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 24 July 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Feeders active

State throughput increased around 20%, but this did not deter young cattle prices. Demand from feedlots of varying sizes have been major contributors to further rises to young cattle prices and in particular the EYCI. At the completion of Thursdays markets the EYCI was 343¢, which was another 3.5¢/kg cwt higher compared to last week

This can be highlighted by Pakenham were feeders purchased all range of steers and heifers weighing from 250 to 530kg including some that were suitable to slaughter almost straight away. There were several pens of heavy steers purchased for around 100 to 120 days on feed, and lot of others purchased to supply supermarkets and local trade orders. All other markets reported by MLA’s NLRS also realised good sales to feeders. The interaction between feeders and the trade kept prices firm to dearer.

The very strong competition witnessed throughout the state last week, particularly in Gippsland, was not sustainable for grown cattle with overseas orders still subdued due to the global economic downturn. However, prices were only slightly cheaper with grown steers, bullocks and cows ranging from firm to 5¢/kg cheaper. The top end prices are being assisted by an overall lack of supply with weekly slaughter figures still a lot lower than normal.

As saleyard prices are generally above over the hook prices, there are more coming to physical sales rather than direct to the abattoirs. This is causing stronger competition between buyers to secure a reasonable number of cattle to meet their weekly kill requirements.

Cows sell well

A large range of weights and quality of C muscle vealers and yearlings made from 165¢ to 215¢/kg, which has assisted the EYCI to climb. Depending on the saleyard, feedlots are purchasing a large percentage of the yarding with 45% brought by feedlots and restockers at Pakenham. While they have paid some very good prices for a lot of cattle, the poorer condition cattle were purchased from 140¢ to 170¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers were mainly C3s, reflecting the time of the year. These sold to 198.6¢ to average 186¢ as the few C4s averaged 191.5¢/kg. The C3 and C4 bullocks were firm to 10¢ dearer after selling to 197¢/kg.

Due to the time of year, and the fickle weather conditions, there is a large range of poor quality cows coming into the markets. Cows have accounted for just over 30% of the total state throughput. All exporters have been keen to secure a supply of cows best suiting the 90CL US grinding beef market. This has kept prices high for a lot of poor quality and low yielding 1 score cows. Carcass weight prices across the state was 283¢/kg. Better quality cows made from 135¢ to 156¢ with a large run making from 100¢ to 137¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Larger numbers

There was a larger yarding at the SA LE, but it was still a rather small total offering. Overall quality did improve with more supplementary fed yearlings that sold to solid SA and Victorian wholesale competition. However, feeder orders were more selective and only sourced well bred C2 yearling steers and heifers, with the steers mainly cheaper, and the heifers generally dearer. Limited numbers of vealers sold to strong local butcher and wholesale activity at rates up to 230¢ for steers, and 210¢/kg for heifers. A handful of C3 medium weight grown steers only averaged 167¢/kg at cheaper rates; pity they couldn’t find their way down to the South East where most sales have been above 185¢/kg. The small yarding of cows failed to attract that much interest and are also well down on South East prices due to strong Victorian processor competition.

Naracoorte’s similar sized yarding sold to very strong SA and Victorian processor competition due to quality improving with more supplementary feds being offered. Strong feeder and restocker activity set a solid floor on vealer and yearling prices. Cow prices were generally dearer, with a small numbered pen of Limousin’s reaching 160¢/kg.

Mt. Gambier had a much increased yarding that featured very mixed quality runs of young cattle that looked more like a store sale at times. However, overall grown steer quality was quite good and sold to strong wholesale and processor competition, as did a large yarding of cows that featured more dairy cows than normal.

A dearer trend

Vealer steers to the trade and local butchers sold between 180¢ and 230¢, or around 5¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders secured the majority from 162¢ to 192¢, also at dearer levels. Vealer heifers were keenly sourced, with the trade paying mainly from 180¢ to 210¢ at rates up to 12¢/kg more. Feeder and restocker orders sourced a wide range of weights and quality between 120¢ and 186¢/kg, or 2¢ to 15¢/kg dearer. Wholesale competition for C3 yearling steers was strong as most sales ranged between 178¢ and 200¢, or 1¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers tended to source C2 steers from 172¢ to 197¢ at rates unchanged to 7¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer sales were also buoyant as C3 sales varied from 175¢ to 199c or 3¢ to 5¢ more, with D3 sales 140¢ to 172¢ at slightly lower rates.

Grown steer prices were 2¢ to 7¢ dearer, with most C3 and C4 sales at Mt. Gambier ranging from 180¢ to 200¢, and mainly in a 335¢ to 350¢/kg cwt price range. Most 3 to 5 score beef cows sold from 136¢ to 156¢, with D2 to D4 Friesians making 115¢ to 140¢/kg. Cow carcase weight prices were from 265¢ to 305¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Supply falls to the wayside

Throughput across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards eased 3% on the previous week with Great Southern Saleyard supplying slightly fewer head. Steady rainfall and good feed supplies has allowed producers to hold onto available stock. The late break in the season also encouraged numbers earlier on in the year with producers now keen to hold on to available numbers. Midland yarded similar numbers despite a large drop in the throughput of vealers offered in the calf appraisal sale due to bad weather.

Counteracting the reduced state offering was the 16% rise in yearling steers to market. Despite less being certified grainfed or destined to live export, restockers increased activity considerably. Yearling heifers offset the influx of yearling steers with a 37% plummet in throughput with all buying sectors feeling the pinch of reduced numbers.

Grown steer supply continued to be very tight with little change in throughput, while the grown heifer portion doubled. The significant lift in numbers was heavily due to an influx of pastoral heifers. The cows followed a similar pattern to heifers as pastoral cows flooded the Midland sale. Despite this, a reduction in cows suitable for slaughter and feed offset the incursion of pastoral cattle as state cow supply held firm.

Quality continued to be mixed with pastoral cattle making up the largest proportion. A lift in locally bred trade cattle at Midland, however improved the overall standard of the offering. Restockers and feeders provided strong competition on suitable lines while trade representatives lifted activity on well finished quality lines.

Mixed price trends

There were only a few vealers yarded with this trend expected to continue until later in the year when the vealer season commences. The top of the vealers was a heavy heifer that sold for 200¢/kg. Just 11% of the yearlings were purchased for slaughter with restockers securing the largest percentage. Plain light yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 153¢ with sales to 183¢ as better lines averaged 180¢/kg. The small run of certified grainfeds averaged 172¢/kg. It was a similar situation with the yearling heifers with few going to slaughter. Lightweights to restockers sold around 136¢ as grass fed medium weights averaged 143¢/kg. Heavy certified grainfeds sold in the mid 160¢/kg range.

Grown steer supply was limited as better quality heavyweights reached 154¢/kg. Grown heifers sold to 155¢ as pastoral lines made closer to 111¢/kg. Cows accounted for most of the grown cattle and were the single largest category penned. Most of the light pastoral lines ranged from 63¢ to 87¢/kg while the medium and heavyweights mostly made from 107¢ to 125¢/kg. Good medium weights sold to a dearer market with the D2s averaging 111¢ and the D3s 126¢/kg and heavy cows sold to 137¢/kg. Light bulls to live exporters averaged 145¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Rising supply

Supply across MLA’s NRLS reported saleyards was up 12% with the majority of markets yarding greater numbers. With the winter sell off period continuing at various markets and numbers returning to normal levels after last weeks rainfall restricted yardings. The improvement in prices towards the end of last week and throughout this week also lead to greater numbers being off loaded. As a result, numbers at Dubbo more than doubled, with Armidale also experiencing a significant increase of around 50%. However there were some markets which went against the trend, with numbers at Wagga dropping by 24%, possibly because of the improved season in the south of the state enabling producers to hold onto stock for longer.

Supply of vealer steers increased 10% with processors capturing the majority of the influx. Yearling steer supplies remained firm; however processors and restockers eased purchases while feeders became more active. Cows went against the trend with numbers decreasing 15% and all buying sectors feeling the effects.

The quality of the offering was generally mixed across the state, with a significant proportion in store condition suitable for restocking. However there was a greater share of well finished young cattle either supplementary fed or finished on crops.

At the conclusion of Thursday markets the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) seasonally rose to reach 343¢, the highest point since October 2008 and 3.5¢/kg cwt greater than the same time last year. The overall tight supply which is expected at this time of the year coinciding with recent rain and improving quality has sparked the added competition.

Improved prices maintained

A large percentage of medium weight C2 vealer steers to restockers sold to 223¢, to average 185.5¢/kg. Similar lines to processors averaged 184.5¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers to slaughter improved 4c to average around 187¢/kg. Processors were active on medium weight C2’s, selling around 177¢, while those going to restockers improved 2¢ to average 170¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock improved 2¢ to average 181.1¢/kg. Medium weights going to feeders sold to a top of 202¢ to average around 187¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter held firm and sold around 185¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers going to restockers sold around 167¢ while medium weights purchased by feeders improved 4¢ to range from 148¢ to 184¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter reached 200¢ to average 178¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers purchased by feeders improved 3¢ to average 175¢/kg. Heavyweight C3’s to slaughter also improved 3¢ to make around 175¢, while bullocks sold to a top of 187¢ to average 174¢/kg. Lightweight grown heifers destined to slaughter improved 4¢ and sold close to 168¢/kg. Lightweight D1 cows sold around 107¢, topping at 132¢, while medium weight 3 scores held firm to average 128¢/kg. Heavyweight D3’s improved 4¢ to range from 117¢ to146¢, while D4’s sold to 157¢, to sell around 136¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

A small reduction in supply

The overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS experienced a small reduction of 7%. There were large variations from centre to centre with numbers at Longreach dropping considerably, however supply at Dalby lifted to a much higher level. Quality in the north was mixed with store lines making up the majority of stock penned. The standard in the south was also mixed, however some good samples of heavy steers bullocks and cows came forward with the largest numbers in the 3 and 4 score ranges.

Buyer attendance at most markets was good with representatives covering all categories with a strong attendance of restocker operators. Values for young cattle commence the week on a firm to dearer trend with strong support from feeder operators and restockers which continued as the week progressed. Some fair size consignments of well bred vealer steers came forward and met very spirited competition from restockers and backgrounders as average prices lifted accordingly. The strong demand displayed by a supermarket chain on the medium to heavyweight yearlings to slaughter the previous week continued and generally maintained values at a firm level.

Export grades experienced a mixed trend with prices at markets early in the week improving in places particularly for the quality penned. Nevertheless by midweek the increased supply of export grades at Dalby saw values for heavy steers and bullocks ease 2¢ to 3¢/kg. Cows also suffered a price correction with the better end around 2¢ to 3¢ cheaper, while plain condition grades lost up to 9¢/kg.

A mixed trend in values

Calves to the trade averaged close to 173¢ and restocker categories 179¢ with sales to 213.2¢/kg. The good supply of vealer steers sold to restockers 5¢ dearer at 204.2¢, with one consignment of 130 head making to 216.2c/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade improved 3¢ to average 168¢ with a handful of top end quality lines purchased by local butchers making to 204.6¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed across most weight ranges generally sold around 180¢ with some lightweights reaching 191.2¢/kg. Slaughter classes lifted in value by 5¢ to average 182¢ with sales to 194.2¢/kg. The large supply of yearling heifers across all markets allowed average prices to vary a few cents either side of firm, however the largest sample of heavyweights to the local trade market experienced no change in value at 174¢ with a few sales to 190.2¢/kg.

A relatively small supply of medium weight grown steers to feed remained unchanged in value at 173¢ with sales to 183.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 176¢, while good heavy bullocks across all markets mostly sold around 178¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks sold in a range from 149¢ to 167.2¢ to average 157¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 115¢ and 3 scores lost ground to average 129¢/kg. Heavy 4 scores also slipped in value with most around 140¢/kg.

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