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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

08 December 2008
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.

South Australia

Similar numbered yardings

Naracoorte’s export sale last Friday was the first for a fortnight with over another 1,000 cows offered that sold to steady processor competition. Makes you wonder how long these large cow numbers will keep coming, as some areas are quite devoid of stock at present after months of 1,000 plus yardings. Mt. Gambier’s Monday export sale sold to the usual buying contingent in a fluctuating priced sale, with steers and bullocks generally 1¢ to 5¢ dearer, while the cows ranged 2¢ to 6¢/kg either side of unchanged on good quality runs. The SA LE’s sale featured increased numbers of 430 to 1,250 head in very mixed quality runs that sold to a weaker trend from the usual trade, processor and feeder buyers. The yarding also included lines of pastoral bred cows in poor condition that attracted some feeder interest, but generally sold between 58¢ and 114¢, with feeders paying up to 121¢/kg.

Naracoorte’s Tuesday sale featured mainly young cattle that met with mixed fortunes from the operating buyers, with yearling heifers the hardest category to out a price on as similar quality pens attracted prices some 10c to 15c/kg different. This prompted one seasoned buyer to state that the difference was created by staff buyers who generally have a strict price limit, and commission buyers who appear not to have a limit at times. Mt. Gambier yarded1,266 young cattle on Wednesday in a yarding that featured some excellent quality B muscled Limousin sired vealer steers that attracted the strongest competition. Millicent agents yarded 628 mainly young cattle or 200 head more.

Fluctuating trend

B muscled vealer steers sold to strong competition sold between 175¢ and 197¢, with C muscled sales from 160¢ to 185¢ at rates unchanged to 8¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders set a solid floor on prices at dearer levels, with most purchases ranging between 160¢ and 182¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales were between 148¢ and 175¢, with isolated B muscled sales peaking at 189¢/kg for lightweights. This left prices varying between 1¢ and 5¢ dearer, and 2¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steers attracted a mixture of orders, with the trade paying from 148¢ to 175¢, and feeder and restocker orders 145¢ to 178¢/kg. This left prices 1¢ to 12¢ cheaper and 4¢ to 6c/kg dearer, with heavyweights only attracting grown steer prices. Yearling heifer sales ranged from 135¢ to 165¢ for the C muscled, with D muscled spread between 120¢ and 148¢, and very plain quality below 115¢/kg. This left prices ranging from 2¢ to 6¢ dearer, and 1¢ to 3¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steers prices were 1¢ to 5¢ dearer as most C3 and C4 sales ranged between 154¢ and 172¢ or around 295¢/kg cwt. Cows sold between 110¢ and 146¢ or 4¢ to 9¢ cheaper, and mostly between 245¢ and 285¢/kg cwt.

Victoria

Heifers outnumber steers

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) gives a very good rendition of the trends for young cattle over the week. At the close of trade Thursday evening it was only 1.50c higher, at 329.25c/kg cwt. However, this was only achieved through very mixed trends between the different saleyards reported by MLA’s NLRS. While the supply of cattle was higher in total, a large fall in numbers at Pakenham Monday, and Bairnsdale was compensated by larger yardings elsewhere. This in itself created the very mixed results. Most markets were unchanged to cheaper, but due to the short supply at Pakenham, prices here were firm to 12c/kg dearer. Because of the good to very good season in some parts of the state, there have been some very good quality cattle penned throughout all markets, and heifers continue to outnumber steers.

Prices for grown cattle were influenced by similar trends as the young cattle with supply, quality and location causing most of the differences. It is only the less than usual number of bullocks and cows penned that is holding prices where they are, as offal and hide prices continue to fall, and orders from a lot of export customers remain slow as funds in other countries struggle due to the global economic crisis. Prices offered from the US for grinding beef are weaker, but the need for supply remains fairly strong. This has seen cow and bull prices strengthen at some sales, particularly later in the week. Volume at some sales created steady trends, while other markets were dearer.

Cow demand solid

There was a large variation between quality, demand and prices between the different selling centres this week and price trends typified this. While the best quality vealers varied between 170c and 190c at most sales, strong competition at another selling centre saw similar cattle make between 180c and 222c/kg. Good quality C muscle vealers made to 195c at the same sale. With the large number of heifers up for sale, and the generally good quality of these, the larger number of steers made from 145c to 170c, and heifers were between 130c and 165c/kg. Bullock prices varied, as there were a few plainer condition steers offered. Prime C3 and C4 bullocks made between 155c and 171c with little differentiation seen between heavy and medium weights. At times, manufacturing bullocks sold quite well with most making between 148c and 164c/kg.

There was definitely a preference for larger frame, lean dairy cows, as these showed most of, if any price increases. Better quality beef cows made between 129c and 158c/kg. Larger frame dairy cows made from 118c and 148c with from 90c to 128c/kg. There were some excellent quality, very high yielding bulls sold across most selling centres with prices anywhere between 165c and 188c/kg.

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