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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

06 November 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 down

The public holiday early in the week was only supposed to be in Melbourne but it affected the supply at all markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Even though only Melbourne abattoirs where closed, and Tuesday was the only day affected, all sales for the week were reduced. The drop in supply was nearly 40 pre cent with all classes of cattle affected.

However, with a vast area of Victoria experiencing a very good spring, most cattle are in good condition. In order to find any poor condition cattle one had to go through cow sales, and not as many lean cows are now being sold. Normally, given this scenario, prices would be at least firm, and in some cases dearer.

However, poor meat sales still created poor demand and prices were firm at times, but mostly 3¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper. The public holiday was also a factor behind cheaper prices, as poor sales to Japan, the US and other overseas customers created lower prices for cows and grown steers.

It is prudent to note that trends varied between the different sales with Colac achieving higher prices on Thursday, but at the other end of the state at Bairnsdale, results were dismal with buyers staying away form a small market. Some cattle were very cheap, while others which received little competition were passed in and returned home. East Gippsland producers have sold off a lot of their herds, and are now preserving breeders. Numbers are not expected to increase for some time yet.

Cheaper prices

Prices varied markedly between the selling centres as the EYCI continued on its downward trend At the close of trade Thursday, the EYCI was down a further 4.5¢ week on week to 300.25¢/kg cwt. On Monday at Pakenham some of the largest falls were recorded with a smaller but good quality penning selling to poor demand. As there was no sale the next day, some grown cattle were also penned. The best quality B and C muscle vealers and yearlings fell the most with the top quality cattle making to 220¢, but most made from 155¢ to 200¢/kg. The disappointing part of most young cattle sales was the prices for heifers. The range of prices for good quality was anywhere between 110¢ and 165¢/kg.

Grown steers only made to 168¢, and prime bullocks struggled to make over 158¢ to average close to 150¢, which was 7¢/kg cheaper.

Although cow prices were lower, the average fall was only 2¢/kg. Better quality beef and dairy cows made between 112¢ and 134¢ with younger cows making to 145¢/kg. Leaner cows sold well making from 75¢ to 120¢/kg.

South Australian weekly cattle summary

Numbers decline

While the SA LE yarded slightly higher numbers, has Naracoorte started to run out of young cattle with a much smaller yarding greeting most of the usual trade and processor buyers. However, although Mt. Gambier had initially drawn for 2,700 cattle for its sale that will now see split markets commencing from Monday November 16th at 9.00am for bulls, grown steers and cows, a sightly reduced yarding actually yarded. Millicent agents put together a similar sized yarding for its now weekly market.

Both the SA LE and Naracoorte featured quite mixed quality yardings, the former selling to an easing trend from the usual contingent of local butchers, wholesaler and processor buyers. While feeder orders were a little more restrained, restockers provided strong competition for a draft of very light pastoral bred mixed sex calves sold on a $/head basis between $220 and $440/head. A few more vealers were offered with local butchers and feeder orders sourcing the majority. Grown steer prices on larger numbers were cheaper, with cow prices slightly lower and including nearly 50 per cent being pastoral bred.

Naracoorte’s sale tended to fluctuate as the Victorian buyers sourced stock for Wednesday’s kill after the Melbourne Cup. However, there was a distinct lack of heavy cattle that left a couple of buyers hamstrung. There were pockets of excellent quality Limousin vealers that attracted spirited bidding.

Onlookers and agents at Mt. Gambier were a little taken back as all the regular buyers lowered their rates on all categories despite the good quality yarded.

Most categories cheaper

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 170¢ to 200¢ for the C3 steers, and 180¢ to 218¢ for the B muscled at rates 2¢ to 16¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders generally paid from 150¢ to 195¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales were 3¢ to 18¢ cheaper as C3 sales ranged between 156¢ and 194¢, and the B muscled 180¢ to 209¢/kg. Feeders and restockers paid from 126¢ to 171¢ over a wide range of quality. Yearling steers were 1¢ to 8¢ less, with C3 sales 140¢ to 172¢ and a few B muscled selling from 150¢ to 181¢/kg to the trade. Other orders secured a mixture of 2 scores mainly between 136¢ and 175¢/kg. Yearling heifers were generally 2¢ to 8¢ cheaper, with C3 sales mostly 143¢ to 158¢, and the C4 sales 135¢ to 152¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks were 5¢ to 8¢ cheaper with C3 to C5 sales ranging from 145¢ to 160¢/kg or 260¢ to 280¢/kg cwt. The C4 grown heifers sold from 134¢ to 144¢ to be 1¢ to 3¢/kg lower.

Cows were generally 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper, with 3 to 5 scores selling from 110¢ to 134¢, and mainly in a 230¢ to 260¢/kg cwt price range.

West Australia weekly cattle summary

End of spring season

There was virtually no rainfall recorded in the southern Ag districts of WA during the week with only limited falls recorded in the southwest and Great Southern from isolated thunder storm activity. The majority of areas have now seen pasture paddocks hay off and any rainfall now will be more detrimental rather than advantageous to feed supplies and quality. Hay production has now all but been completed while harvest has begun in the northern Ag regions and some agents are now commenting that there is the possibility of more speculative grain feeding of cattle this year based on the cheaper prices currently being advertised for cereals. Temperatures in the northern pastoral areas of the state have risen to hot levels and this impact on mustering and other cattle work. Despite this fact Midland continues to see large supplies of cattle turned off from pastoral stations. Subsequently Midland remained the largest of the three weekly sales with the Great Southern sale coming in second with slightly fewer supplies available.

The volumes of heavy weight steers, bullocks and heavy weight heifers remained constrained irrespective of market location. The volumes of locally bred trade weight steers and heifers increased with the quality of these again very solid. Store yearling numbers were also solid, while the supplies of this year’s new season vealers were again larger. Agents in the Great Southern believe that given current seasonal conditions the turnoff of vealers will rise sharply within the next three weeks. Cow supplies outside of pastoral drafts were lower based on recent weaker demand.

Cow market regains losses

The increasing supplies of new season vealers in physical markets were once again predominately of light and medium weight. Any heavy weight calves recorded a solid demand from the local trade and retailer sectors, while medium weight sales continued to receive a reasonable feeder and restocker demand. The solid quality of trade weight yearling steers and heifers helped to maintain a similar level of demand and competition from the local processing sector with little or no change realised in rates. The reasonable supplies of local yearling stores was met by an increase in feeder demand that created slightly dearer rates on both medium and lightweight classes irrespective of sex.

The weaker processor interest seen in recent weeks for heavy weight steers and bullocks continued, but despite this there were little changes in values compared to the previous week. This was also the case in heavy weight heifer classes, while the weaker volumes of locally bred cows, created by the lower rates of the previous couple of weeks created stronger market conditions from processors with rates rebounding. Heavy weight bull market followed a similar trend with overall rates dearer, while an equal live export demand fro lightweight saw firm value realised.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Numbers up, quality mixed

Following the rain affected yardings last week but the lack of follow up falls could not stem the flow of cattle as supplies at MLA’s NLRS reported markets lifted 26 per cent. Most markets recorded greater numbers. Only CTLX, Forbes and Goulburn offered reduced throughput. Just on half the cattle offered were penned at the major markets of Dubbo, Gunnedah and Wagga. When compared to the corresponding week last year throughput is around 50 per cent higher.

Quality continues to be mixed and at some centres it was below recent weeks. There were the usual plainer pens along with well finished cattle scattered throughout. This was highlighted at Dubbo were plain lightweight young cattle through to good quality heavy steers and bullocks were offered. The cows also contained runs suited to restockers as well as good lines which were purchased by processors.

The EYCI reached its lowest level of 300¢ since February on Wednesday, but increased albeit on slightly to 300.25¢kg cwt after Thursday’s markets. This is still down 4.5¢ on last week and 27¢/kg cwt below this time last year.

Young cattle accounted for 60 per cent of the total throughput. Most of the young cattle offered were yearlings with the heifer portion representing just over half the yearlings. Around three quarters of the vealers and calves offered were purchased by processors on the other hand, 62 per cent of the yearlings were secured by feeders and restockers. Grown cattle were again dominated by cows as grown steers and cows numbers both increased 30 per cent on last week.

Cheaper prices

Calf prices varied considerable with processors paying to 237.2¢ with most sales closer to 188¢ as restockers paid to 20¢/kg. Vealer steers were spread over a wide range of categories as medium wights returning to the paddock sold around 170¢ to be 6¢ cheaper while those to the trade averaged 181¢ a fall of 11¢/kg. Light C2 vealer heifers went against the trend to be 4¢ dearer at 199¢ as similar medium weights dropped 14¢ to 170¢/kg. The better quality light yearling steers sold around 167¢ while the plainer lines averaged 142¢/kg. Medium weight C3s lost 7¢ to 163¢ as feeders paid closer to 161¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to the trade and restockers were 3¢ cheaper at 148¢ as those to feeders gained 3¢ to 150¢/kg. Medium weight C3s to slaughter also fell 7¢ while the heavy weights lost 3¢ to average 148¢ and 146¢/kg respectively.

Most of the medium weight grown steers were purchased by feeders around 155¢ while those to slaughter averaged 151¢/kg. Heavy steers made to 168¢ to average 155¢ while the bullocks sold closer to 154¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows averaged 114¢ while the leaner 2 scores sold around 108¢/kg. Heavy cows reached 137¢ as the D4s averaged 122¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Dry weather lifted numbers

The continuing dry weather and a lift in market values encouraged an increase number of cattle into the saleyards, with physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS recording a rise of 13 per cent. A reduced number of stock were available at markets early in the week nevertheless at Warwick the small rainfall totals in the supply area resulted in numbers climbing to a higher-level. This trend was also evident at Longreach where numbers jumped to the highest level for a number of months as warmer conditions take hold onto stock and pastures.

Overall quality across the state has deteriorated with larger numbers of lightweight plain condition young cattle coming forward. The high demand experienced the previous week from southern and local operators on calves and vealers continued with average prices rising further for lesser quality stock. The forecast of more storms to moved through southern districts turned around the subdued demand displayed by restocker's the previous week as a larger contingent of restocker buyers returned to the buying panel. Feeder demand varied in places according to quality with overall competition remaining very solid. Slaughter grades of yearling heifers experienced a small increase of 2¢ to 3¢/kg with supplementary fed and certified grainfed descriptions receiving the most attention.

Stronger buyer support from additional export processors at most markets in the south of the state resulted in slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks lifting in value by 4¢ to 5¢/kg. Cows experienced a mixed trend in values, the larger number of light weight poor condition grades penned lacked restocker support and values tended to ease. However medium and heavyweight 3 and 4 score grades sold to good competition from processors and values generally remained fully firm.

Vealer heifers dearer

Calves to the trade and restocker's both made over 200¢/kg with most in the early to mid-180¢/kg range. The occasional B muscle vealer steer made to 203.2¢ with C2s mainly in the 160¢/kg range. Vealer heifers to the trade improved a further 14¢ with sales to 197.2¢ with a fair sample averaging 186¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restocker's gained 3¢ to average 178¢ with sales to 190¢/kg. Lightweight classes to feed averaged 173¢ while medium and heavyweights sold in the 160¢/kg range. Medium weight slaughter grades averaged 170¢ and sold to 186¢/kg. Yearling heifers were well supplied and supplementary fed lightweight lines made to 194.2¢ with most close to 167¢, and medium weights sold around 155¢/kg.

A small sample of medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 160¢ and sold to 165¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 5¢ better at 167¢ while a good sample of bullocks made to 174.2¢ to average 4¢ dearer at 165¢/kg. Lightweight score 1 cows averaged 79¢, while medium weight 2 scores averaged 111¢ and 3 scores 122¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to the occasional 143¢ with the largest numbers at 130¢/kg.

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