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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

04 September 2009
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Supply lifts

After cheaper prices the previous week, various producers were encouraged to hold onto available numbers in hope of an optimistic price improvement. Recent rain combined with the forecast of more to follow also contributed to the tighter yardings at some centres. However the larger yardings at other markets contributed to the slight lift in overall supply as the season continues to deteriorate around East Gipsland.

Competition returned to more normal levels with an export processor recommencing operations after an annual maintenance break. Even though meat sales are still considered to be on the light side by processors and wholesalers, the lack of supply of reasonable to good quality cattle aided some price increases. The improved seasonal outlook also played a part in sparking added restocker activity on young cattle.

The recent rain and improved outlook in the western districts has produced the best spring outlook in years for various parts of the state. Such factors combined with stronger restocker activity and the return of a major export processor has sparked significant price improvements across the state. As a result the vealer steer indicator improved 6¢ – to 197¢ while yearling steers jumped 5¢ to settle at 188¢/kg by the close of Thursday markets. As a result of the improving young cattle prices, the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) improved 7.5¢ on last week to settle at 323¢/kg cwt. Japan ox also reaped the benefits of the returned processors as values improved 3¢ to finish at 177¢/kg. However cow prices held steady at 134¢ and feeder steers slipped 2¢ – to 173¢/kg.

Young cattle dearer

Some excellent prices were achieved at Pakenham for a select number of good quality, high yielding vealers and yearlings. A pen of grain finished yearlings steers topped this sale at 240¢, vealers made up to 236¢, and numerous sales of good quality C muscle young cattle made from 185¢ to 218¢/kg. A general dearer trend across the state saw a range of C muscled vealers and yearlings make between 165¢ to 210¢ with most sales around 190¢/kg. While demand from feedlots remained subdued, there was a preference for Angus steers and heifers as prices ranged from 165¢ to 195¢/kg. Other feeder cattle made anywhere between 120¢ and 170¢/kg for a very broad range of weight, type and quality.

The supply of export cattle lifted at most markets with the return of one exporter to the market. Even though their competition was limited, bullocks were dearer to make from 165¢ to 187¢ and grown steers made to 193¢/kg. Good quality beef cows made from 130¢ to 148¢ for most sales, but some excellent quality cows made to 171¢/kg at Colac. Lean cows best suiting the 90CL US market made mostly between 100¢ and 143¢, which resulted in an average of 272¢/kg cwt.

SA weekly cattle summary

Numbers up

The SA LE penned similar numbers and contained an improved quality yarding that sold to stronger competition from the usual buyers. With a Victorian order back in action, prices improved on just about all categories. Vealer steers and heifers sold to strong wholesale and local butcher competition, while feeder orders were also active and secured well bred steers, and some lightweight heifers at generally dearer levels. A small number of cows sold at slightly dearer levels, although paling against prices being paid at present in the South East.

Naracoorte’s numbers rose substantially in a similar quality yarding that sold to the usual buyers and included over 500 cows and calves from the Broken Hill region. Around 200 of the lightweight cows in D1 condition attracted local restocker activity. Small numbers of vealers were generally cheaper, apart from some C3 vealer heifers that topped the sale at 218¢/kg.

A larger number of grown steers were penned after last week’s improved rates, while grown heifers also attracted strong demand at dearer levels. Bull prices have also being improving over the past couple of weeks. The large cow numbers have led to Naracoorte’s sales splitting from next week, with cows and bulls being sold on Friday’s until further notice.

Mt. Gambier’s numbers nearly doubled after last week’s improved prices. Most of the usual buyers were operating at rates similar or slightly cheaper.

Fluctuating trends

Small numbers of vealer steers sold to the trade and local butchers from 182¢ and 215¢ at rates 6¢ to 15¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifer sales also on small lines to the trade sold between 165¢ and 222¢ at prices varying from 3¢ to 30¢ cheaper, and 3¢ to 19¢/kg dearer. There was feeder and restocker activity for light and medium weight yearling steers at fluctuating prices that ranged mainly between 140¢ and 190¢ due to the varying quality. Trade purchases of C3 steers tended to range between 165¢ and 200¢ at rates 3¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifers followed a similar pattern, with feeders and restockers paying mainly from 139¢ to 172¢ at mainly dearer levels. However, trade purchases were basically unchanged, with C3 sales ranging from 164¢ to 189¢, or around a 320¢/kg cwt average.

Grown steer prices were generally 3¢ to 10¢ cheaper, with C3 and C4 sales from 168¢ to 190.5¢, with carcase weight prices mainly between 325¢ and 350¢/kg. Large runs of grown heifers generally sold from 130¢ to 178¢, at rates 5¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. Cows were mainly 1¢ to 4¢ dearer, with most 3 to 5 scores selling from 130¢ to 158¢, or 265¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

South endures cold snap

Rainfall in the southwest of WA remained limited this week with southern coastal regions receiving the majority. Temperatures have dropped sharply with several cold days having been endured mid-week. Producers in the southwest and lower end of the Great Southern have good moisture levels however the feed availability is still limited. Some are describing this as being a “green” drought where lack of sunshine and wet conditions have hindered pasture growth and consequently impacted animals abilities to fatten and grow, which some suggest will see a later and lighter turn off of this year’s calves. Areas in the Gascoyne recorded some further rainfall this week and mustering activity continues to see very strong supplies of pastoral cattle being forwarded into Midland’s saleyards. These grades of cattle again influence the markets total numbers.

The supplies of local cattle in WA’s southern saleyards, as would be expected at this time of year, remain low despite the Great Southern Saleyard throughput rising close to 600 head. The majority of cattle in this market continue to be sourced from draw areas to the east of the shire with few local drafts appearing in yards and this is again evidence of the local feed conditions.

As been the case in recent months, the supplies of heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifers remain low and given that most were sourced from pastoral areas, quality remained mixed. Trade weight yearlings were also reasonably hard to find and demand from local processors remained solid, while vealer numbers are all but non-existent.

Cow rates rise sharply

The vast majority of new season vealers seen in WA’s saleyards are of calf weights. Solid supplies remain and demand from the local retail sector has waned in the face of these numbers, allowing restocker more access to the market. There also continues to be good supplies of lightweight pastoral heifers and these again met a conservative demand. Locally bred trade weight yearling steers and heifers continue to be of mixed quality, but despite this a solid demand was again recorded from the local processing and retailer sectors with overall rates for both sexes remaining similar to recent week’s quotations.

The volumes of locally bred store cattle remained reasonable irrespective of the areas that they are being sourced from. The market continues to record a very solid demand from the restocker and feeder sectors with the market showing encouraging signs due to the positivity of this demand. Heavyweight steer and bullock rates were similar to recent weeks, despite some higher rates recorded, but an improvement in quality was also evident. The largest moves in market rates this week were in cow and heavyweight bull categories which both benefited from a stronger demand and competition from the processing trade sectors.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Supply lifts and prices appreciate

Cattle availability across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards increased 5% this week, with the majority of markets yarding higher numbers. Dubbo and Forbes both yarded 54% and 28% more head respectively contributing to the overall higher yardings. However there were some markets which recorded fewer numbers than last week, with supply at Gunnedah and Wagga easing 22% and 21% respectively.

The increase in numbers comes as producers continue to offload cattle in response to the lack of rain and deteriorating season. However with the recent rain in the south of the state and with the anticipation of more in the coming days, supply at some markets declined as producers hold onto stock. The forecast has also sparked interest from restockers with prices improving as a result.

Quality across the markets was mixed, with some good runs of cattle both off crop and supplementary fed. There were also a fair number of plainer lines put forward by producers which reflect the current dry conditions.

Competition across the markets was strong with all regular buyers in attendance along with extra buyers operating at some markets. The majority of the vealers and yearlings were suitable for feeders and restockers, with most selling to a dearer trend. Overall numbers of vealers and yearling steers declined while yearling heifers increased 13% which was captured by both feeders and restockers. Prices also improved for the grown cattle offered despite export demand remaining sluggish. Cow numbers lifted considerably across the state, increasing 37% overall, with numbers almost doubling at Wagga.

Improving prices

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to slaughter improved 5¢ in value to settle at 179¢ while those to restockers sold to a top of 198¢/kg. Lightweight C2 vealer heifers mostly sold around 183¢ while the medium weight lines averaged 174¢ with sales to 191¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers improved 8¢ in price to 177¢ while the medium weights to feeders made from 153¢ to 188¢/kg. A good run of heavyweight 3 scores to slaughter improved 3¢ to finish at 177¢/kg. Lightweight C2 heifers to restockers sold to a top of 168¢ while the heavyweight 3 scores to processors improved 1¢ with sales to 183¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers to feeders ranged from 155¢ to 178¢ to be 8¢/kg dearer. The heavyweights to slaughter mostly sold around 170¢ while a good run of bullocks averaged 164¢ with sales to 180¢/kg. Medium weight C3 grown heifers improved 2¢ in value to 156¢ to top at 170¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows lifted 4¢ – to 120¢ while the 3 scores mostly sold around 122¢ with sales to 136¢/kg. Heavyweight 3 score cows made from 110¢ to 139¢ while the 4 scores averaged 3¢ dearer at 134¢ as sales topped at 143¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

The promise of some rain reduces numbers

The fall in prices experienced the previous week and some rain forecast resulted in supply at MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets recording a decrease in numbers by 31%. Overall quality remained mixed, nevertheless some well presented grades are still coming forward especially in the grown cattle sections.

Buyer representation at most markets was good however not all export processors were operating, and with just a promise of some light rain increased numbers of restocker's were present and lifted values of lightweight well bred lines.

A large number of calves from dry areas in the west of the state were penned at Dalby and despite the large supply most met good demand from local restockers and prices responded accordingly. With the overall drop in supply average prices for slaughter grades also improved with vealer heifers averaging 4¢/kg better. This improvement also flowed onto local trade lines of yearling steers with most around 2¢/kg dearer. The fall in prices experienced in recent weeks for yearling heifers turned around with medium and heavyweights lifting in value by 2¢ to 6¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks at markets early in the week tended to slip further in value, nevertheless by midweek despite the absence of some processors from the buying force, prices tended to firm. Cows generally sold to a firm enquiry; however, closing markets experienced a small rise in some categories.

Demand for old crop sorghum feed grain remains on the softer side as buyers seemed to be confident of rain. The prospect of rain has kept buyers fairly quiet, despite little or no rain falling across the growing areas.

Young cattle dearer

Close to 600 calves returned to the paddock 5¢ dearer at 183¢ with some pen lots reaching 220.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade sold to a market 4¢ better at 164¢ with a selected few purchased by butchers at 194.2¢/kg. A good sample of yearling steers returned to the paddock 14¢ dearer at 181¢ while most classes of yearling steers to feed sold in the mid 170¢/kg range with some to 185.2¢/kg. Slaughter grades improved 2¢ to also average in the 170¢ range with sales to 195.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 7¢ dearer at 159¢ with sales to 165¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade averaged 2¢ better at 162¢ and heavyweights averaged 6¢ dearer with isolated sales of certified grainfeds to 194.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 174¢ with sales to 180.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 168¢ while a fair supply of good heavy bullocks averaged close to 167¢ with a few to 177.6¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows remained firm at 112¢ and 3 scores also experienced no change at 123¢, and good heavy cows averaged 2¢ better at 133¢/kg. Heavy bulls made to 145¢ with most close to 135¢/kg.

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