarding of the year at 1,386 head. This compares to totals of around 4,000 throughout February. Wagga also had a significant drop in numbers to 1,485 after some useful rain in the supply area.

Despite the reduced supplies the market, while variable, was cheaper for most categories of young cattle, particularly for plainer quality stock going to restockers and feeders. Both of whom have become more discerning in the past few weeks. Limited numbers of well finished trade vealers and yearlings were the exception and these met stronger competition at most centres. Limited numbers of supplementary fed young cattle and odd pens of butcher veal were offered at some centres but the majority of the grass-fed young cattle were presented in only two score condition.

The pattern of light and plain stock was evident in the export section at many centres also. With grown steers in very limited supply throughout the state, cows filled most export pens and increasing numbers are being offered in light condition. This lower quality, combined with a steadily strengthening $A, influenced a generally weaker market with some centres reporting price falls of 10¢ to 15¢/kg for cows.

Markets weaken
The relatively few prime trade cattle and some of the better quality restocker and feeder steers held or improved prices at some centres but most young cattle descriptions lost further ground. With some feedlots not operating and restockers still cautious about the season, and with plainer descriptions more prevalent, average prices across all centres for young cattle lost 3¢ to 7¢/kg. Prime vealer heifers to processors defied the trend and lifted 5¢ to average 186¢/kg. Feeder yearling steers varied with light weights 3¢ cheaper overall but medium weights 3¢/kg dearer. Most ranged from 160¢ to 210¢/kg to average around 187¢/kg. As with the vealers, killable medium weight steers lifted 6¢ to average 199¢/kg. In the heifer section, light weights to feed were 4¢/kg cheaper and averaged 166¢ while medium and heavy heifers to processors held firm, averaging from 174¢ to 181¢/kg.

In a weaker export sector, heavy grown steers held firm at 178¢/kg but all other categories were cheaper. Grown heifers lost 6¢/kg to average 160¢ while light D2 cows were 4¢ cheaper, averaging 110¢/kg. Heavier cows were 3¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper on average with medium D3s averaging 126¢ and heavy D4s reaching 158¢ to average 135¢/kg.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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