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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

23 October 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

Slaughter falls

Slaughter figures are down a long way in Victoria year on year, but more important is the lack of cattle in saleyards with MLA’s NLRS reported markets only contributing around 30 per cent to that tally. This figure would normally be around 45 per cent. Given the lack of cattle being offered at physical markets, it shows how many cattle are potentially coming from other states, mostly New South Wales (NSW) to offset the states production. With prices in other states being very tentative, there has been no benefit to Victorian producers for the lack of supply.

To add further heartache to producers, there were further price falls for both young and grown cattle, particularly earlier in the week. This demise can be best realised in the EYCI, which was down another 6.75¢ on last week to 302.25c/kg cwt. In general weaker demand led to price falls between 1¢ and 7¢/kg for young cattle, but trends varied for grown cattle.

Over all physical markets, a slight lift in supply was witnessed however some markets were noticeably lower, but most sales were unchanged to larger. As the good spring conditions start to have an effect on the condition of cattle, most reports were of better quality. This compounded the outcome for processors. Poor meat sales is the main reason behind cheaper prices for young cattle, while the ever increasing value of the A$ against world currencies is affecting the demand for grown. Prices trends have varied between the different saleyards, depending on what individual outcomes were achieved the previous week. While this affected bullocks, cows and bulls, heavy steers to the trade were also cheaper.

Plain cattle cheaper

It was difficult to get over 200¢/kg for the best quality high yielding vealers and yearlings with most B muscle grades making between 178¢ and 207¢/kg. Only Wodonga and Pakenham achieved prices up to and over 200¢/kg, and these sales were limited. The C muscle cattle contributing to the EYCI made from 155¢ to 185¢/kg for vealers and yearling steers, but yearling heifers were not as fortunate. Prices for C muscle heifers were between 135¢ and 178¢/kg. Only supplementary fed yearlings lifted the averages with sales up to 200¢/kg. Plain D muscle cattle and plain condition grades sold poorly making from 110¢ to 158¢/kg.

Prime grown cattle prices were less affected with most 1¢ to 3¢/kg cheaper. Huge variations were seen in grown steer prices with sale ranging from as low as 132¢ for older plain lines to 176¢, but the average was around 154¢/kg for all categories.

Cow sales later in the week did improve slightly, but overall varied little, week on week with most making from 100¢ to 138¢/kg. The carcase weight price average was closer to 246¢/kg. Bulls continue to sell poorly with good quality heavy bulls making around 139¢/kg.

South Australian weekly cattle summary

Large numbers in SE

It was a strange sale week as the SA LE’s smaller yarding and little wonder after the previous week’s lower priced sale, tended to attract a dearer trend and probably due to those small numbers being offered. The usual trade and processor buyers were operating, with local butchers providing solid competition for the small number of vealers offered, although a feeder order snaffled the largest number of lightweights. Feeder buyers were able to lower their prices for light yearling steers, while lifting them for the heifers. Trade purchases of C3 yearling steers were dearer however the yearling heifer equivalents remained basically unchanged. A small number of grown steers and heifers recouped much of their lower prices, while cows in small runs attracted a mixture of orders.

Naracoorte’s slightly reduced numbers tended to attract a weaker trend with most categories losing ground on last week’s fluctuating priced sale even though most of the usual trade and processor buyers were operating. Feeder and restocker orders sourced a wide range of quality, and at times did not have to worry about any trade competition. Most categories were cheaper with only a few supplementary fed B muscled yearling steers being dearer.

Mt. Gambier‘s large yarding also attracted a mainly weaker trend, with only prime B muscled vealer steers selling at slightly dearer levels.

Millicent agents offered a larger yarding for its fortnightly sale in generally good quality runs of mainly vealers before recommencing their spring weekly markets next week.

Fluctuating trends

Vealer steers sold at rates 2¢ to 3¢ dearer, and 2¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper with C muscled sales 180¢ to 200¢ and the B muscled 186¢ to 217¢/kg to the trade. Feeder and restocker orders paid from 164¢ to 203¢ over a wide range of quality. Most vealer heifers were anywhere between 4¢ and 17¢ cheaper on larger runs that sold to the trade mainly between 154¢ and 205¢/kg, with B muscled sales at the higher end. Most yearling steers were 3¢ to 5¢ cheaper, with only isolated supplementary B muscled sales dearer from 175¢ to 189¢/kg. However, most C3 sales ranged between 155¢ and 174¢/kg. Feeders and restockers sourced C2 steers between 154¢ and 188¢/kg, with lightweights preferred. Yearling heifer prices were generally 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper on large runs, with C3 sales 155¢ to 176¢, and the 4 scores 145¢ to 164¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks in good quality runs were mainly 1¢ to 3¢ cheaper as most C3 and C4 sales ranged between 150¢ and 171¢, or 270¢ to 302¢/kg cwt. While isolated sales of cows were 1¢ dearer, most others were 1¢ to 8¢ cheaper with carcase weights mainly in a 240¢ to 270¢/kg price range.

West Australia weekly cattle summary

Weekend heat wilts pastures

Another week on fine, dry weather was received in the southwest corner. Temperatures over the weekend rose sharply and this coupled with strong easterly winds combined to have a derogatory affect on pastures with many have now run up and beginning to hay off. This caused some producers to let stock into hay paddocks in southern parts of the Great Southern and many now expect that they will not receive any real benefit from spring this year and feed supplies across the summer months will be tight. Hay production is in full swing with the majority of areas now all but nearing completion of this year’s crop.

The warmer conditions over the past month has seen an increase in the turnoff of local cattle, but the tight feed conditions seen over the winter and spring this year are evident in the quality and condition of many penned at physical markets. Agents continue to report that there will be lighter over all weight in this year’s calf turnoff and early numbers should be solid and offered in the next month or so.

The spring turnoff has begun with all saleyards having increased numbers penned. Despite this the number of heavy weight steers and heifers remained limited with smaller supplies of prime grass finished trade weight yearlings available. Cow supplies were solid due to a large influx once again of drafts from pastoral regions. The young store grades were again the major contributor to all markets with solid numbers of pastoral heifers available.

Export grade values slide

There were very solid numbers of lightweight vealers penned again with the vast majority witnessed at Midland. The strong supplies of these classes continue to have a dampening affect on market conditions with demand from the processing and restocker sectors remaining conservative. There were larger numbers of vealers penned with the majority either of light or medium weight and in store condition. Any prime medium and heavy weight drafts received a solid local retailer and processor competition, while lightweight and plainer conditioned drafts realised a firm restocker and back grounding demand from the feeder sector.

Trade weight yearling steer quality was very mixed and spread over a wider range. The improved numbers, coupled with the mixed quality saw a weaker trade demand recorded at values fell by up to 10¢/kg. This was also the case in heifer classes, while the store market continued to be well supported by both restockers and the feeder sector irrespective of sex or weight.

The rising AU$ continues to have a negative impact on the demand and subsequent market rates of heavy weight export grades of steers, heifers cows and bulls.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Young cattle dominate

Overall cattle supply increased, albeit by only 3 per cent as just over half the markets reported by MLA’s NLRS realised a gain. Dubbo, Gunnedah and Wagga followed where they left off last week and accounted for almost 50 per cent of the total throughput. Around 58 per cent of the total cattle penned were young cattle with yearlings dominating as calves and vealers represented just 22 per cent of the young cattle supply. Cows were again in the larges number of the grown cattle section.

Quality remains mixed and this is not surprising considering the variable seasonal conditions across the state. This was highlighted at Dubbo were a fair percentage of the yarding were from western districts while at CTLX there were some better finished young cattle and an improved selection of cows.

All the regular buyers were present however prices have continued to ease for some categories. Good quality lots were again receiving the strongest enquiry particularly on the young cattle and it took a very good quality animal to make over 210¢/kg. Vealers were 2¢ to 9¢ cheaper but greater variations were realised. Yearlings on the other hand were firm to 10¢/kg cheaper. The variable feeder and restocker interest along with the trade impacted on the EYCI which declined 6.75¢ to 32.25¢/kg cwt, which is the lowest level since February this year when it dipped to 299¢/kg cwt.

Considering the current level of the AU$, grown cattle sold well. Grown steers finished from 2¢ dearer for medium weights through to 6¢/kg cheaper for bullocks. Lightweight cows suffered the most variation as medium and heavy weights finished firm to 5¢/kg cheaper.

Mixed price signals

Prices across the state were generally cheaper although there were some prime grades which improved in value, most notably vealer steers and heifers. Quality continues to paly a major part in prices with stock condition reflecting the current state of the season in most central and northern areas.

Vealer steers were in tighter numbers and this helped to accentuate the improved trend. Vealer steers averaged 174¢ to 179¢ with the odd pen out to 203¢/kg. Vealer heifers held up considerably well given current conditions, with C2s making in the 162¢ to 172¢/kg range.

Medium weight C muscled yearling steers dropped 2¢ to average 170¢ and feeders dropped 3¢ to average 162¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feeders averaged 152¢, processor lines 155¢ and restockers paid 144¢/kg.

Grown steer prices gained 3¢ to average 156¢ and heavy grown steer rates average firm at 161¢/kg. Best grown steer prices sold to 173¢/kg. Cow prices remained firm for medium weight D3 and D4s, at 117¢ to 123¢/kg. Heavy weight cows sold in the 121¢ to 125¢/kg bracket and also showed some stability on last week. Any cows in plain condition or of light weight continued to be hard to move. Bull prices averaged 123¢/kg across all categories.

Qld weekly cattle sumamry

Dry weather continues

The dry weather continues and the number of stock penned at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS remained very close to the previous weeks high-level. The selling centres in the north of the state recorded a fall in numbers, however supply at southern markets increased with the largest lift in numbers experienced at Dalby.

Markets early in the week contained some large consignments of steers bullocks and cows from western and far western border districts and this trend was still evident by midweek. There was a large drop in the supply of both vealer steers and heifers nevertheless the number yearling grades penned remained relatively high with large samples purchased by the feedlot sector.

Values generally tended to stabilise and most classes sold to a firm market. The variation in the standard of the vealer heifers allowed average prices to ease at some markets nevertheless quality lines still commanded a fairly high rate. Restocker's were more selective on the lightweight yearling steers and this also reflected in average prices, however well bred grades were still keenly sought-after. Feeder grades continued to receive strong support regardless of most categories being well represented. Despite the large supply of yearling heifers to the trade buyers were able to absorb the large numbers plus keep prices very solid.

Export grades of heavy steers and bullocks receive strong support from processors and average prices remained firm. There was a small lift in the supply of good heavy cows following the very low numbers the previous week. Values generally followed a similar trend to the steers and bullocks with the largest samples experiencing no change in value.

All classes firm

Calves to restockers made to 206.2¢, with poor condition grades mostly around 170¢, and trade descriptions made to 187¢ to average 174¢/kg. Vealer steers returned to the paddock at just under 180¢ with sales to 187.2¢, while lesser quality lines averaged 158¢/kg. Vealer heifers sold to processors at an average of 168¢ with a few sales recorded to 187.6¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged close to 172¢, medium weights around 163¢ and heavy weights at 166¢/kg. Lightweight restocker lines averaged 170¢ and a relatively small number of trade descriptions averaged in the early to mid-160¢/kg range. A large supply of yearling heifers sold to the trade at 153¢ with sales to 165¢, while certified grainfed's in the heavyweight range made to 176.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed made to 169.2¢ with a fair sample averaging close to 162¢/kg. Heavy steers remain firm at 161¢, and good heavy bullocks mostly sold around 160¢ with a small selection of certified grainfed's reaching 172.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows were in the largest numbers and received no change on the previous week to average 111¢, while 3 scores averaged 120¢/kg. Good heavy cows mostly sold around 126¢ with very isolated sales into the 140/c/kg range.

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