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 29 June 2007
clock icon 11 minute read


Rain causes havoc
Cattle numbers showed a slight rise at MLA’s NLRS reported centres, with 7% more penned across the state. The northern markets of Shepparton and Wodonga increased 57% and 30% respectively and Ballarat was also up slightly, although all other centres had reductions. Wodonga yarded an increased number of grown steers of very mixed quality, whilst grown heifers were in short supply. An additional lotfeeder at Wodonga added to competition on the young cattle grades which resulted in a dearer trend. An additional processor was also present at the Wodonga cow sale which also had a positive influence on rates. At Shepparton, the increased penning contained more dairy cows and trade cattle and less well covered beef cows.

The highlight possibly didn’t appear until Thursday evolving around Bairnsdale, where, with torrential rain and rising creeks, agents and buyers were limited to truck only access and the sale still managed to go ahead. The cattle numbers however were cut in half, which, considering the fact that most of the supplying and surrounding region was under flood, was nothing short of a miracle. Due to significant rain, all Gippsland centres offered lower yardings. Bairnsdale was hardest hit, with a reduction of just over 44%. In the Western Districts cattle quality remains predominantly plain. Some recent rainfall has restricted numbers and improved competition.

Lower supplies both in Victoria and interstate resulted in improved competition across the majority of grades. The EYCI on Thursday stood at 339.25c which was up by 3.75c/kg cwt from the previous Thursday, after a solid recent trend with little fluctuation occurring.

Fluctuating price trend

Vealer steers averaged cheaper for B2 and 3 scores by 4c to 19c with best price being 229.6c/kg for medium weights. Vealer heifers generally suffered the same fate, with B2 and 3 scores being 4c to 17c/kg cheaper but this time the heavy heifers made the top price of 225c/kg. The C3 vealer heifers averaged unchanged to 4c easier at 187c/kg. Yearling steers also varied, with the C3 medium weights 3c better but 2c/kg easier for the heavy weights. Yearling heifers averaged 1c to 7c easier for C3 heifers, with the best lots selling to 226c/kg for B muscles.

The C4 bullocks averaged 3c to 9c dearer at 184c, whilst C4 heavy steers averaged 3c dearer closing 182.5c/kg. The cow trend continues to fluctuate from centre to centre. With the high A$, exporters are feeling the pinch. Medium and heavy 3 and 4 score beef cows mostly made 116.2c to 164.2c, averaging 1c dearer to 6c/kg cheaper. Light 1 and 2 score, principally dairy bred cows, averaged 1c easier to 7c dearer, at 55c to 131.6c/kg. The US Cow indicator finished at 131.7c, an increase of 3c/kg on last Thursday.

South Australia

Cattle numbers slipping
Numbers retreated at the SA LE with only 942 cattle offered. These sold to limited buying orders with one Victorian wholesaler absent, combining with only some interest on young cattle coming from SA’s largest processor, as they enter their annual maintenance break. Supplementary fed young cattle were few, with an abundance of plain quality offered that generally led to buyers being more selective at generally lower levels. Cows probably were most affected due to the lack of competition as carcase weights slipped back into the mid 200c/kg price range.

Naracoorte on the other hand had an increased yarding of 1,056 head. This was the result of the large number of PTIC cows and vealers offered from Weroona Angus (Keith) that had obviously been suffering from the harsh conditions of the past 12 months.

Mt. Gambier’s yarding of 1,092 head less sold to strong competition despite the young cattle being plainer, with solid Victorian processor inquiry on a large run of 546 cows lifting prices up to 158¢/kg for young fresh quality cows. Overall most young cattle sold to steady trade, feeder, restocker and processor demand, with a couple of orders returning after a reasonably long break at Naracoorte.

There has also been some concern shown by the Wattle Range Council at the dwindling numbers at the Millicent saleyards, with a plea for local producers to support them before they may have to close due to them being unviable to maintain. This is despite the excellent quality vealers yarded for 3 to 4 months each year.

Mixed results

Few vealer steers were sourced by the trade, with the majority selling to feeder, restocker and backgrounding competition mainly between 180¢ and 220¢/kg. While a few more vealer heifers sold to the trade at rates between 166¢ and 212¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders sourced the largest percentage at prices ranging from 155¢ to 195¢/kg, or 6¢/kg either side of unchanged. Feeder orders provided the trade with strong competition on yearling steers that sold mainly to all interested parties between 160¢ and 206¢/kg. The majority of sales ranged from 2¢ dearer, down to 21¢/kg easier for plain lightweights. Yearling heifers were one category that attracted a weaker trend as most sold at rates 1¢ to 10¢ less, and mainly from 135¢ to 190¢/kg.

Grown steer prices tended to remain reasonably stable due to the small numbers offered, with C3 and C4 sales mainly between 165¢ and 186¢, or mostly in the mid 300¢/kg cwt price range. Cow prices were generally between 3¢ easier, and 6¢ dearer in fluctuating sales. Mt. Gambier prices probably the best as most 3 to 5 scores sold from 140¢ to 158¢/kg, or up around 300¢/kg cwt.

Western Australia

Wide spread rain brings hope
For many parts of the southern Agricultural districts, the past week has seen a considerable turn around in seasonal fortunes with several fronts having crossed the coast since the weekend. Several others have been forecast for the coming four days or so. For many areas in the Midwest this could quite possibly be the breaking of the drought, but having said this there still remain areas in eastern agricultural districts that again failed to receive much moisture and continue to be desperate for moisture. The southwest corner and south coastal areas now have a chance to gain much needed feed and water levels.

Mustering activity is in full swing in the pastoral districts with live export still the major marketing focus. Supplementary feed costs remain a large concern for producer and feedlotter alike with the prices for both grain and hay again being quoted higher each week. As far as feedlots are concerned many are currently sceptical about placing cattle on fed for a turnoff in the spring due to a lack of forward contract pricing from processors, who currently remain over supplied by grain fed cattle.

The encouraging rainfall that many in the Agricultural districts received over the weekend saw saleyard volumes decrease dramatically. The largest falls were recorded to lightweight store grades, but despite this they remained the largest class sold. Slaughter grades were consigned in lower values with cows and grain finished yearlings the larger of these. The larger percentage of stores again created a fair to plain quality yarding throughout the three sales.

Cow and bull values fall

The majority of vealers sold continued to be lightweights although their numbers were lower as with heavy cattle supplies. Demand from the local trade and retailers remained brisk for better-conditioned drafts with plainer conditioned lots receiving solid south-western grazier interest. Grain finished yearling supplies were reasonable. Trade competition remained very selective and values were subsequently quoted over a wide range dependant upon quality. The market also saw a solid under pinning from feeders and overall the market maintained recent week’s quotes. Grass finished yearlings were all but non-existent and were predominately purchased by feeders. A considerable drop was recorded in the overall quality of the stores forwarded for sale. Despite there being a reasonable feeder and grazier demand recorded, it was very weight dependant. Better quality drafts sold firmly while there was a distinct fall in the rates of plainer quality stores of both sexes.

Weaker competition was realised in the cow and bull markets with one export works order absent from the market. Subsequently the values of both were quoted at lower rates. Demand from the live sector for lightweight bulls was erratic and values were paid over a wide range.

New South Wales

Rain halts supply
Throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards declined 29%, after patchy follow up rain was received throughout the state. A similar scenario occurred at the same time last year and when combined with the end of the financial year causing some stock to be held back, numbers fell at all centres. Almost all centres penned fewer numbers, with the largest reductions at Wagga, Inverell and Gunnedah. Casino penned the largest yarding, with vealer turnoff in full swing and large numbers of young cattle entering the market from the North Coast. North West and New England supply tightened with light showers and cooler temperatures during the week. Crops are emerging well in the northern region giving an encouraging outlook for crop supplemented and finished cattle.

Demand was bolstered in northern markets by additional Queensland buyers, with processors purchasing leaner cattle than usual due to the shorter numbers available north of the border. Central West yardings sold to solid demand, with strong price improvements at Forbes and Bathurst. Cow prices topped at Bathurst, Dubbo gained the highest Japan ox average and feeder steer prices at Forbes were the standout across the state. Wagga buyers reacted to the restricted supply which assisted competition and enhanced prices. This was despite Wagga’s yarding being predominantly secondary yearlings with limited prime vealers.

Cattle quality has been very mixed, with the cooler wet conditions having an impact on feed conversions. The lush green feed emerging in some areas is running through without improving condition, whilst in other areas stock are chasing the green pick and only maintaining condition at best.

Prices strengthen

The main impetus behind prices improving was tighter numbers at all centres, while the lack of availability of top quality slaughter grades meant the best pens received strong demand. Vealer steers were dearer to all buying sectors, with processors paying 182¢, lotfeeders 194¢ and restockers 189¢/kg for medium weights. Vealer heifers to the trade gained 8¢ to average 174¢ and lotfeeders paid around the 170¢/kg mark, which was a similar rise.

Yearling steers to the trade lifted 3¢ to average 195¢ for medium weights and heavy yearling steers were 6¢ more at 187¢/kg. These prices are on par with the same time last year; with Wagga having the highest average for C3s. Yearling steers to feeders were firm at 192¢ and 5¢ higher to restockers at 184¢/kg. Processors paid firm rates for yearling heifers, with C3s averaging 176¢/kg.

Export steer prices were around firm, with a top indicator of 188¢ at Dubbo and a low of 166¢/kg at Scone. Heavy grown steers averaged 176¢ to 179¢/kg for the better pens and bullocks averaged firm to slightly cheaper at 174¢/kg. Cow prices were strongest at Forbes and Gunnedah. Medium cows gained 5¢ and averaged 127¢ to 136¢/kg depending on fat score.


Follow-up rain
Good falls of follow-up rain fell across a large area of the state. The useful falls in most of the supply areas reduced the movement of stock by further 34% at saleyards covered by MLA’s NLRS. The cancellation of Longreach sale again for the second week, plus some other large selling centres declining to sell, has had a big impact on slowing the flow of stock.

The smaller yardings in the south of the state contained a large percentage of certified grainfeds and supplementary fed lines, which in turn gave a good lift to the overall quality. The general shorter supply saw most descriptions of stock climb to a higher level of value. The cow portion in most selling centres displayed a wide variation in quality with increased numbers of light lean descriptions. Nevertheless the poorer grades mostly met stronger competition and this was most evident at Warwick. The rain helped boost restocker enthusiasm on the poor condition cows with improvements of over 20¢/kg in places. Slaughter grades also enjoyed a dearer market with gains 3¢ to 4¢ very common.

Calves mostly only improved by a few cents, however yearling steers to slaughter generally gained around 10¢/kg. Yearling heifers followed a similar trend with improvements of 5¢ to 7¢/kg. Heavy steers and bullocks to slaughter gained 2¢ to 6¢, with processors battling to secure adequate supplies, as the overall numbers of these classes reduce on a weekly basis.

Similar to the previous week old crop grain sorghum is being tightly held, however at the same time there is only limited demand.

Values lift

Calves to the trade improved 5¢ to average close to 165¢ with sales to 178.6¢, and restocker grades showed little change at 170¢ after selling to a top of 185.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to feed experience a lift of over 20¢, with sales to 204.2¢ to average just under 200¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade showed a small rise, and sold from 162.2¢ to 190.2¢/kg. Slaughter grades of yearling steers gained 10¢ to 12¢, the heavy end mostly sold close to 185¢ and the certified grainfeds 191¢ with sales to 197.6¢/kg. Yearling heifers suitable for the trade improved 5¢ to 7¢ with the majority making in the mid 170¢/kg range, with a few sales to 193.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed generally sold around 7¢ dearer at 168¢ with sales to 180¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 180¢ and made to 191.6¢, the grainfed component reaching 196.2¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 183¢, and topped at 193.2¢/kg. Some very heavy certified grainfed bullocks averaged close to 185¢/kg. Cows to restocker's averaged 104¢ for the lightweights. Medium weight 2 scores to processors generally sold around 118¢ and 3 scores 134¢/kg. Heavy cows made to 163.2¢ to average 6¢ dearer at 150¢/kg.

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