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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

12 June 2009
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Welcome rainfall

Once again, the supply of cattle has been disrupted by a public holiday, and this time it was Australia wide. Coming on top of rain over a large area of the country, most regions and saleyards tendered reduced supplies of both young and grown cattle. No sales were held at Pakenham and Ballarat on Monday, with most other centres smaller. The effect of this was immediate with a lot of cattle selling at dearer rates. While it was fairly general across the state of Victoria, poor quality at some sales did assist in reduced price averages. Some of the bigger price rises were seen at cow sales, but the size of the rise depended on which sale was looked at, as some markets were a lot cheaper than others the week previous.

While young cattle prices have been driven by lack of potential cattle sales because if the holiday, there was also a lack of quality. On the other hand, all indicators for exporters were for a price fall, which was influenced by the rise of the A$. Despite Japan promoting Australian meat, consumer demand has remained subdued. The contract price of 90CL grinding beef has slipped 9c/kg this week, and including the rising A$, prices should be cheaper. However, this has not been the case with prime bullocks averaging 5c higher, and cow prices were quoted an average of 8c/kg dearer. This created a good result for producers, but a tighter margin for export processors. On the local front meat sales have improved with the onset of some colder weather.

Lotfeeder demand strong

Lotfeeders continue to have a significant influence at young cattle sales. Couple this with stronger demand from butchers and wholesalers, and prices were higher. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) figure at the end of the week was 329.50c, another 4.50c/kg cwt higher than the previous week. Most of the good quality C muscle vealers made from 175c to 200c, and similar graded yearlings were between 160c and 190c/kg. A lack of top quality vealers and grain fed yearlings led to the top prices reaching 243c/kg, the highest price being achieved at Wodonga. As a result of lot feeders purchasing a very large range of weights and grades of cattle, the large number of steers and heifers purchased ranged between 130c and 212c/kg.

All eyes were on grown cattle sales as bullock prices reached 185c, and averaged 174c/kg. Wholesalers and exporters set a high trend for good quality cows with 3 and 4 score making from 122c to 155c/kg. Leaner cows also sold well assisting in the carcass weight price average coming in at 265c/kg. The largest increases were seen at Leongatha with rises of up to 50c/kg for light weight cows, as this market had the lowest prices for these the previous week.

SA weekly cattle summary

Similar numbers

The rainfall over the past weekend may have been the trigger needed to see cattle numbers start to retreat. Also with a processor starting their 6 week annual maintenance break commencing with the last kill on Thursday this added some interest as to what could happen over the next month or so.

Only two cattle sales were reported by MLA’s NLRS due to the Queens Birthday holiday on Monday and Millicent in its fortnightly mode meant that buyers struggled to secure numbers for the week’s kill. Feeder and restocker orders may also find it hard to source cattle suitable to their requirements as many producers hold onto stock now that the ground has had a good soaking.

There was a slightly smaller yarding at Naracoorte where once again cows made up nearly 50 per cent of the total yarding with 407 being offered in mainly good quality runs that sold to very strong South East and Victorian processor competition at dearer levels. There was a NSW order also sourcing heavy grown heifers. Feeder and restocker orders were hamstrung by a lack of numbers with only small numbers of vealer steers and heifers being yarded, and most yearling steers and heifers being too heavy for those orders.

Mt. Gambier’s similar sized yarding featured mixed quality runs of young cattle and cows, while grown steer quality was quite good overall. All categories attracted strong competition from the usual South East, Victorian and NSW wholesale and processor orders. Feeders and restocker added to the mix on a wide range of quality.

Most categories dearer

It was generally a dearer trend that was evident as the operating trade and processor buyers struggled to fill loads with large numbers of prime cattle. Vealer steers finished with feeder and restocker orders with a dose of grass fever triggering a dearer trend of 3¢, with most sales between 165¢ and 191¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales were 1¢ to 11¢ dearer with trade purchases from 170¢ and 190c¢, while feeder and restocker prices ranged between 141¢ and 187¢/kg. Yearling steers in small runs sold to the trade from 158¢ to 195¢ with supplementary feds at the higher end, at rates 9¢ to10¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker purchases were mostly between 162¢ and 185¢ or up to 20¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifers varied with C3 sales 10¢ dearer between 173¢ and 189¢, while C4 and D3 sales were 3¢ to 7¢ cheaper selling from 144¢ to 168¢/kg.

Grown steers sold at dearer levels with C3 and C4 sales from 170¢ to 187¢ at rates 3¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. This left most carcase weight prices ranging from 324¢ to 343¢/kg. Cow categories were 2¢ to 11¢ dearer, with most 3 to 5 score beef cows selling from 130¢ to 152¢, or mainly 275¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Saleyard supplies remain reasonable

Weather conditions in the south western land division have remained patchy but again the traditional cattle production areas in the southwest enjoyed the highest rainfalls as several fronts crossed the coast mid-week. Despite these regions recording reasonable moisture levels the late start to the season has meant that pasture levels are still low and supplementary feeding remains a must for producers. The lateness of the break to this year’s season has had a negative impact on the growth and quality of both new season calves and grass finished drafts normally turned off in the spring and this will have a flow on effect during the spring in regard to turn off times, quality and weight. In the north of the state live export activity continues in line with mustering activity, but some pastoralists in the Gascoyne have reported that a drying in seasonal conditions could mean a turnoff of larger numbers into southern markets via Midland’s saleyards if further rainfall in not forth coming in the short term.

Numbers remained equally spread between Midland and the Great Southern yards with the latter still seeing healthy numbers being forwarded into saleyards due to the weakness of current seasonal conditions in eastern parts of its draw area. The numbers of trade weight yearlings, either grass or grain finished remained relatively limited in saleyards, while there was a slight increase in the volumes of heavy weight steers and bullocks at Midland and Mt Barker. Cow volumes although reasonable were lower than the previous week, particularly in heavy weight categories.

Grain finished demand wanes

As has been the case for several months now vealer supplies were all but non-existent and restricted to lightweight calf weights where demand remains static. The demand for grass finished trade weight steers increased slightly this week due to more activity having been recorded from the feeder sector. Grass finished trade weight heifer rates were also slightly dearer but this figure was marginal. Grain finished drafts, respective of weight or sex were lower in value this week under a weaker trade inquiry with very solid supplies available locally, which must continue to compete for shelf space with cheaper imported eastern states product. The store market in both steer and heifer classes enjoyed improved feeder and restocker inquiry with the majority of the latter coming from the west coast. As has been the case in the last month the demand for heavy weight export classes of cattle continued.

There was an improvement in the weight and quality of heavy steers and bullocks this week and this encouraged an improved trade competition. This very strong demand also remained a feature of the cow market as processors competed for supplies, while this buoyant demand remained a feature of heavy weight bull sales also.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Pubic holiday restricts throughput

Due to the closure of Monday markets as a result of the public holiday, throughput across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards declined 20 per cent from the previous week. However, several markets managed to yard significantly more cattle than the previous sales.

Following last week’s rainfall disrupted markets combined with the bitterly cold change this week, numbers doubled at Dubbo and Singleton while Gunnedah throughput lifted 21 per cent. The recent spike in prices is anticipated to have also played a role in drawing more cattle out. Going against the trend however was a 15 per cent drop in Armidale throughput and restricted supplies at both Inverell and Scone. The quality of cattle has generally represented the cold wet conditions across the state with a number of lines suited to restocker and feeder orders. However, well finished quality cattle have also been evident across all markets and consequently well sought after.

With the closure of Monday’s markets, all categories yarded fewer cattle and vealer steers were no exception with a 10 per cent fall in numbers. Restockers however increased activity 10 per cent proportionately following some good falls of rain with 74 per cent returning to the paddock. Despite a 34 per cent drop in yearling steer throughput, restockers captured 35 per cent of them, a 6 per cent increase on last week.

Grown steer throughput followed in similar fashion as numbers declined 7 per cent from last week. Feeders however captured more proportionately securing 42 per cent of yearling steers while processors were less active with 45 per cent going to kill. Of the cow yarding, numbers eased with 92 per cent going to processors, 2 per cent more proportionately than last week.

Prices improve

Medium weight vealer steers to feeders ranged from 150¢ to 190¢ while those to restockers improved 2¢ to average 180¢ with sales to 197¢/kg. Lightweight plain heifers to restockers went against the trend to ease 3¢ with an average of 144¢/kg. Medium weight C2’s to slaughter however improved 4¢ as values range from 140¢ to 180¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers to feed sold to 197¢ to average 180¢ while heavyweight 3 scores to slaughter improved 1¢ to average 176¢/kg. Medium weight feeder heifers mostly sold from 145¢ to 165¢ to average 1¢ dearer at 158¢/kg. Heavyweight C3 heifers ranged from 150¢ to 202¢ to average 4¢/kg dearer.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders averaged 160¢ with sales to 180¢ while heavyweights to slaughter ranged from 143¢ to 178¢/kg. Well finished heavyweight bullocks improved 1¢ to 7¢ to range between 144¢ to 172¢/kg. Medium weight C3 grown heifers held firm at 150¢ while values reached 168¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows improved 1¢ to 113¢ while the 3 scores sold between 103¢ to 133¢/kg. Heavyweight 3 and 4 score cows held firm as sales varied between 115¢ to 142¢ to average close to 128¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

A fall in supply

The absence of Toowoomba from the selling program due to the public holiday combined with some light falls of rain across some of the supply areas resulted in numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS falling by 25 per cent. Overall quality in the south of the state continues to be mixed, while there was a large improvement in the standard of the young cattle offered at Longreach. Young cattle continued to dominate numbers in the selling pens while smaller numbers of grown cattle came forward, with a very small number of slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks penned. Buyer representation at most markets was generally good including additional numbers of restocker operators. Despite the much larger number of calves penned the extra demand from restockers was able to absorb the increased supply plus lift values by a further 12¢/kg. The strong demand for suitable restocker cattle flowed onto the vealer steers and average prices lifted by 7¢/kg. The good supply of vealer heifers purchased by the trade experienced a small improvement with strong support from southern operators. Lightweight lines of yearling steers returning to the paddock improved by 17¢, while medium weights to feed gained 3¢/kg. Butchers and wholesalers were keen to purchase the good supply of yearling heifers and average prices lifted by 3¢ to 7¢/kg.

The small selection of heavy steers received a lift of 5¢, and an equally short supply of bullocks also improved by 5¢/kg. Cows values commence the week on a firm trend however by midweek at Dalby prices tended to turnaround with some categories receiving some small improvement.

Most classes dearer

A large number of calves returned to the paddock 12¢ dearer at 191¢ with sales to 218.2¢, and trade descriptions improved 8¢ to average 172¢/kg. Vealer steers purchase by restockers averaged 7¢ better at 187¢, while a select few purchased by local butchers made to 199.6¢/kg. The largest sample of vealer heifers sold to the trade at 158¢, and butchers had to pay up to 195.2¢/kg for a couple of well presented grades. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 17¢ dearer at 186¢, and feeder lines mostly sold around 181¢/kg. Yearling heifers to the trade were well supplied and medium weights made to a top of 180¢ to average 7¢ better at 161¢, while heavyweights sold around a similar amount and made to 178.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed experienced no change in value at 164¢ with sales to 176.2¢/kg. Only 50 head of score 4 heavy steers were penned and averaged 5¢ dearer at 164¢/kg. A similar number of good heavy bullocks followed the trend and sold to 177.2¢/kg. Medium weight score 3 cows averaged 126¢, and good heavy cows made to very isolated 147.2¢ with most 1¢ dearer at 136¢/kg. Heavy bulls improved 5¢ to average 142¢ with some to 153.2¢/kg.

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