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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

30 January 2009
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Queensland

Supply drops dramatically

A combination cheaper prices and useful falls of rain across some of the supply areas reduced numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 56%. Longreach is to decide this week as to when they return to the selling program.

A change in the sale day, due to the public holiday resulted in only a small number of stock being penned in Toowoomba. Only small numbers came forward at Mareeba due to the wet weather and light rain fell during the sale at Morton. Following some good falls of rain around Murgon numbers were much smaller with a few large consignments unable to be trucked out of properties due to the wet weather, and numbers were reduced to half of the previous week's level at Dalby.

Values at markets early in the week generally continued to struggle, however by midweek a firming trend developed for some categories compared to the much cheaper prices received the previous week.

The smaller supply of yearling heifers allowed average prices to improve, while other classes met a fair inquiry, with support from both the trade as well as the feedlot sector.

Export lines of steers and bullocks went against this trend to continue a downward slide with heavy steers 9¢ cheaper while the bullock portion fell 8¢/kg. However cows were in demand with the majority in the 3 and 4 score ranges. A fair sample of medium and heavy weights experienced no change to maintain the previous week’s averages.

Mixed values

A small number of calves sold to restockers at 189¢ with sales to 217.2¢, while vealer steers to restockers averaged 196¢ with the occasional sale to 214.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers remained firm at close to 179¢ with sales to 200¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed across all markets lost ground to average 172¢, while the medium weight C3s were only 2¢ cheaper at 169¢/kg. Restocker grades mostly sold around 174¢, while a small number to the trade sold from 160¢ to 195.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed lost 6¢ to average 156¢, and slaughter descriptions improved 4¢ with most sales around 161¢/kg. Medium weights mostly sold around 155¢ with the heavy portion 4¢ dearer at 158¢ with sales to 165¢/kg.

Heavy steers destined for export slaughter averaged 9¢ less at 161¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks made from 151.2¢ to 165.2¢ with the majority 8¢ cheaper at 160¢, while a small sample of manufacturing ox made into the 150¢/kg range. Medium weight 3 score cows experienced no change at 128¢, and the better grades averaged 133¢/kg. Heavy cows made from 131¢ to 141¢ with the good sample fully firm at close to 136¢/kg. Heavy bulls achieved similar demand to the cows and improved in value to average 135¢ with sales to 149.2¢/kg.

New South Wales

Numbers drop

It is not surprising that with a short week, resulting from the Australia Day public holiday, that total throughput dropped a substantial 46% at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. The centres of Wagga, Forbes and Tamworth were not held, as they fell on the public holiday as all other markets realised smaller yardings of anywhere from 100 to 500head.

Along with a sale day missing, the smaller numbers may have also been influenced by the cheaper trend of recent weeks. A decision to hold onto stock by producers would not be an easy one at present as temperatures have lifted which will impact on water supplies as well as pasture quality and quantity.

Cattle quality remains mixed with all categories from plain lightweights suitable to feeders or restockers through to properly finished pens being yarded. The recent onset of hot weather is doing little to improve condition. A couple of centres were able to yard some better bred lines and these were generally the younger cattle.

A varied price trend was evident across both young and grown cattle. Most of the regular buyers were present however at some northern markets the Queensland processors were not as active as they been in recent times. Young cattle ranged from firm to 10¢/kg either side of last weeks cheaper prices. Grown cattle showed large variations with grown steers anywhere from 6¢ dearer through to 12¢/kg cheaper. Cows outside of buyers requirements were dealt some heavy losses as medium and heavy indicator grades were close to firm.

Ongoing mixed price trends

Light calves topped at 210.2¢ as most to slaughter ranged from 172¢ to 190¢/kg. Restockers made very few purchases of calves however they were active on the vealer steers paying to 219¢ for lightweights and from 181¢ to 196.5¢/kg for all weights. Medium weights to slaughter lost 5¢ to average 182¢, while some heavy weights sold around 186¢ to be 6¢/kg dearer. Large numbers of light vealer heifers to processors made from 152¢ to 187¢after selling to 205¢/kg. Light yearling steers to feeder and restockers were around 6¢ cheaper making 165¢ to 171¢/kg. Medium weight C3s improved 4¢ for limited numbers to average 177¢/kg. A limited number of B muscle heavy weights topped at 211.2¢/kg. The better C muscled light yearling heifers to all buyers were 5¢ to 9¢ cheaper as plainer D muscle lines suffered falls around 14¢/kg. Medium and heavy weights to slaughter lifted 4¢ to average 161¢ and 154¢/kg respectively.

Most of the grown steers offered were medium weights with feeders taking a large proportion at 162¢ or around 4¢/kg cheaper. Most of the heavy steers are 3 scores showing signs of a tightening season selling at 152¢ while the better 4 scores averaged 159¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows eased 2¢ to 121¢/kg.

South Australia

Smaller Yardings

Are numbers on the wane, or was it just the lower prices being paid over the past three weeks that has led to numbers falling at south eastern saleyards late last week; and so far this week?

Naracoorte’s export category sale last Friday witnessed 454 cows and 35 bulls, with some of the latter weighing in excess of 1,200kg. They sold to the usual SA and Victorian processor competition in another fluctuating priced sale due to restockers keeping plain quality cow prices up around the 120¢/kg mark despite other buyers trying to lower their rates below 130¢/kg. Bull prices also retreated below the140¢/kg mark, despite most being magnificent B muscled bulls.

Naracoorte’s young cattle yarding was slightly smaller on a very mixed quality yarding that sold to the regular buying fraternity, although somewhat stifled by one buyer operating for two others. Mt. Gambier had a combined sale of 2,604 head before reverting back to split sales next Monday, before possibly returning to combined sales on Wednesday 18th February. Bulls will be sold at 8.00am, before continuing on with the grown steers, young cattle and cows. This is due to a couple of trucking co-ordinators expressing concerns about the late times that stock can be trucked after weighing. It is hoped that by starting the sale earlier it may speed up departures and get the heavy stock off the cement sooner.

Prices retreat further

It was another week of lower prices to the trade, with feeder and restocker orders able to follow suit, as the hot weather made it a tough sale week for everyone, both man and beast. A large percentage of vealer steers were sourced by feeders and restockers between 145¢ and 180¢, or 3¢ to 20¢/kg cheaper. Trade purchases were from 170¢ to 187¢ for the B muscled, and 150¢ to 182¢ for the C muscled at rates 2¢ to 11¢kg lower. Vealer heifers attracted prices 1¢ to 12¢ less as most sales ranged between 140¢ and 175¢ for the C muscled, while D muscled sales had fallen back below 140¢/kg mid week. Yearling steers sourced by the trade were 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper as they sold between 146¢ and 162¢, with B muscled to 168c/kg. Feeders and restockers were active from 146¢ to 165¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales followed suit, with most selling between 137¢ and 154¢/kg.

Grown steer sales were affected by an absent NSW order that left C3 and C4 sales ranging between 146¢ and 158¢, with carcase weight prices generally below 290¢/kg. Cow prices were 1¢ to 9¢ cheaper as most carcase weight prices ranged between 230¢ and 255¢/kg.

Millicent agents put together a larger yarding on yet another oppressively hot day, as SA swelters this week.

Victoria

Heat wave

The state is suffering from an oppressive heat wave with continuous days of temperatures between 38 and 44 degrees Celsius. The affects of this will be more wide ranging the next week as markets return to normal after the Australia Day public holiday reduced overall supply at MLA’s NLRS reported sales.

Most sales were larger with the excessive heat promoting producers to sell their stock. The country side has dried out significantly, and the condition of some cattle is starting to suffer. Couple this with a short working week, and weakened sales at the retail level and demand was not as strong.

While there was a weaker trend reported at most sales, a lot of prices were close to the previous week. As far as young cattle are concerned, the EYCI at the completion of Thursday’s markets was 313¢ which was a reduction of 2.25¢/kg cwt on the previous week.

There have been some reasonable differences between the saleyards during the week. Shepparton and Wodonga had extra competition for grown steers, which lifted their prices. Some cattle are showing signs that the hot weather is having an effect on their condition, but there was still a lot of good quality cattle penned over all categories.

Generally prices were between 2¢ and 8¢/kg cheaper, although buyers are indicating that dressing percentages are falling. Part of the issue with the weaker demand is that processors are being swamped with cattle, with some accumulating a full week’s kill ahead.

Cheaper trend

The few calves offered generally made from 161¢ to 172¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers offered were in the heavy weight range. The excellent B muscle lines made around 173¢ after selling to 196¢/kg. The C3’s lost 4¢ to sell closer to 166¢/kg. Medium weight C muscle vealer heifers were 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper to sell around 156¢/kg. The few B muscled pens sold close to firm at 170¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feeders fell 7¢ as the heavy weights eased 4¢ with both selling close to 160¢/kg. Heavy weights to slaughter also fell 4¢ to average 160¢/kg as well. Medium weight C3 yearling heifers slipped 6¢ to sell around 148¢ as plain D muscle lines sold close to 141¢/kg. Good heavy weights ranged from 148¢ to 152¢/kg.

The plain grown steers realised some of the large price falls. Medium weight C3s eased just 2¢ to 155¢ with the heavy C3s selling at similar levels. The limited heavy C4s lifted 2¢ to average 159.5¢kg.

Most cows lost 2c to 4¢/kg, however a lack of buyer support at Colac saw further dramatic falls by as much as 20¢/kg. Better quality beef cows sold from 115¢ to 138¢ with a large number of dairy cows making 110¢ to 127¢/kg.

West Australia

Lower numbers sold

The first cyclone of the season crossed the coast in the north of the state during the week bringing good rainfall to much of the Pilbarra, Murchison and Goldfields. As it made its way south there were also good falls recorded in the northern and eastern wheatbelt and as far south as the southeast coast. The far north of WA continues to have a reasonable wet season, while the majority of the southwest remained fine and dry. Early calving continues with supplementary feeding now a necessity in many areas. Physical market recorded lower numbers with the long weekend seeing the cancellation of the southwest’s weekly sale. In addition to the normal trade markets there were also other regional vealer markets. The supplies of heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifers dwindled this week, as did the numbers of cows with the announcement of a nine day shut down by the state’s largest export processor, having a negative impact on the numbers of export grade cattle.

Although lower than the previous week, vealer supplies remained healthy and these were the largest classes to be sold at either Great Southern or Midland. Trade demand across the classes was generally lower and more conservative in the majority of slaughter classes. Feeder demand for cattle continues to be firm in medium and heavy weight classes, while demand for lightweight steers and heifers from south-western restockers remained healthy. Live export demand for steers and lightweight bull continues firmly with the export season in the south now in full swing.

Marginal rate drops

Vealer quality and weight remained fair with a good weight recorded from Great Southern. Trade demand continues to be very selective and generally confined to heavier weight classes, but overall it remained firm. Feeder demand showed the first real signs of slackening with slight reductions realised in heavier steer and heifer classes in excess of 330kg lwt. Medium weight steer and better quality heifer vealers maintained their levels with lightweight heifers recording the largest rate reductions. There were considerably lower supplies of trade weight yearling steers and heifers. Steer sales were maintained while heifers sold at cheaper rates of up to 10c/kg lwt.

Heavy weight export steer and bullock values were marginally lower on the very limited numbers sold. Heavy weight heifer rates constricted also while the cow market fell by 2 to 3c/kg lwt, which was better than some predictions early in the week, but this was aided by a considerably lower supply than what has been seen in recent weeks. Heavy weight bull rates were maintained under a static trade demand and competition, while an increase in live export activity on lightweight bulls created rates rises of between 10 to 15c/kg lwt.

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