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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

13 February 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

A shorter supply

Supply eased 21% at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS. The cheaper prices paid the previous week resulted in the small reduction in numbers, and floods in the north of the state are also having an effect on supply. The planned recommencement of selling at Longreach has moved further out due to the floods, and heavy rain is still hampering supply at Mareeba, with only selling centres in the very south of the state operating normally.

Markets early in the week contained some large runs of certified grainfed heavy steers and bullocks plus good sample of heavy 4 score cows and fair mix of young cattle. Values for steers and bullocks slipped a further 1¢ to 5¢/kg, nevertheless cows went against this trend to remain very solid, while most descriptions of young cattle enjoyed a slightly dearer market.

A similar trend was evident at Warwick where stronger feeder support allowed values for some young classes of young cattle to turnaround and experience gains of 2¢ to 4¢/kg, and export grades received very little change in value from the previous weeks rates.

Despite the gloomy outlook displayed by some sections of the industry export grades at Dalby turned around from the low prices of the previous sale. Steers and bullocks out of the paddock experienced improvements of 5¢ to 6¢/kg, however certified grainfeds did not enjoy the same demand. A lift in the overall standard plus stronger competition allowed cows to regain most of the previous week’s losses with improvements of 7¢ to 11¢/kg.

A dearer trend

Calves to restockers averaged 181¢ and sold to 191.2¢, and trade descriptions topped at 199.6¢ with most around 176¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers sold to restockers at 183¢ with sales to 203¢/kg. Vealer heifers mostly sold to the trade fully firm and close to 167¢ with a handful of better grades reaching 188.2¢/kg. Restocker descriptions in the lightweight range generally sold around 170¢ with sales to 187.2¢/kg.Medium and heavyweight yearling steers to feed were 2¢ to 3¢/kg dearer with the largest numbers close to 164¢/kg. The trend of stronger feeder demand flowed onto the yearling heifers with medium weights 2¢ dearer at 151¢ with sales to 164.2¢/kg. An excellent line-up of supplementary fed heavy yearling heifers met strong competition from the trade to average 165¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 2¢ better at 160¢ with sales to 167.2¢/kg. Heavy steers gained 5¢ with most just under 160¢, while certified grainfeds lost 3¢ to average a similar amount. Good heavy bullocks improved 2¢ to average 157¢ with sales to 168.2¢, and certified grainfeds lost 4¢ to average 162¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows remained firm at 115¢ and 3 scores lifted 4¢ to average 127¢/kg. A large sample of good heavy cows averaged 5¢ better at 132¢ with a few pens reaching 145¢/kg.

New South Wales

Numbers and quality dip

The majority of markets offered smaller yardings as state throughput declined 22%. Only Armidale and Casino were able to offer increased numbers. Yardings were also 18% below the corresponding time last year. The cheaper prices of recent weeks was a major factor behind producers opting not to sell while numbers last week were increased following the Australia Day public holiday. Both Gunnedah and Wagga recorded their smallest yardings since the first week in November 2008.

The hot weather has taken its toll on quality with a greater percentage of plain cattle available. Well finished pens were in the minority and this is highlighted by just 20% of the grown steers being in 4 score condition. Casino was able to offer good runs of grown steers, bullocks, grown heifers and cows, while Goulburn had an improved selection of yearling steers and heifers.

The full field of buyers were present however at Gunnedah a couple of orders were not in attendance. Mixed price trends were evident across the board as some categories were able to improve slightly and this trend was mirrored throughout other eastern states.

Of the young cattle it was generally the lightweights that were dealt the largest price falls as with the other weight ranges around 5¢/kg either side of firm. Young cattle accounted for 58% of the states total yarding. Plain light grown steers were up to 15¢/kg dearer to feeders while medium weights eased 2¢/kg. Heavy steers and bullocks represented just 39% of the grown steers offered. Cows remain in demand for manufacturing product as prices were firm to slightly dearer.

Mixed trends

Around 67% of the vealer steers offered were purchased by restockers with most around 178¢ as lightweights topped at 191.2¢/kg. Only a handful were secured by feeders as medium weights to slaughter averaged 173¢/kg to be fully firm. Almost 75% of the vealer heifers went to processors to a top of 208¢ however most sales ranged from 167¢ and 171¢/kg. Almost 60% of the young cattle offered were yearlings with steers just out numbering the heifer portion. Light yearling steers returning to the paddock fell 8¢ and feeder lines eased 3¢ to both average 157¢/kg. The few C3s to slaughter sold to 198¢ but lost 5¢ to average 162¢ as those to feeders were close to firm at 152.5¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter sold closer to 156¢/kg. The large number of medium weight yearling heifers to the trade lifted 3¢ to 151¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers eased 1¢ as heavy steers lifted 1¢ to average 145¢ and 155¢/kg respectively. Good heavy bullocks reached 164.6¢ to lift slightly to sell mostly around 156¢/kg. Light D2 cows improved 1¢ to 104¢ as medium weight D3s remained firm at 119¢/kg. Medium weight D4s sold around 127¢ as some high yielding C muscle lines topped at 138.2¢/kg. Heavy D4s averaged 126.5¢/kg.

South Australia

Larger numbers yarded

The lower prices paid the previous week led to a smaller yarding at Mt. Gambier’s last split export sale before combining again next Wednesday. Only 266 grown steers were offered, however with a NSW order operating again on prime steers weighing under 600kg this led to a dearer trend, while those over that weight were 1¢ to 3¢/kg cheaper. A large run of 610 cows also sold at mainly weaker levels.

The SA LE’s slightly smaller yarding was of poor quality resulting in erratic competition from the usual trade and processors. Feeder buyers were active and sourced most of the vealer steers, and a good percentage of the yearling steers. Most vealer and yearling heifers finished with the trade at generally lower rates. Small runs of cows could not sustain recent prices.

Naracoorte’s first combined sale for a couple of months attracted 1,343 head and contained large runs of 665 mainly good quality cows that have found their way into the saleyards after the large weaner sales held over the past two months. It was a very mixed quality yarding that contained only a sprinkling of good quality young cattle, and some prime grown steers that sold to steady trade and processor competition, with feeder and restocker prices varying.

Mt. Gambier’s young cattle sale was slightly larger and sold to steady trade and processor competition at mainly unchanged rates, with feeder orders active at lower prices. Millicent’s larger yarding featured some excellent quality vealers.

Fluctuating price trends

There were fluctuating priced sales due to indifferent trade and processor competition, with feeder and restocker orders generally lowering their rates. Most vealer steers to the trade sold from 150¢ to 180¢, with an isolated sale at 189¢/kg. These were 3¢ to 4¢ cheaper even though some C2 sales were dearer due to steady feeder activity. However, feeder and restocker purchases ranged mainly between 154¢ and 174¢ to be mostly 3¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifer sales varied between 1¢ and 6¢ dearer, and 1¢ to 7¢ cheaper as most attracted rates from 140¢ to 165¢, with isolated singles to 190¢/kg. Yearling steers were basically 1¢ to 8¢ lower as a mixture of trade, processors, feeder and restocker inquiry left most selling between 138¢ and 168¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales fluctuated between 1¢ and 14¢ cheaper, and unchanged to 8¢/kg dearer, as most finished with the trade from 125¢ to 158¢/kg.

Grown steer sales were basically unchanged under 600kg; and 2¢ cheaper on heavy C4 sales as carcase weight prices averaged close to 275¢/kg statewide. Cows varied a few cents either side of unchanged as all sales fell back below 128¢/kg. Carcase weight prices spread mainly between 225¢ and 250¢/kg.

Victoria

Numbers back

As fires are ravaging the state there was livestock and farm losses. There was also rises and falls in the supply of cattle, which was attributed both to the fires through road closures. A lift in numbers at Pakenham and Leongatha with at times total farm production, and some other lots sent to sale due to losses of farms. Some producers were lucky only losing some paddocks, while others lost the whole farm. The lift in supply at these two markets was equalled by other sales being smaller with overall result of 8% fewer cattle being offered.

The extremes of the heat followed by much cooler weather and even up to 50mm of rain in East Gippsland led to some very plain condition cattle being forced onto the market.

Young cattle accounted for almost 40% of the total yarding with 72% being yearlings. This affected price with some grades cheaper, but overall the larger run of C muscle vealers, yearlings and grown cattle sold at firm to slightly dearer trends. This is highlighted by the EYCI with only minimal movements either way and at the completion of Thursdays sales was 0.25¢ higher that a week ago to be 299.50¢/kg.

Cows dominated yardings and represented 33% of the states yarding. Changing demand for cows, and their varying quality saw some early sales dearer with later sales realising weaker trends. Coupled with the plainer quality, there was a fall of 6¢/kg in the carcass weight price of the cows sold. Bull prices varied between firm and dearer with less numbers triggering stronger demand.

Mixed prices

There was continued strong interaction between trade buyers, lot feeders and restockers over a broad range of steers and heifers. At times this helped to lift the prices for C muscle vealers and yearlings, and some D muscle heifers. A producer purchased a number of heifers to return to the paddock for future slaughter. A producer affected by the fires put his whole herd of B and C muscle vealers into Pakenham totalling some 160 head. Assistance from some buyers lifted the sale as much as 6¢, which saw good quality B and C muscle vealers make between 160¢ and 195¢/kg. Other sales were from 150¢ to 185¢/kg across a large run of cattle.

There was not a large supply of good quality prime C3 and C4 grown steers and bullocks penned, which saw steady demand return prices between 143¢ and 160¢/kg. Because of the plainer quality yardings a number of D muscle cattle made from 115¢ to 148¢/kg. Cow prices varied a with better quality cows making from 112¢ to 137¢/kg, while plain condition cows made between 75¢ and 122¢/kg. Most medium and heavy dairy cows ranged from 100¢ to 112¢/g. The carcass weight price average for all cows was 246¢/kg.

West Australia

Vealer numbers maintained

Conditions in the far north remain reasonable with the tropical wet brining further rainfall to the Kimberley, while the remainder of the state remained fine, hot and dry. Paddock feed is dwindling rapidly with many producers now supplementary hand feeding stock, while early calving is now in full swing.

The current economic woes remain at the fore front of everyone’s thoughts in the cattle industry with confidence levels very low as export processors continue to comment that marketing remains difficult. The local market on the other hand remains reasonably stable with little or no reduction to demand.

Cattle numbers remained in line with the previous week, despite Midland having a lower yarding which was off set by increased numbers at Mt Barker’s two sales. Subsequently the supplies of new season vealers remained very solid with a good selection available throughout the weight classes with the late finish to the green season of last year producing larger percentages of heavy weights. Trade weight yearling steer and heifer supplies remained reasonable, while heavy weight classes continued to account for relatively limited percentage of any of the reported sales.

Cow numbers wee also maintained despite the lower market quotes of the previous week. Demand throughout the majority of classes remained in line with last week’s quotes, despite further weakening in the cow market. Feeder demand was also relatively unchanged, despite the solid numbers available with some buyers predicting numbers will tighten in the short term, while live export demand continued at a reasonable level.

Cow market falls further

There were continued good supplies of heavy weight vealer steers and heifers. Competition was again recorded on these from both the local trade and feeder sectors, as both steers and heifers recorded slight, but discernable increases in value. Medium and lightweights of the other hand recorded a weakening in both feeder and restocker demand, which resulted in falls of 5¢/kg. Trade weight yearling steers again received solid demand from the local trade and live export sectors with rates fully maintained on last week’s levels. Trade weight heifer demand from the local trade was also unchanged.

Heavy weight export weight steer and bullock rates eased by as much as 5¢/kg under conservative processor inquiry despite the relatively limited supplies available. Heavy weight grown heifer sales were lower by a similar amount, while the cow market saw heavy weight 3 and 4 score grades fall by as much as 10¢/kg due to weaker demand.

Pastoral Bos Indicus rates were maintained however due to a continued stable live export interest heavy weight bull rates were unchanged with lightweights also maintaining their live export interest and rates.

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