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 22 August 2008
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales

Numbers steady

Lack of rain in recent weeks and the ever-present threat of a return to drought conditions showed signs of influencing markets as producers once again adjust their marketing strategies. Benefiting also from recent strong prices, most centres recorded larger yardings although some were recovering off a low base after the previous week’s cold conditions. Dubbo again led the yardings with just under 5,000 head – to the largest yarding since October 2004. Numbers doubled at CTLX Carcoar and Gunnedah yarded more than 3.000 head. At Inverell, an additional 500 head were yarded with many coming off winter oat crops now needing further rain. The quality range at Inverell typified that at many centres with a good selection of well conditioned crop and supplementary fed stock but a significant increase in plainer conditioned and poorly bred lots. Yearlings comprised bulk of the young cattle at most centres with vealers now only in small numbers except for Casino which had its usual good selection of light and medium weight veal. The market remained strong but more variable as buyers reacted to the recent price rises and the wide variation in quality. The best of the supplementary fed yearlings and prime vealers were mainly unchanged. Other descriptions varied up to 5¢/kg either side of steady with a tendency to the cheaper side. Some secondary young cattle suffered greater discounts. Cows dominated export sections with grown steers and heifers limited to mainly isolated small lots at most centres. Proving the exception to some extent were CTLX, Armidale and Dubbo where better selections of heavy steers were penned. The export market remained strong although some centres reported a cheaper trend.

Prices ease slightly

Young cattle prices slipped slightly across all centres although deteriorating quality of many yardings was probably a contributing factor. Lightweight restocking vealer steers were 7¢ cheaper, averaging 181¢/kg. The few medium and heavy vealers sold to slaughter held steady, ranging from 180¢ to 223¢/kg. Light vealer heifers to kill lost 6¢ to average 180¢ with the best C3s reaching 232¢/kg. Light and medium yearling steers to feeders and restockers were 2¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper, averaging from 182¢ to 185¢/kg. The heavy C3s were steady, averaging 192¢ after reaching 221¢/kg. Light feeder heifers were 8¢/kg cheaper at 167¢ while the medium and heavy weights selling to processors were 3¢ to 4¢ cheaper at 183¢/kg. Grown steers fared generally held rates with heavy C3s averaging 188¢/kg. The heavy C3 and C4s ranged from 160¢ to 206¢/kg. Grown heifers made further gains and averaged 176¢/kg. The cow market was a little easier for the plainer light weights with D2s losing 3¢ to average 125¢/kg. The heavier 3 and 4 scores held steady, ranging from 130¢ to 175¢/kg. Heavy bulls also maintained their recent strong prices selling unchanged in a range of 122¢ to 184¢/kg for the C muscles.


Numbers increase again

A lift in values and more rain needed across the usual supply areas resulted in numbers increasing a further 17% at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS.

Overall quality of the young cattle was fairly mixed with the majority being purchased by feeder operators or restockers. The relatively short supply of export steers and bullocks was generally of high-quality. Some good numbers off oats crops are becoming more prevalent in the selling pens. However unless useful falls of rain eventuate in the next few weeks, increased numbers of unfinished stock are going to become more noticeable.

Small consignments of supplementary and certified grainfed heavy steers and bullocks are helping to lift overall standard. The quality of the cows continues to be good with the vast majority still in the 3 and 4 score ranges, nevertheless in some centres the supply of 2 scores are increasing. Demand for export lines of steers and bullocks was generally good and values remained very firm with only small improvements in some classes. The continuing fall in the A$ helped cow prices to lift and regain the previous week’s losses. Good heavy cows gained 5¢ while those in the lower fat score ranges improved up to 7¢/kg.

Young cattle experienced a mixed trend, with a drop in the standard of the calves average prices eased by 8¢/kg for restocker lines, while slaughter grades managed to hold firm. Slaughter grades of yearling steers and heifers generally experienced improvements of 5¢ to 7¢/kg. Across all markets for the week feeder descriptions generally held firm, nevertheless at some selling centres a larger and wider selection of both yearling steers and heifers to feed allowed average prices to ease.

Cows dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 185¢/kg and made to 200¢, and restocker classes sold to the occasional 216¢ with most just under 190¢/kg. Vealer steers to feeder operators or restockers lost 8¢ to average 194¢, with a few well bred 215.6¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade managed to hold firm at 179¢, with a few to local butchers reaching 207¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed mostly sold in the early 180¢/kg range, and slaughter grades 188¢ for the medium weights, and 191¢ for the heavy classes. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade improved 4¢ to average 180¢ and heavyweights close to 184¢, a few certified grainfeds to 205¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed remained firm at 181¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 194¢ with a few to 211¢/kg. Bullocks made to 203.2¢ to average 190¢, and a few certified grainfeds to 214¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 127¢ and 3 scores 7¢/kg dearer at close to 139/¢/kg. Good heavy cows averaged 5¢ better at 153¢ the occasional sale to 168¢/kg. Heavy bulls are in demand with a good selection averaging 170¢ with sales recorded to 188¢/kg.


Lower year to date yardings

Throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards are 8% lower this year to date compared to last year. The only saleyard to record an increased was Wodonga, where 7% more cattle have been yarded this year. Leongatha has penned almost 20% less numbers than Korumburra did during the same period last year, whilst Shepparton supply was down by a similar percentage. The large rise in throughput at Wodonga has pushed this centre above Pakenham with the largest numbers this year to date.

When comparing this week to the last, throughput was 23% higher and demand was again strong across most grades, particularly for steers. The highest prices were for the B muscle vealers and yearling. Supplementary fed yearling accounted for the larger part of the better quality. This is finally giving feeders a reasonable margin to continue feeding. Even though retail meat sales are lower than normal, processors and butchers still need a supply of cattle and this saw prices range from unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. Some sales of leaner lines were up to 10¢/kg cheaper with weaker feedlot demand at some sales.

Prices for all grades of grown steers remained at the recent high levels, driven solely by the lack of supply. Cow prices were unstainable after the hug increases witnessed last week. The larger supply was also partly to blame for prices falling mostly between 3¢ to 20¢/kg. Shepparton was dealt the greatest losses after receiving large gains last week. While processors tried to bring bull prices back, it worked at some sales, while other markets were close to firm.

Steers dearer

Strong interaction between a number of butchers, and some processors at Pakenham produced high prices for B muscle of 220c to 245c/kg. A mixture of other good to very good quality B and C muscle vealers and yearlings saw prices of 178c to 226c/kg paid. This included some heavy yearlings weighing up to and over 500kg lwt, which made up to 205c/kg. Both feedlot and trade buyers purchased a large number of C and D muscle cattle at prices ranging between 165c and 195c/kg. Obviously there is strong confidence from feedlots for supply of finished well into the last three months of the year.

Export competition returned to normal with all processors now working, even if it is at low slaughter levels on a daily tally. The supply of bullocks remained very low and most prime and manufacturing bullocks made from 162c to 196c/kg. Along with the much larger supply of cows came a good number of beef cows of reasonable to very good quality. Prices for these were unchanged to 5c lower making between 145c and 176c/kg. Plainer cows were up to 20c cheaper with most sales ranging from 110c to 157c/kg. Bull prices varied greatly with good quality heavy B muscle bulls making anywhere between 165c and 198c/kg.

South Australia

More cattle yarded

The improved prices being paid a physical markets led to numbers increasing at the SA LE. There was also a large increase of numbers at Naracoorte, while Mt. Gambier had 2,326 after the initial draw was for 2,700, and included 650 grown steers. That was the largest yarding of that category for a long time, with quality very good particularly for this time of the year when they would be expected to be sold in late October. However, with most C3 and C4 sales selling in an 188c to 210¢/kg price range, has provided the lure for producers to destock at these improved levels.

The cow sell off continues with another 1,367 being sold, with the South East providing the bulk. This has led Naracoorte to split sales commencing on Friday 28th August at 9.00am with bulls and cows.

The large numbers being sold in the South East is probably due to many bypassing the SA LE where prices for D3 heavy cows fell 16¢/kg. This is due to the very strong Victorian competition that is leaving direct rates being offered at present well behind what most cows are making in the sale yards, with another processor returning to the sales next week after their annual maintenance break.

All yardings featured improved quality runs of supplementary fed and grass finished yearlings that attracted strong wholesale competition at dearer levels. However, cow and bull prices could not maintain last week’s extreme prices.

Strong competition

Strong competition on all categories witnessed vealer steers selling to a mixture of orders with trade purchases 2¢ to 23¢ dearer between 185¢ and 239¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders paid from 171¢ to 203¢ at rates 2¢ to 3¢ cheaper and unchanged to 7¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers tended to finish mainly with the trade between 170¢ and 216¢, with isolated B muscled sales to 234¢/kg. This left prices varying from 4¢ to 8¢ less, and unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. Most C3 yearling steers sold at unchanged rates to the trade between 180¢ and 211¢, while those lacking the desired finish were sourced by a mixture of orders below 180¢, and were 2¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. Yearling heifers followed a similar pattern as most prime heifers attracted prices between 168¢ and 211¢, with D muscled and plain quality heifers failing to sell for much more than 165¢/kg.

Light grown steers were up to 20¢ dearer, while improving by 1¢ to 5¢ on those weighing above 500kg, as C3 and C4 sales ranged between 188¢ and 210¢/kg. Cow prices varied between unchanged to 6¢ dearer, and 1¢ to 6¢/kg less, that left most carcase weights in a 275¢ to 325¢/kg price range.

Western Australia

Supplies at Midland spike

The majority of the southern Agricultural districts have endured yet another week of fine and dry weather with August now the driest ever recorded in WA. Some light falls of rain were recorded in the southwest and southern coastal areas, but this has had little or no effect on pasture or crop growth. Coupled with the dry conditions has been a continuation of cold night with many areas enduring frosting which has also had a negative impact on pasture growth.

The northern pastoral regions continue to muster, but with temperatures now starting to rise into the hotter parts of the year, this activity will now begin to decline. Live export remains the preferred selling method in the north and boat activity remains in line with mustering.

Saleyard numbers were buoyed by larger yardings at both Midland and in the Great Southern with the southwest numbers continuing to be minimal as would normally be expected at this time of year. Midland’s numbers rose sharply to in excess of 3,000 head due to far greater supplies of locally bred cattle. Slaughter grades of virtually all categories, outside of cows and grain finished yearlings were sold in continued limited supply. At Great Southern Saleyards, numbers were again larger after the two previously small yardings. Quality throughout remained very mixed as slaughter quality cattle remained in tight supply and lightweight stores continued to be the largest classes to be sold. Grass finished trade weight yearling steer and heifer quality was reasonable but despite this local trade demand remained conservative.

Larger cow numbers

Vealer numbers remained tight with the majority remaining of lightweight. Local trade and retailer demand has begun to wane as numbers increase and rates showed a slight but discernable drop. Grain finished yearling supplies were reasonable, but were again confined to Midland. Trade demand waned with rates generally lower by 5¢ to 10¢/kg lwt with a probable cause for this being an increase in the supplies of this year’s grass finished yearlings. These have now begun to be sourced out of the traditional cattle fattening districts of the southwest with this trend not unexpected, given the time of year. Despite this the numbers of both steers and heifers have remained relatively tight. Market conditions to grass cattle have remained subdued despite the limited supplies available. The quality of lightweight store cattle continued to be mixed and generally plain, irrespective of whether or not they were sourced from local or pastoral districts and continued to be met by a conservative restocker and feeder demand.

Cow numbers increased substantially and this coupled with a weaker trade demand saw the rates of heavy weight score 3 and 4 cows constrict by as much as10¢/kg.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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