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 6 April 2007
clock icon 8 minute read

South Australia

Only two sales
While cattle numbers fell by 270 at SA LE; there was a larger yarding at Naracoorte. The increase was mainly due to a large number of plain to store quality Murray Grey and Angus cows from a property dispersal. The cows selling by liveweight ranged between 62¢ and 109¢/kg to mainly restocker inquiry, while their calves sold in the open auction sale also to restocker activity.

Overall quality remains very mixed which is to be expected after such a long dry spell, combining with colder nights that have started to creep in now that autumn is upon us. There were only a few pens of prime young cattle, most having been supplementary fed, or finished on irrigated lucerne that sold to strong trade and some local butcher competition. However, the balance at both centres contained mainly 1 and 2 score unfinished stock that were more suitable for feeder, backgrounding and restocker requirements who provided very strong inquiry as the perceived shortage of stock in the coming months starts to become a reality.

The usual trade and processor buyers were operating and included a couple of interstate operators at SA LE where prices rose to 228¢ on selected vealer steer sales, and 222¢/kg for B2 vealer heifers. The trade secured a large percentage of yearling steers at SA LE, while most at Naracoorte were sourced by feeder orders due to their unfinished condition as yearling heifer sales generally retreated. The few grown steers offered were easier, while cows were dearer at SA LE, and weaker at Naracoorte.

Prices impacted
With the Easter Holiday break upon us, cattle prices were generally affected by this fact and the poorer quality offered. Apart from isolated sales of vealer steers to the trade that were 16¢ dearer, most others sold at generally dearer levels with most sales ranged between 170¢ and 220¢/kg, although feeders and restockers tended to pull the pin at 189¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales fluctuated 1¢ to 5¢ either side of unchanged to a mixture of buying orders, and mainly between 140¢ and 200¢/kg. The trade sourced a large percentage of yearling steers, but still had to contend with solid feeder and restocker inquiry at rates 1¢ to 3¢ either side of firm, and mainly between 145¢ and 180¢/kg. Yearling heifers generally sold to a weaker trend as most sold at 2¢ to 6¢ lower, with feeders and the trade sharing the spoils at rates mainly between 140¢ and 169¢/kg.

Only a small number of grown steers were sold with C3 sales 4¢ easier as all sales fell back below 170¢/kg. While restockers were keen to source most of the dispersal cows below $400/head, processor purchases generally ranged between 3¢ and 6¢ easier, to 2¢ to 4¢/kg dearer.


Yardings fall
A fall of close to 70% in cattle numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported centres was certainly the highlight. The shorter working week had quite an affect with producers withholding numbers particularly after Tuesday which saw all reported centres well down for supplies. Going against the trend was Ballarat where an increased penning was offered. This was a direct result of the poor seasonal conditions that prevail in the supply area, plus at there will be no market next Monday.

Despite many areas being in drought, several drafts of good quality well finished 3 and 4 score cattle are still being marketed, quite a fair percentage of these however have been supplementary fed.

With the lack of supply, many buyers did not operate at a number of selling centres and some did not attend either due their respective works still had plenty of cattle on hand to kill over the next few working days.

Although no rain is forecasted in the immediate future, if another steady 20 to 30mm should happen to fall, much of the countryside will produce feed as at present several regions have responded after some rains with a green tinge now appearing.

Prices mixed
Vealers averaged firm to dearer at most selling centres, B and C 2 and 3 score steers made mostly from 150¢ to 225.6¢/kg with the overall quality not as good as last week. The C3 vealer heifers were mainly 3¢ to 5¢/kg dearer at with the best B muscled pens selling from 200¢ to 219¢/kg. Yearling steers produced several consignments that had been supplementary fed, and most made from 188.6¢ to 221¢/kg. The C3 steers averaged close to 190¢/kg to be 2¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifers varied generally depending on weight, as the C3 medium weights averaged 6¢/kg dearer at 174.4¢/kg, while heavy weights averaged 5¢/kg cheaper at 165¢/kg.

Good quality heavy steers averaged close to firm selling from 150¢ to 175.2¢/kg. Nearly all light and some medium weight cows were cheaper. Light 1 scores were mostly 10¢ to 20¢/kg cheaper however at odd centres some were dearer and this resulted in an extremely widespread range from 35¢, up to 106¢/kg. Medium weight 2 and 3 score cows averaged 2¢ to 3¢/kg easier, selling from 95¢ to 120¢/kg whilst the best 3 and 4 score heavy beef cows sold from 114¢ to 142¢/kg. Heavy Friesians ranged from 96¢ to 128¢/kg.

Western Australia

Quality failing
The far north of the state continues to enjoy a solid wet season, with the Pilbara and Gascoyne areas receiving sporadic thunderstorm activity. Further to the south only very limited falls were received throughout the south coastal areas. The majority of the Agricultural districts have remained hot and dry with no break to the new season in sight. Feed supplies in paddocks have all but disappeared and with this year’s calving now in full swing supplementary hand feeding is a must.

Cattle numbers were lower, primarily due to the cancellation of the Great Southern sale. The other two sales though did have limited numbers in their yardings. The vast majority were again sourced from local areas with extremely limited supplies of pastoral cattle included.

Quality remains low with most being in fair to plain condition. Slaughter grade numbers continue to account for a very small percentage of numbers with the majority of these having been supplementary fed. Heavy steer and heifer supplies were very limited with cows and young stores the dominating classes. Trade competition retreated from the higher levels recorded in several classes last week and it is difficult to say whether or not Easter was a contributing factor to this weaker demand. Feeder demand was more consistent on store categories with rates generally higher than recent week’s. Grazier demand remained low and is not expected to rise until any real rainfall levels have been received. Live export demand rose marginally but continued to restrict to light and medium weight bulls.

Light stores dearer
Vealer and calf numbers were both very limited. Demand from the trade remains solid with no change recorded to these categories. Weaker trade demand was recorded though in supplementary fed yearling trade weight steers and heifers, which forced the market to retreat further from the previous weeks lower levels. This weaker demand continues to be hampered by the on going scarcity in slaughter space. Grass finished trade weight yearling rates remained reasonably similar with competition continuing to be recorded from the feeder sector. Lightweight stores accounted for the largest percentage of numbers. An increased feeder demand saw the rates of both exes rise throughout the weight classes.

Heavy steer and bullock values slipped from the levels they have enjoyed in recent weeks with their heavy weight female counterparts were all but non-existent. The quality of the cow yarding remained reasonable. The heavy weight 3 and 4 score suffered falls under weaker trade competition, while medium and lightweight sales maintained their levels.

Heavy weight bull sales continued firmly, while lightweights enjoyed increased activity between graziers and the live export sector that pushed rates higher by slightly.


Numbers decline
Numbers traditionally eased back in the week leading up to Easter, with physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS recording a decline of 22%. Buyer support was good at most selling centres with a strong presence of interstate operators, however, the lift in value for the young steers and bullocks kept the southern processors out of the market on these grades.

Quality continues to slide as feed situations worsen, and producers continue to offload large numbers of young stock, with many being weaned straight into the saleyards. Values for calves experienced a wide variation with quality being the major issue, with well bred grades still commanding a fairly high rate from restockers from more favourable districts. Slaughter lines of yearling steers were scarce, and the heifer portion was also in relatively short supply. However this had little effect on values with most categories experiencing little change.

Steers and bullocks were in limited numbers, with the already short supply being influenced by the reduced working week. Prices responded and the decline experienced in recent weeks turned around, with improvements of 6¢ to 8¢/kg, and considerably more for certified grainfeds in the small samples available.

The slide in cow values also came to a stop with most categories improving. Processors were very active on all grades and were able to absorb the increasing supplies of poorer categories, and in some centres were the major buyers of the 1 scores. Restockers were generally pushed out of the market on the general run of plain condition lines, who turned their attention to the younger lightweight categories.

Cows dearer
Calves to the trade averaged 166¢ and reached a top of 182¢, while a large number of restocker grades averaged close to 189¢ with sales to 224¢/kg. Vealer steers to feeders struggled at times to maintain the previous week's rates, and generally eased by 9¢, to average 187¢/kg. Vealer heifers mostly sold to the trade at firm to slightly dearer prices, with the C2s averaging 167¢, and better grades reaching 207.2¢/kg. Yearling steers to feeder operators generally sold to a strong inquiry, however the variation in quality saw averages ease. A large sample mostly sold around 178¢ to 179¢, while lightweight restocker categories averaged 184¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 167¢ and made to 174.6¢, while medium weight slaughter grades averaged 176¢ the occasional sale to 200¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed remained firm. Heavy steers destant for export slaughter made to 174¢ to 190¢/kg. A handful of good heavy bullocks averaged 184¢ and made to 187¢/kg. The certified grainfed component of the heavy steers and bullocks made to 202.2¢/kg. Medium weight score 1 cows averaged 4¢ dearer at 98¢/kg. Good heavy cows picked up 6¢ to top at 157.6¢ with most sales close to 144¢/kg.

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