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 15 June 2007
clock icon 7 minute read


Rain failed to lift values
Despite good rain in places, numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS lifted 33%. Cows continued to dominate the selling pens in the export sections, while slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks remain in a relatively short supply. The rain had a little effect on export slaughter values, the top end quality in the cows was the only category to gain a few cents. Some medium weight classes managed to hold firm, while others fell in value by 5¢ to 6¢/kg. Steers and bullock prices hovered around the previous week's level, for both certified grainfeds, and those supplementary fed, or off pasture from western districts.

Markets early in the week experienced strong competition on the young lightweight cattle. However by mid- week the cold and wet conditions, combined with a large supply and a general lack of support from restockers, saw prices for calves fall by 10¢ to 20¢/kg at Dalby. The large contingent of interstate operators present in previous weeks were absent, and local farmers preoccupied getting a winter crop in the ground, substantially reduced the buying panel. The restricted demand from restockers also allowed some of the lightweight feeder categories to ease in value also. The supply of slaughter grades of yearling steers and heifers more than adequately met demand and values suffered accordingly to ease by a few cents.

The grain sorghum market has risen this week off the back of a limited supply of old crop being held on-farm. New crop sorghum is showing some good levels of $215 to $220 ex farm depending on location.

Young cattle generally cheaper

Calves to restockers fell by 6¢ to 12¢, the largest sample averaging 169¢ and making to 205.2¢/kg. Trade lines eased by 2¢ to average 157¢ with sales to 169.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to restockers suffered a 17¢ reduction to average 174¢, and feeder lines were 5¢ cheaper at 177¢/kg. Vealer heifers generally went against the downward trend, with trade descriptions 10¢ dearer at 164¢, the occasional B muscled category to 205.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers lost 14¢ to average close 168¢, and feeder grades 6¢ cheaper at 170¢/kg. Certified grainfeds made to the occasional 191.2¢, with the majority of sales around 180¢/kg. Yearling heifers to the trade lost 9¢ to 10¢ with most sales in the early to mid-160¢/kg range.

Medium weight grown steers to feed made to a top of 180¢ with most around 168¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 172¢ and made to 188¢/kg. Bullocks made from 165¢ to 183.6¢ to average 175¢/kg. Cows to restockers improved 6¢ with sales to 124.2¢, a fair sample averaging 118¢/kg. Medium weight 3 scores to processors lost 5¢ to average 125¢/kg. Good heavy cows made from 134.2¢ to 158.2¢ to lift in value by 2¢ to average 145¢/kg.


Numbers decline
Cattle numbers fell nearly 25% at MLA’s NLRS reported centres due to the public holiday Monday. The absence of sales at Ballarat and Pakenham on Monday restricted supply, although this may have influenced numbers at other selling centres during the week with the Gippsland markets of Bairnsdale and Korumburra having increased offerings. Western districts throughput is subsiding while numbers in the north of the state have been steady.

Quality has been very mixed with a continual offload of plainer stock as producers consolidate herds for winter. Many producers are opting to sell unfinished stock in the anticipation of improved restocker demand, a higher proportion of lower yielding pens being sold both in the physical market and at store sales. Despite continuing lower supplies of the well finished young cattle, prices have not risen by any great amount. This aspect was illustrated by the EYCI actually falling 3.25c, which stood at 333.75c/kg on Thursday.

Strong feedlot and restocking orders have undoubtedly helped. Restocker have been active on lines with higher yield potential, although those lacking weight or with underperforming growth rates due to the difficult autumn have sold to restricted competition. Another reason at present for prices not being higher is quite a large supply of boxed beef coming into the state from the north, particularly Queensland.

Beef cow quality was plainer and some of the poorest conditioned light weights were substantially deducted in price. There were more dairy cows presented at Wodonga, Shepparton and Bairnsdale and demand generally weakened across most grades. Demand for cow and calf units is anticipated to pick up after recent rain.

Feedlot demand still strong

Vealer steers showed a varying price trend, the C3 averaged more or less unchanged at just over 200¢/kg. The top B muscled lots were not as dear as last week, and sold between 195¢ and 229.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers were dearer particularly for B muscled lots which ranged from 200¢ to 233.6¢ while the C3’s averaged 1¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. Yearling steers generally sold to strong competition as the B muscled lots made from 188.6¢ to 228¢/kg. Yearling heifer prices were also mixed as the C3’s were 2¢ to 6¢ dearer and B2 and B3 medium weights generally sold from 214¢ to 230.6¢/kg.

Heavy C4 steers averaged 3¢ easier at 181.1¢/kg. Most categories of bullocks were 2¢ easier, selling between 160¢ to 186¢/kg. Grown heifers and manufacturing steers were in shorter supply and of plainer quality at some selling centres.

Cow numbers, although reduced across the state, are still holding up remarkably well. Light 1 and 2 score mostly dairy breeds sold between 100¢ and 131¢/kg. Heavier beef cows were mainly dearer ranging from 125¢ to 158.6¢/kg to average close to 285¢kg cwt. Heavy dairy cows sold from 126¢ to 145¢/kg.

New South Wales

Disrupted week
Floods in some areas, good rain in others and the long weekend disrupted cattle yardings in many centres but had no impact on a generally stronger market for most categories. Numbers and quality varied considerably with many centres reporting much smaller offerings but there were also significant increases at Casino, Bathurst and Inverell. With no sales at Wagga, Forbes and Tamworth, numbers overall fell and this may well have helped the stronger market, particularly for export cattle which remain constrained by the rising A$.

The best demand was again for restocking and feeder steers with large price jumps at a number of centres. At Scone, where 100 to 200mm of rain fell, numbers halved to assist a 14¢ to 40¢ rise for restocking vealers and other young cattle were 6¢ to 20¢/kg dearer. At Bathurst, numbers lifted in an improved quality yarding and light restocking vealer steers were 14¢ dearer while light yearling steers to feeders lifted 17¢/kg.

Young cattle quality reflected the winter conditions with most yardings characterised by well finished supplementary fed stock and very plain unfinished lots. At Casino where a larger offering contained increased numbers of vealers showing the affects of early winter, all but the better bred restocking steers were 2¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper.

Export sections remain dominated by cows with grown steers limited in number and quality, although Gunnedah reported an improved offering which resulted in price increases of 15¢ to 18¢/kg for processing lots. Most centres also reported reduced selections of heavy 4 score cows and more light and medium weights.

Most cattle dearer

Cattle markets generally held the higher levels of last week or reported further price gains with limited numbers of quality stock under-pinning strong demand. Restockers and feedlot operators were again the main force in the young cattle market, showing particular interest in well-bred light steers. Across all sales, medium weight vealer steers to restock lifted 7¢ to reach 232¢ and averaged 197¢/kg. Light yearling steers to feed lifted by 20¢, ranging from 160¢ to 215¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling steers to slaughter were 5¢ dearer, reaching 220¢/kg. Most heifer and yearling heifers struggled to hold values and averaged just firm to 4¢/kg cheaper. The main exception were light weight restocking yearlings which average 14¢ dearer, reaching 205¢ and averaging 169¢/kg. Odd sales of prime slaughter heifers ranged from 200¢ to 215¢/kg.

Grown steers and heifers fluctuated for a mixed quality offered and prices averaged 2¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper. Heavy steers reached 190¢ and averaged 170¢/kg. Grown heifers traded from 130¢ to 160¢/kg. Demand for light cows ranged from firm to 6¢/kg dearer as restockers remained active on suitable lines. Most light weights made from 94¢ to 120¢/kg while medium and heavy weights were generally firm to slightly dearer, most from 120¢ to 150¢/kg.

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