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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

25 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.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Numbers impact

Once again the supply of cattle was on the downturn with significant falls witnessed at Shepparton, Leongatha, and Pakenham’s young cattle sale. Other markets reported by MLA’s NLRS were either slightly smaller with only a couple of markets able to offer larger yardings. Even with this trend of smaller numbers, demand was again weaker for most cattle with only a small selection of good quality vealers selling at firm to dearer prices.

Abattoir operations are in turmoil at the moment with most local and export works operating either on reduced rates, or fewer days. One export processor that had managed to keep two shifts a day working has finally reduced their kill to one shift only. They sighted the reason as poor supply after prolonged drought, lack of irrigation and previous dairy herd dispersals as the problem. However, they, and other exporter processors are still also suffering under the current value of the AU$.

As there remain few vealers of any weights offered for sale, the local butcher trade remains strong and prices for select numbers of vealers were firm to slightly dearer. Away form this all young cattle sold at cheaper rates of 4¢ to 10¢/kg common.

Producers still wanting to, or having to sell grown steers, bullocks, cows and bulls would have been disappointed by this week’s results. Only at Leongatha Wednesday did bullocks sell well, up to 8¢/kg dearer, otherwise prices were 3¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper for most grown cattle and bulls were as much as 15c/kg cheaper at some sales. The average carcase weight price for cows was a lot lower at 244¢/kg cwt.

Cheaper prices

The fall in supply of just over 20 did help to keep demand strong for a select number of vealers and some supplementary fed yearlings. The top price for vealers was 227¢ as the supplementary fed yearlings made 229¢/kg. Most reasonable to good quality young cattle made from 170¢ to 215¢/kg, providing they were not too heavy. Once over 400kg lwt prices only ranged between 150¢ to 185¢/kg. All of this affected the EYCI, which was 316.25¢ down 3.75¢/kg week on week. As the quality at most sales was only poor to good, a number of young cattle sold between 135¢ and 170¢/kg.

The only reason that could apply to higher prices for better quality grown steers and bullocks at Leongatha was short supply and the close proximity to some abattoirs. Prices here were between 170¢ and 188¢/kg in contrast to other markets where prices only ranged between 150¢ and 180¢/kg. The average price was only 163¢/kg. Cow prices were poor despite a fall in supply as most lost 4¢ to 12¢/kg. Better quality cows made from 118¢ to 144¢, averaging around 126¢/kg. Leaner cows made mostly from 85¢ to 128¢/kg. Bulls were very cheap with the very best quality only making to 160¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Mixed quality yardings

A larger yarding was offered at the SA LE with the improved quality runs selling to lower levels from the usual operating trade and processor buyers. Despite more feeder orders being available they were reluctant to bid, as sales of light C2 yearling steers fell 16¢/kg. Small lines of pastoral cattle were offered and failed to attract much interest. With only a single vealer steer offered, trade buyers and local butchers were left to source the abundant number of yearling steers and heifers that were offered that made up the largest percentage of the total yarding. A larger run of cows also failed to attract solid competition, as prices slipped back below 120¢/kg for most cows.

Naracoorte yarded a reduced yarding of young cattle; with supplementary fed mainly HGP treated yearlings from Wuddinna on the West Coast being yarded in a sale that sold quite erratically. This was mainly due to the varying quality offered. However, there was some entertaining bidding for mainly light vealers as a couple of Victorian wholesalers tried to outlast each other. This led to some steers selling to 230¢ and the heifers to 226¢/kg for not that much weight.

Mt. Gambier agents also yarded a smaller yarding, with young cattle and cow quality quite mixed, and grown steers in good quality runs. Most categories attracted a varying priced trend with once again fresh quality lightweight vealers attracting the strongest bidding.

Millicent’s good quality yarding contained 455 or 249 head less for its fortnightly sale.

Fluctuating trends

Vealer steers to the trade and local butchers sold mainly from 180¢ to 226¢ at rates varying from 2¢ cheaper, to 5¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders secured the greatest percentage between 170¢ and 200¢/kg, or a couple of cents either side of unchanged. Vealer heifers to the trade were from 163¢ to 226¢ with lightweights at the higher end, and most sales 2¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders secured a wide range of quality between 110¢ and an estimated 202.2¢/kg, with some sales dearer and others cheaper. Large runs of yearlings tended to attract a weaker trend of 2¢ to 9¢ to the trade, with C3 steers selling from 152¢ to 180¢, and the heifers mostly 156¢ to 184¢ with supplementary feds at the higher end. Feeders and restockers sourced C2 steers from 152¢ to 182.5¢ for steers, and 139¢ to 170¢/kg for the heifers.

Grown steer sales were erratic, with some 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper, and others unchanged to 1¢ dearer as C3 and C4 sales ranged between 155¢ and 178¢, or around a 300¢/kg cwt average. Cow prices tended to retreat another 2¢ to 7¢ as carcase weight prices ranged mainly between 235¢ and 265¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Supply on the rise

Supply across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards lifted 16 per cent on last week as several cattle stations recommenced mustering after a two week break. Such factors have resulted in an influx of pastoral cattle onto the market which was highly evident at Midland as supply rose 18 per cent. Great Southern Saleyard witnessed a large number of plain store yearlings onto the market which resulted in a 9 per cent lift in throughput.

The lift in supply was contributed slightly by a rise in vealer numbers however was mainly influenced by a jump in yearling availability. Yearling steer throughput rose five per cent on last week with feeders and restockers capturing the majority of the head. Yearling heifer supply nearly doubled with both the feedlot market and live export capturing the majority of the increase.

Grown steer throughput lifted considerably on last week with processors capturing 81 per cent of the total offering. A significant rise in the number of pastoral cows encouraged a 17 per cent rise in total cow yardings.

The quality of cattle entering the markets has slipped on the previous week which reflects the wet season. Influxes of pastoral cattle and plain store lines have also made up the majority of the yarding with very few supplementary fed cattle available. The drop in quality has been reflected through prices with most grades selling to a cheaper trend. However the limited supply of quality trade and supplementary fed lines sold to solid competition.

Prices Strong for Quality

Lightweight D2 vealer steers destined for live export sold to 162¢ while heavyweight C1 vealers for restocking reached 180¢/kg. Lightweight D2 vealer heifers purchased by restockers made from 125¢ to 144¢ to average 141¢, while the heavyweight C3 vealer heifers to feeders sold to 150¢/kg. Lightweight C1 yearling steers to feeders sold to a cheaper trend down 14¢ to average 160¢, whilst heavyweight two scores to slaughter averaged 169¢ with sales to 184¢/kg. Lightweight D2 yearling heifers purchased by feeders sold to 146¢ up 11¢ with most sales around 131¢, while medium weight two scores bound for live export sold to 155¢/kg.

Lightweight D2 grown steers to feeders ranged from 143¢ to 148¢ while C2 medium weights for slaughter gained 13¢ to settle around 157¢/kg. The D4 Bullocks sold to 138¢, while the C2 scores made from 135¢ to 146¢ with most sales around 141¢/kg. Lightweight D2 cows eased 14¢ to settle at 86¢ while medium weight 3 scores slipped 15¢ with most sales around 110¢/kg. Heavyweight D2 cows to slaughter sold from 100¢ to 128¢ easing 6¢ to 115¢/kg. Lightweight bulls bound for live export averaged 12¢ dearer to 146¢/kg. Heavyweight C2 bulls for slaughter sold from 112¢ to 130¢, easing 10¢ in value to 123¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

State supply falls

Cattle availability across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards fell 20 per cent this week, with the majority of markets recording smaller yardings. Supply at CTLX almost halved compared to last week while numbers at Gunnedah and Dubbo decreased by 35 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. However Casino and Wagga went against the trend as supply held relatively firm. The overall drop in supply comes as significant rainfall was recorded in some areas along with favourable forecasts throughout the state. The recent rain combined with the lower prices experienced last week and beginning of this week encouraged producers to hold onto stock where possible.

Quality and condition varied across the grades, with increased numbers of plainer cattle throughout the yardings. However there were some good runs of supplementary fed cattle offered at a number of markets.

The overall supply of vealer steers held firm, while the availability of vealer heifers decreased 30 per cent from last week. Both yearling heifers and steers also decreased in overall supply with numbers falling 28 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. The overall fall in the number of younger cattle offered was felt by all buying sectors. The number of grown cattle also slipped overall, while there was also a significant drop in the number of cows penned.

The market trend was cheaper through nearly all grades however competition was still strong for the finished cattle. All the regular buyers were in attendance however processors and feeders remain relatively subdued due to the high A$ and weak overseas demand for Australian cattle. Restockers are also somewhat subdued due to the uncertain forecast for the coming month.

Prices continue to fall

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to restockers slipped 1¢ in value to average 175¢ while those to slaughter mostly sold around 174¢ with sales to 200¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers purchased by processors made 145¢ to 194¢ while the 3 scores eased 5¢ in value to 177¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feeders lost 2¢ to settle at 170¢ while heavyweight three scores to slaughter averaged 170¢ with sales to 190¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers purchased by feeders ranged from 135¢ to 178¢ while the three scores to slaughter sold to top of 198¢ with most sales around 161¢/kg.

Medium weight C2 grown steers to feeders ranged from 145¢ to 173¢ while heavyweights to slaughter eased 4¢ in value to 165¢/kg. A good run of four score bullocks made from 155¢ to 181¢ with most sales around 165¢/kg. Medium weight C3 grown heifers eased 3¢ to settle at 151¢ with sales to 167¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows mostly sold around 109¢ while the 3 scores averaged 2¢ cheaper at 121¢ with sales to 133¢/kg. Heavyweight four score cows sold from110¢ to 146¢ with most sales around 129¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Quality tapers off

The continuing hot dry conditions encouraged another large number of stock into the physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS. The overall quality was not up to the previous week standard as available feed on crop and pastures are diminishing very quickly, with no beneficial rain falling across most of the supply areas for almost four months. The harsh conditions in some areas was reflected in the young cattle, with a number of consignments of drought affected calves starting to appear in the selling pens. The standard of the steers, bullocks and cows has tended to taper off nevertheless some very good lines are still coming forward.

Buyer representation has remained relatively good and despite the deteriorating conditions, restockers at this stage are still very active in the market and providing very good competition especially on lightweight drought affected calves. Feeder operators have also helped to put a very solid base in the yearling grades as well as the older grown categories with most classes remaining close to firm with any price changes due mainly to quality.

Strong support from a full panel of export buyers was able to absorb the large supply of steers and bullocks and values generally maintained a solid trend. The good demand displayed by export processors also flowed onto the cows with average prices improving in midweek markets by around 3¢/kg.

The wheat harvest is well underway in central QLD, and has just commenced in southern districts. There are mixed reports about yields and quality coming through, and markets are trading small volumes at present and values are steady to slightly softer.

Mixed demand

A fair sample of drought affected calves returned to the paddock at 185¢ with the occasional pen reaching 219.2¢/kg. The better end of the vealer steers made to 198¢ while plain condition grades sold around 162¢/kg. Values for vealer heifers varied from market to market according to quality, and overall fell in price by 6¢ with a good supply averaging 169¢, with a selected few to butchers reaching 197.2¢/kg. A large selection of yearling steers sold to feeder operators at 173¢ with a few sales to 181.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 174¢ with some to 187.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers to the trade averaged 1¢ to 2¢ better and medium weights at 166¢ and heavy classes 162¢, with a few to 192.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed experienced no change in value at 173¢ with sales to 179.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 172¢ and a large sample of bullocks made to 187.2¢ to average 173¢/kg. Medium weight two score cows remained firm at 115¢ and three scores improved 1¢ to average 125¢/kg. A large sample of good heavy cows made to a top of 147.2¢ with most 1¢ dearer at 135¢/kg.

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