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 June 2008
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Quality slipping

Cattle yardings varied across all of the saleyards reported by MLA’s NLRS with some centres slightly higher and others lower. The overall decline in supply however was less than 1%. An up coming public holiday usually results in increased supply at Monday’s sales the week prior. This did occur at Ballarat, while at Pakenham numbers declined. This is the indicator that state throughput could be generally dwindling, which saw stronger demand across all markets.

One stand out in all markets was the increasing numbers of plainer quality cattle. The only exception was Bairnsdale where good young cattle are still offered in larger numbers. Across all markets, the vast majority of the prime finished cattle have been supplementary fed.

The declining quality had a negative effect on prices with the properly finished cattle selling firm to dearer. This was particularly evident at Bairnsdale where demand was very strong. It was also one of the last markets for the week to fill the gap left by the public holiday. Plainer lines selling to restockers and a lesser extent to feeders suffered the largest price falls.

While demand for quality young cattle was strong, export processors continued to compete steadily at the recent higher rates for grown steers. Assisting the grown steers was the ongoing short supply as they accounted for around 8% of state throughput. Overall most of the cows offered were medium and heavy weights with dairy breeds across all weights well represented. Light cows were cheaper, yet medium and heavy weights sold to a more varied trend.

Mixed prices

East Gippsland is still supplying a fair percentage of the top quality cattle, well muscled young cattle although their season is drawing to a close. There were several drafts of B muscle vealers that made to a state top of 242¢/kg, which was for a pen of heifer. Early in the week similar quality cattle reached 235¢ at Shepparton with heavy B muscled vealer steers across the state averaging 214¢/kg. Prices for C muscle vealers and yearlings were mostly between 165¢ and 211¢/kg. Feedlots and restockers generally purchased cattle at firm to cheaper rates of 145¢ to 184¢/kg, although most of the cheaper trend was due to the reduction in quality.

There was continued strong demand for grown steers. Medium weight C3s averaged 172¢/kg while the heavy C3 and C4s mostly made from 177¢ to 184¢ with isolated sales to a top of 193¢/kg. Most of the bullocks sold around 179¢/kg. Most of the light cows lost 2¢ to 8¢ with the E1 dairy lines averaging 99¢/kg. The good quality C muscled medium and heavy beef cows sold form the mid 140¢ to the mid 160¢/kg range. Medium weight D3s eased 2¢ to 140¢/kg as most of the dairy medium weights selling closer to 118¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows gained 5¢ to average 147¢/kg.

South Australia

Larger numbers offered

Despite the improved prices that have been paid over the past few weeks, the continuing dry conditions and a pessimistic forecast for rain over the next couple of weeks, were probably the main reasons for an increased number of cattle that greeted buyers.

While there were only small runs of vealers, there were around 1,950 yearlings available. Grown steer numbers remain low at around 300 head. There was a very large turnoff of cows as 1,700 were offered, and this was probably due to the better prices being paid recently.

The SA LE kick started the week with an increased yarding, however this could be due to the public holiday next Monday with no sale being held. Naracoorte’s numbers rose also, with Mt. Gambier agents yarding a slightly increased yarding. Millicent’s numbers rose for its fortnightly sale.

Young cattle quality overall was very mixed and included large numbers of pastoral bred cattle in 1 and 2 score condition at the SA LE that were showing the obvious affects of the continuing dry conditions. However there was also a good supply of prime supplementary fed yearlings that attracted solid wholesale activity, albeit at generally lower rates on the excesses of the previous week. Local butcher competition was strong for the small number of prime vealers offered.

Processors paid dearer prices on mixed quality runs of beef and dairy cows, with EU accredited heavyweights at Naracoorte peaking at 156¢ lwt and carcase weight prices close to the 300¢/kg mark.

Export categories dearer

Most vealer steers finished with feeder and restocker orders between 149¢ and 191¢, with trade purchases from 159¢ to 218¢/kg. This left most sales ranging from 1¢ to 3¢ cheaper, to 1¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers followed a similar pattern with purchases evenly shared between the trade and other orders. Most heifers attracted rates between 145¢ and 200¢, with isolated sales to 216¢ to range 1¢ to 10¢/kg either side of unchanged. Yearling steers sourced by the trade sold between 160¢ and 211¢ for 3 scores, while feeders and restockers purchased a wide range of quality between 137¢ and 185¢/kg. This left most sales 1¢ to 7¢/kg either side of firm. Yearling heifer sales were spread over a wide range of orders as most sold from 130¢ to 180¢, with supplementary feds to 194¢ at rates 5¢/kg either side of unchanged.

The lack of grown steers led to strong processor competition, with C3 and C4 sales 2¢ to 14¢ dearer and mainly between 174¢ and 192¢/kg. Small runs of grown heifers and manufacturing steers attracted dearer trends. Solid competition for cows lifted most rates by 1¢ to 6¢, as D3 to C5 sales ranged mostly between 130¢ and 156¢/kg.


Rainfall reduces supply

Beneficial rain in a number of areas resulted in a considerable drop in supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS. However there was a large variation in rainfall totals with some districts only receiving token amounts.

The Toowoomba markets early in the week experienced light rainfall as the small decline in numbers sold to the regular fielder buyers. Nevertheless regardless of the rain values experienced no significant changes, with only restocker and feeder classes achieving only a small improvement. At Warwick on Tuesday there was a big lift in the number of calves penned and processors and restockers were able to absorb the increased supply and even improved values by 10¢/kg. The smaller and lesser quality yarding of steers and bullocks managed to maintain the previous week's rates, and a good supply of cows realised a 2¢ to 7¢/kg rise.

By midweek a large number of cancellations from the districts receiving the heaviest falls of rain became very evident, both into the saleyards and direct to works.

Overall quality of the much smaller yarding at Dalby was not up to the previous week’s standard. This was most noticeable in the grown steer and bullock portion, and despite the drop in quality values improved. Cows also shared in the rising trend to realise gains of 5¢ to 7¢/kg. The general shortage of suitable local trade categories saw a relatively small selection of yearling heifers climb in value by up to 18¢/kg. Yearling steers purchased by the feeder market also received improved competition to be 5¢ to 10¢/kg better. A poorer quality line-up of medium weight grown steers to feed sold to a solid market.

Dearer market

Calves to the trade improved 12¢ to average 171¢, and restocker classes 182¢, with sales to 207¢/kg. Vealer steers in short supply generally sold around 180¢, with the occasional B muscle category reaching 211¢/kg. Vealer heifers were also in small numbers and trade descriptions improved up to 10¢ to average 166¢, with a handful of better grades to 194¢/kg. The largest numbers of yearling steers sold to the feeder market, with the better classes generally 4¢ dearer at 174¢/kg. Slaughter descriptions improved 6¢ to average 173¢, and B muscle lines sold to 203/kg. Most categories of yearling heifers enjoyed a lift in value with slaughter grades 10¢ dearer at 170¢, with a few pens of B muscle descriptions reaching 199.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed met a strong market with any price changes mainly due to the quality penned, with most selling around 160¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 177¢ to average 163¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks generally sold around 165¢ with sales to 173¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows sold to processors at 112¢ and the 3 scores at 122¢/kg. Heavy cows were in the largest numbers and averaged 3¢ better at 137¢, with a few pens reaching 148¢/kg.

New South Wales

Rain halts supply

Falls of 30 to 50mm across the northern districts substantially reduced consignments at centres where the rain fell but the impact diminished at southern and central sales where much more moderate rain was recorded.

Early week sales such as Tamworth and Wagga were less affected – numbers at Wagga lifted by 500 head – but as the week progress and the value of the rain was more appreciated, numbers fell. Gunnedah, which had 30 to 40mm, consignments were back 1,000 head and quality improved as fewer plain conditioned young cattle were penned. Other centres to record significant reductions were Casino, Dubbo, Forbes, Inverell and Scone.

The first sale at the new CTLX yards at Carcoar attracted a healthy 3,073 head – about double what was yarded at the last Bathurst sale the previous week.

The market responded predictably to the rain with the northern sales benefiting most. The cancellation of some Queensland sales provided added buying strength at Inverell where few of the reduced penning was suitable for processors and the best of these were up to 18¢/kg dearer. Gunnedah, Tamworth, Dubbo, Casino, Scone and Singleton reported price rises of 10¢ to 25¢/kg for young cattle with restockers providing most support.

After showing an improvement in quality and supply last week, grown steers were again very scarce. Cows were generally well supplied although a greater proportion of light conditioned cows was again evident with some attracting good restocker demand. Most export categories realised price rises of 3¢ to 10¢/kg.

Young Cattle Dearer

Demand for young cattle lifted sharply in line with the encouraging rainfall with restockers leading the scramble for reduced numbers. Light and medium weight steer vealers to restockers were 13¢ dearer averaging 185¢/kg. Medium weights to kill improved 14¢ to average 187¢/kg. Processors bought the majority of heifer vealers at rates 8¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. These reached 212¢ to average 170¢/kg. Light weight feeder yearling steers were the exception to the trend and – in part due to plainer quality – eased 2¢ to average 160¢/kg. Medium weight feeder steers held firm, ranging from 160¢ to 176¢/kg. The best heavy weights were 3¢ dearer at an average of 175¢/kg. Most of the yearling heifers also went to the trade at prices 2¢ to 7¢/kg dearer with C3s reaching 199¢ to average 167¢/kg.

Grown steers, while limited in supply, met strong demand to be mainly 10¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. Medium C4s made up to 190¢ for the younger lots with all ages averaging 163¢/kg. Restockers were also a force in the cow market, paying to 137¢/kg for suitable lots. This helped push processors to pay 10¢ more for light weight D2s which averaged 109¢/kg. Medium and heavy D3 and D4s were 2¢ to 4¢/kg dearer, ranging from 110¢ to 154¢/kg.

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