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 27 July 2007
clock icon 11 minute read

South Australia

Numbers remain low
Despite numbers increasing at SA LE where 1,139 head were penned; and at Naracoorte where agents managed to yard 254 more, numbers still remain low. This is though the typical SA quiet selling period. Mt. Gambier had 877 or 166 less and certainly tested the resolve of the mainly Victorian contingent of buyers as numbers dry up across the border.

The return of a processor to the fray did not have that great an impact after resuming operations last week. They already have around two weeks kill booked in. Despite the extra competition, prices were generally mixed across all categories. The high A$ has also had a impact on markets with a generally weaker trend spreading over the border on export cattle despite numbers remaining quite low, particularly where grown steers are concerned.

There are solid returns being achieved for feeder steers and there is some thought that many producers may opt to finish their steers to the desired feedlot weight and buy in restockers at lower prices rather than grow their steers out to export weights. It will be very interesting to see how many export cattle are around when they are usually turned off around September and October.

With so many cows having already been culled after the prolonged dry they may become scarce when remaining autumn calving cows are pregnancy tested in spring. This brings into play an interesting scenario; that despite a strong dollar, there may not be enough export cattle around for processors to source and put pressure on some works to remain open.

Mixed prices

There was strong feeder, restocker and backgrounding competition on the young cattle, while trade inquiry was left to a small number of well bred vealers. The steers sourced by the trade were mainly between 190¢ and 229¢/kg, the latter for some excellent quality Murray Greys from Tintinara. Other vealer steer purchases were from 175¢ to 210¢/kg with Angus steers high on the priority list at rates 1¢ to 6¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers fluctuated a few cents either side of unchanged, with probably a few more finishing with the trade. Most heifers attracted rates mainly between 160¢ and 194¢, with isolated sales peaking at 214¢/kg. Feeders and restockers provided the trade with a few headaches as they sourced a large percentage of yearling steers and heifers at fluctuating prices, as the trade generally lowered theirs.

Steers generally sold between 160¢ and 201¢/kg, with the heifers mainly from 130¢ to 190¢/kg in a wide spread of prices. The few grown steers penned were mainly under 600kgs and attracted wholesale competition between 174¢ and 188¢, or unchanged to 2¢/kg dearer. Cow prices were mostly 2¢ to 13¢/kg easier due to the weaker rates paid at Mt. Gambier, although some categories were 3¢ to 4¢/kg dearer.


Supply steady
Overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS hovered around the previous week's level. Most of the southern selling centres reported relatively small reductions in numbers. However the reverse trend was most evident at Longreach where the largest yarding for the year was present, with big consignments from the far north entering the market as well as stock from the surrounding areas. Mareeba reported a lift in quality to be the best for many years, and also there were greater numbers of tablelands cattle penned, because of the heavy frosts burning off pastures.

The recent cooler weather has had an effect on quality, and cows continue to dominate the export sections in the south with the majority in the lower fat scores. Values for export grades at markets early in the week continued to lose a few more cents. However by mid week values for export grades generally managed to hold close to firm against the big reductions of the previous week.

Prices for yearling steers and heifers to slaughter battled at times, however the better end generally sold to a strong inquiry. Average prices for yearling steers to feed slipped by a few cents in places, however the well-bred grades still commanded a fairly high rate. However the heifer portion to feed lost ground in value compared to the strong demand in recent weeks. A bright spot appeared in the market at Warwick for calves and veal to the trade with improvements of 6¢/kg, and this trend continued on a Dalby where southern operators competed strongly to purchase market share.

Calves and vealers dearer

Calves to the trade were dearer at close to 165¢, with sales to 189.2¢/kg. A slip in quality saw average prices for restocker grades cheaper at 173¢, the well bred grades still made to 203.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to feeder operators experienced an improvement of 4¢ to average 184¢/kg. The better end of the vealer heifers to the trade were 2¢ to 4¢ better with most in the mid 170c range with some to 187.2¢/kg. The largest numbers of medium weight yearling steers to feed lost 1¢ to 7¢ with the majority in the early to mid-170¢/kg range, well bred grades to 197.2¢/kg. Heavy slaughter categories eased back by 2¢ to 4¢ to average 177¢ and 184¢ for the certified grainfeds. Yearling heifers to the trade were generally 3¢ to 5¢ cheaper at an average of 172¢, while the feeder portion fell 10¢ to average 163¢/kg.

Heavy 3 score steers to slaughter averaged 162¢, while the better classes sold to 183.2¢ to average close to 177¢, a fall of 3¢/kg. A short supply of good heavy bullocks averaged 174¢ and made to 181.6¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 114¢, and the 3 scores 126¢/kg. A limited number of good heavy cows made to 156.2¢ to average 140¢/kg.

Western Australia

Rain in south
Mustering continues in full swing in the pastoral regions of the state. Generally conditions remain reasonable, even there are parts of the southern Gascoyne and Murchison regions that continue to look for rainfall. The southern Agricultural regions have enjoyed reasonable rainfall over the past week and this has buoyed seasonal fortunes, even in those parts of the northern wheatbelt that have already written the season off. Water levels throughout the Agricultural regions, even in the very safe southwest continue to be a large concern for producers with winter now halfway over and runoff having been minimal up to this point. The increased moisture levels have increased pasture and crop growth but the season still remains approximately six weeks behind what would normally be expected and the crop forecasts have now been lifted. Processing space remains a problem for producers with continue waiting lists a daily reality. The saleyard total fell this week due to a reduction in supplies at both Midland and the Great Southern, while the southwest sale remained very low. The lower numbers were due to a fall in supplies from both pastoral and local regions.

Slaughter grades of all description were sold in more limited numbers with young store classes making up the greatest majority of all three sales. Trade competition was again slightly higher across the classes. Demand for store classes remains very selective from both the feeder and grazier sectors. Live export demand continued to be restricted to light weight bull classes with demand and rates remaining unchnaged.

Store quality remains mixed

Vealer supplies remained very tight and confined to lightweight categories. Demand from the local trade and small retailers continued to be extremely strong with rates unchanged. There was a weaker supply of grain-finished yearlings forwarded for sale and values were again strengthened by an increase in local trade competition. Values however still remain well below forward contractual rates. Grass finished trade weight yearlings were all but non-existent and were purchased predominately for the feeder sector. The quality and weight of store grades irrespective of whether they were sourced from local or pastoral areas, Feeder demand continued to be extremely selective. Grazier demand was also selective and overall rates were quoted on a similar basis as the previous week. Heavy weight steer volumes were extremely tight, as were their female counterparts. Trade competition for both sexes rose marginally, which lifted rates.

Cow supplies were more restricted this week with quality more mixed with fewer heavy weights available. Trade competition remained equal to last week with rates unchanged. Some agents have commented that supplies of quality cows could constrict in the next couple of months with many off loaded earlier in the year due to the tight seasonal conditions.

New South Wales

Quality improves
A return to milder weather saw a general improvement in the quality of young cattle offered. The percentage of crop-finished stock increased at many centres although there was still the usual supply of unfinished vealers and yearlings suitable for feeders and restockers. Overall numbers lifted.

In places, the improved condition of slaughter stock assisted a lift in prices but at most demand was weaker from both processors and on-feeders. The impact of the A$ on export prices is flowing down to the trade and feedlot sectors while restockers in most areas are looking for rain to lift pasture and crop growth into the spring period. After a stronger market the previous week, the Wagga market attracted a larger yarding but quality remained mixed with very few prime vealers offered and a variable selection of yearlings. Most young cattle prices eased 2¢ to 3¢/kg. More unfinished stock were presented at Forbes and with not all buyers active, prices fell 5¢ to 10¢/kg. At northern centres, better supplies of crop finished young cattle maintained quality and market trends were more variable. At Gunnedah, a better quality run of yearling heifers were 10¢ to 12¢/kg dearer.

The quality of export cattle remains generally poor with only some centres reporting limited numbers of prime steers and bullocks and most attracting mainly light and medium weight cows with many of these showing the effects of the recent cold weather. All export categories met an easier market as the strong dollar and variable quality take their toll.

Prices slip

Young cattle prices varied between categories but the trend was mainly cheaper by around 5¢/kg across all reported sales. Most vealers, although reduced in number, were more affected with medium weight restocker lines falling 6¢ to average 187¢ after reaching 228¢/kg. Most of the vealer heifers went to the trade 7¢ cheaper after reaching 194¢ and averaging 168¢/kg. Light yearling steers defied the trend by lifting 2¢/kg to average 195¢/kg while the medium weights to feeders were close to firm to average 188¢/kg. Light yearling heifers fluctuated with those to feeders falling 5¢ and those to restockers lifting by the same amount. More significantly, medium weight heifers to the trade fell 15¢/kg to average 171¢/kg. Heavy weights however, managed to rise 2¢ to average 180¢/kg.

Grown cattle all lost ground with feeder steers most affected. Medium weights averaged 14¢ to 17¢/kg cheaper, averaging around 172¢/kg. Heavy steers fared a little better, falling 4¢/kg, ranging from 150¢ to 193¢/kg. Grown heifers were slightly cheaper, averaging 158¢/kg. While some centres recorded larger falls, cow prices averaged 2¢ to 3¢ cheaper with light D2s making 88¢ to 130¢/kg. Heavier D3 and D4s reached 146¢ to average 130¢/kg while a few C muscle cows reached 150¢/kg.


Downturn in quality
Cattle supplies at MLA’s NLRS reported markets decreased 10% on last week and 7% on the same time last year. Pakenham witnessed the greatest decrease of 30%, due to maintenance closure of the nearest export processor. On the other hand Colac, Shepparton and Wodonga realised increases of 18%, 20% and 6%, respectively.

Export weights dominated, however yearling steers and cows made up the majority of the cattle offered, comprising 50% of the state yarding. Grown steers however continued to be limited across all centres and represented just on 6%.

There has been a downturn in the quality of cattle across all markets as the cold seasonal conditions tighten its grip once again. The majority of supply was made up of mixed or plain quality. Although, some better supplementary fed B muscled vealers and yearling were scattered throughout the yardings and these were in demand from processors. The shift in quality and potentially decreasing yields is having a negative impact on prices.

Price trends across the board have been cheaper although a limited number of categories were able to hold firm. Those lines that suffered falls, generally lost between 3¢ and 10¢/kg. However, there were some isolated dearer sales on the heavy vealers while yearling steers were firm to 6¢/kg dearer. Price has also been affected as fewer buyers were in attendance, due to their plants being closed for annual maintenance. Across in SA, however, the majority of buyers were from Victoria. The high A$ also continues to impact on export categories.

Prices fall

Most of the vealer steers offered were medium and heavy weights, which topped at 238.6¢/kg. The C muscled heavy weights selling mostly from 206¢ to 210¢ to be 4¢ to 11¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers were generally cheaper ranging from 130¢ to 228¢, to average 180.5¢/kg. Heavyweight C3’s were down 5¢ to average 195.4¢/kg. Heavyweight B2 and B3s, although in limited numbers, reached 228¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers sold mainly to restockers with price ranging from $393 to $566/head. Trade weights to slaughter were up 4¢ to average 203¢/kg. A large run of medium weights purchased by feeders averaged almost 185¢/kg. Good heavy C3s to slaughter remained fully firm at 188.6¢/kg. Yearling heifers were generally cheaper with the medium weights down 3¢ to average 189.3¢/kg.

Heavyweight steers and bullocks were overall cheaper and leaner 3 scores dominating. The C3’s were down 4¢ for the heavyweights and 6¢ for the bullocks, averaging 179¢ to 174.7¢/kg respectively. The C4’s were 7c cheaper at 174.4¢/kg. Overall cows followed the cheaper trend of the market. The majority consisted of dairy cows with the lightweights averaging 98.2¢ as the heavy D2s sold close to 128¢/kg. Medium weight beef D3s reached 148¢ to sell around 133¢/kg. The top of the heavy cows reached 161.6¢/kg.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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