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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

30 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

Grown cattle cheaper

Supply doubled at Pakenham on Monday, and increased at most other selling centres with a public holiday next Tuesday effecting only a couple of markets. Pakenham grown cattle and Camperdown markets will not be selling and it is expected that most other sales will tender smaller numbers with abattoirs in Melbourne closed also.

Both Pakenham young cattle sale, and Colac on Thursday tendered a much larger supply, and both of these sales suffered the most with price falls of 4¢ to 10¢/kg reasonably common.

Cheaper prices early in the week across the eastern states affected the EYCI, which was 303¢/kg cwt on Monday. However, some firm to dearer trends at other sales during the week led to the EYCI closing Thursday 304.75¢/kg cwt.

Demand varied a lot over all classes of trade and export cattle with quality, supply and opportunity affecting the outcome. However, there was one regular trend at all markets, and that was for grown steers and bullocks. Prices for these were 3¢ to 6¢ cheaper averaging only 158.5¢/kg. Price trends for cows varied between the different saleyards, and between categories.

With the spring season in full swing, female cattle are putting weight fast, but also they are putting on fat. Quality was better at all sales, and several very fat 5 and 6 score cows are being penned. This increase in weight and fat cover is affecting prices, and yearling heifers are suffering the most.

Feeders quiet

The prime vealer season has commenced in parts of Gippsland, and this resulted in greater numbers of good quality vealers to be offered at Pakenham. Demand however softened for these along with any supplementary fed yearlings. The top price for vealers was 219¢, and yearlings 205¢, which was a fall of 6¢/kg. However, most of the good quality B muscle cattle made between 176¢ and 200¢/kg. Prices for C muscle vealers and yearlings were between 150¢ and 185¢, although large variations were noted either side of these prices. Feedlots have shown little interest, as cattle put on feed now will be turning off around Christmas, and this is usually a very quiet time for meat sales. Their purchases were mostly between 145¢ and 173¢/kg.

The supply of grown steers is increasing, as quality is improving. Therefore prices ranging from 145¢ to 166¢/kg, as their carcase weight prices eased with dressing percentages lifting. Cow prices have varied between 3¢ dearer and 2¢/kg cheaper. Better quality beef cows made from 122¢ to 140¢/kg. The supply of lean cows has declined and prices for most 1 and 2 score cows were from 85¢ to 127¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Numbers retreat slightly

Despite a larger yarding at the SA LE, there was a slightly reduced yarding at Naracoorte that attracted a mainly weaker trend, with only isolated sales being dearer when a couple of buyers took each other on. Mt. Gambier had a smaller yarding, while Millicent’s numbers also fell. Both the latter markets sold to a mainly weaker trend, with only prime C and B muscled vealer steers and heifers attracting solid competition from Victorian wholesalers at dearer levels. While most of the SA and Victorian buyers were operating, some were only sourcing limited numbers as were local butchers.

Lines of pastoral bred yearlings, grown heifers, manufacturing steers, cows and bulls complemented the inside cattle that were penned at the SA LE and Naracoorte, and were not immune to the overall weaker prices being paid. Feeder orders were active, albeit being a little more selective than normal at generally lower rates. Most yearling steers to the trade were 9¢ to 11¢ cheaper as all sales fell below the 190¢/kg mark.

Naracoorte’s and Mt. Gambier’s sales featured improved quality runs of young cattle. However, most categories sold to a weaker trend as the perceived numbers game comes into play. There were excellent quality runs of grown steers and bullocks yarded at Mt. Gambier, and even with the A$ still high, prices fell only marginally with even dairy cross bullocks selling just only a few cents below their higher yielding beef bred counterparts.

Most categories cheaper

It was a week of generally falling prices as the usual trade and processor buyers tightened their belts despite the mainly good quality available. Prime C3 and B2 vealer steers sold between 180¢ and 218¢ at rates generally unchanged to 8¢kg dearer. However, C2 sales to trade, feeder and restocker activity sold from 162¢ to 180¢ at prices 2¢ to 14¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers followed a similar pattern with C3 and B2 sales 2¢ to 7¢ dearer, and mainly between 173¢ and 204¢/kg. On the other hand C4 sales were 5¢ to 27¢ cheaper selling mainly from 145¢ to 167¢/kg. Yearling steers were generally 5¢ to 11¢ cheaper with C3 sales ranging mostly between 150¢ and 169¢/kg. Yearling heifers followed suit with C3 sales 130¢ to 166¢ and C4 sales 136¢ to 155¢, or 8¢ to 13¢ cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders secured a wide range of quality from 50¢ to 152¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks were 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper as most C3 to C5s ranged from 152¢ and 168¢, and mainly in a 275¢ to 300¢/kg cwt price range. Cows were generally 1¢ to 7¢ cheaper, with most carcase weight prices ranging from 235¢ to 260¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Numbers on the rise

There was some limited rainfall recorded in the southern Agricultural districts with the largest falls recorded in the far southwest. Areas in the southwest and southern coastal areas remain green and some benefit will be gained from higher moisture levels, but with hay production in full swing the overall benefit has been questioned.

The wet conditions realised in the southern Great Southern and southwest of WA coupled with low levels of sunshine continue to have a negative affect on pasture growth and many now believe that there is little chance of a spring flush given the lateness of the season. The low feed levels and lack of sunshine have also impacted negatively on cattle growth and their ability to fatten and agents continue to report that vealer turnoff weights in these regions will be lower than normal.

The local market for beef remains depressed with larger levels of eastern states product impacting the market and several processors have already dropped numbers of their slaughter programs given the difficulty of moving product. The higher A$ is also proving difficult for export processors and the combination of the above is seeing lower levels of demand for beef across the market.

Cattle levels at the major physical markets were higher. Midland remained the largest of these sales due to a very large turnoff of pastoral cattle. Trade weight yearling numbers were higher this week; cow supplies were also healthy, while the supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers remained limited.

Trade demand conservative

Vealer supplies are currently on the increase as some producers opted to turnoff earlier than normal in an endeavour to save feed supplies for their breeding herds. The majority remained light and medium weights with only tight supplies of heavy weight recorded. Trade demand on the latter remains reasonable, while restocker demand on medium and lightweights was again buoyant with little or no change realised in rates. There was an increase in the quality of trade weight yearling steers and heifers. Trade demand remained firm despite the increase in the afore mentioned with the market for both similar to the previous weeks’ quotes. There were solid numbers of store cattle available. Strong restocker demand was realised in the Great Southern and this saw a slight increase in overall averages.

The stronger dollar value again had a negative affect on the demand and subsequent rates of heavy weight steers, heifers and bullocks with the market again retreating. This was also the case in cow categories with heavy weight 3 and 4 score grades back 3¢ to 5¢/kg lwt. Heavy weight bulls followed a similar pattern with lower values realised but this has had little affect on supply.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Rainfall tightens supply

Supply across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards in NSW fell 30 per cent on last week. Scattered rainfall across the state with the anticipation of more to follow not only restricted the movement of cattle but also encouraged producers to hold on as feed sources improved. The lack of demand for cattle, both domestically and internationally, has also further encouraged producers to hold on which has been made possible with the recent rain. As a result, Casino throughput fell 33 per cent on last week while Dubbo witnessed a 50 per cent drop in numbers.

The drop in supply was evident across all grades with vealer steer and heifer supply falling 36 per cent and 26 per cent respectively week-on-week. Yearling steer numbers declined 31 per cent with restockers capturing less than half the previous week. The heifer portion slipped 25 per cent in numbers, however restocker purchases remained steady while those to slaughter fell back 22 per cent.

Processors were less active on grown steers which was heavily influenced by a 17 per cent reduction in throughput week-on-week. Cows followed in a similar fashion with a 40 per cent drop in state supply.

The quality of cattle entering the markets improved this week however still remains mixed. Given the recent rain, producers have been more inclined to hold onto plain unfinished lines and turn of quality conditioned cattle ready for market.

Cattle going direct to slaughter generally met a firm market as most processors held rates unchanged on the previous week. The recent rain encouraged several processors to take a wait and see approach however the lack of demand and high A$ continued to encourage a few processors to pull prices back.

Prices unchanged to dearer

Lightweight C2 vealer steers to slaughter mostly sold around 197¢ with some sales to 210¢ while the medium weights returning to the paddock improved 1¢ in value to average 176¢/kg. The medium weight heifer portion purchased by processors made 184¢ while those to restockers improved 7¢ to 166¢ with sales to 207¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers sold to 192¢ while the medium weights to feed averaged 165¢c to be 4¢/kg dearer. The heavyweight C3’s held firm to range between 145¢ and 163¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers averaged 150¢ while the heavyweight 3 scores to slaughter mostly sold around 149¢ with sales to 180¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers in 3 score condition averaged 154¢ with sales to 165¢ while the heavyweights to slaughter held firm at 160¢/kg. A good run of bullocks generally sold from 148¢ to 172¢ to average close to 160¢/kg. Medium weight grown heifers eased 2¢ in value to 140¢ while some sales reached 154¢/kg. The medium weight D2 cows sold to a top of 120¢ while the majority of the 3 scores remained unchanged at 116¢ with sales to 129¢/kg. The heavyweight 3 scores ranged from 105¢ to 133¢ while the 4 scores averaged 125¢ with sales to 137¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Isolated storms reduced numbers

The last rain event to move across the southern half of the state proved to be very disappointing in a large number of districts. Some good totals were recorded in western districts and areas close to the coast but apart from some isolated strips receiving useful falls a large area of the Darling Downs missed out completely.

However the isolated falls across the supply area and a promise of some more resulted in reducing overall numbers for the week at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by close to 20 per cent. Supply at early week markets generally experienced very little change as most stock were in transit before the isolated storms eventuated. Nevertheless by midweek storms in places reduced numbers at Dalby by over 30 per cent.

Overall quality remained good to useful and the forecast of some rain encouraged producers to hold onto plainer lots. Supplementary fed lines also helped maintain a good standard in the yearling grades and some consignments were also noticeable the steer and bullock sections.

The high rainfall totals over the border helped lift values on calves, vealers and lightweight yearling heifers with improvements of over 10¢/kg in places. Values for yearling feeders generally remained very strong and a lift in the quality of the medium weight yearling steers saw average prices improve. Restockers were very active at early week markets however by midweek with most disappointed in the rain some plain condition grades lost ground in value. Export slaughter lines of heavy steers and bullocks generally experienced a firm market with top-quality lines receiving strong support. Cow prices followed a similar trend with some good heavy cows attracting good competition.

Calves vealers dearer

Calves to the trade improved 10¢ to average 184¢ after selling to 201.2¢/kg. The largest sample of vealer steers gained 9¢ to average 176¢ with a few B muscle lines to 190¢/kg. Vealer heifers in the south of the state made to a top of 201.2¢ with most 4¢ dearer at 173¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers averaged 175¢ and sold to 202.2¢/kg. A large sample of medium weights to feed made to 177.2¢ to average 168¢ and slaughter grades averaged a similar amount with sales to 191.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers received the flow on demand from the vealer heifers and lifted in value by 13¢ to average 167¢ and some certified grainfed's reached 188.2¢/kg. Medium and heavyweight slaughter grades mostly sold in the 150¢/kg range with a few to 178.2¢/kg.

A small sample of medium weight grown steers to feed for the export slaughter market lost 2¢ to average 159¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter experienced very little change in value at 162¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks sold in a wide range from 155¢ to 177.6¢ with a fair sample remaining very close to firm at 161¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows received no change in value at 112¢/kg. A fair supply of good heavy cows mostly sold around 130¢ with the very occasional sale to 143.6¢/kg.

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