Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 18 December 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Cyclone brings rain to the north.

The far north has witnessed the first of this year’s cyclones hit its shores with many areas recording very high rainfall and subsequent flooding. The storm has now crossbred the coast and continues on a south-eastern path. It has turned into a less harmful rain bearing depression that should bring welcome rainfall to many pastoral regions and it tracks southward. After the very hot temperatures recorded in the latter part of the previous week milder conditions were received this week.

Outside of the normal weekly sales, agents have begun their annual female and feeder sales with weaker demand recorded for the former. The first of the premium sales saw substantial numbers passed in, with many producers unsure of the near future of industry.

The vealer turnoff in the traditional cattle producing areas of the southwest continues and as was predicted turnoff weights are well below normal showing the signs of a tight winter growing period. The lack of fertiliser in recent years due to the inflated prices that were in place at that time, which has also impacted negatively on pasture growth and quality.

Midland and the Great Southern remained the largest of the three weekly sales with the former continuing to see pastoral cattle supplies diminish. The high current turnoff of grass cattle and a restricted processing capacity continue to plague the market, while the prices also has to contend with a high A$, weak international demand and cheaper imported eastern states product.

Weak demand for lightweights

New season vealer supplies remained very strong. The market continues to see a lack of heavy weight vealers and these again were met by a reasonable feeder inquiry, while lightweight drafts were again discounted under a weak demand. The supplies of prime trade weight steers and heifers remained relatively limited irrespective of which market was looked at with quality remaining very mixed. Trade inquiry continued to be conservative and the market again realised selective feeder inquiry by healthy percentages of both steers and heifers.

Heavy weight steer, bullock and grown heifer numbers were again very restricted, which given presented market levels is not to be unexpected. Once again processor demand and competition for all three of these classes was conservative and the market again recorded slightly lower pricing levels. There was a slight but discernable drop in the supplies of heavy weight local cows. This coupled with a slight increase in processor competition allowed prices to recorded small gains after the falls of the previous few weeks. This was also the case in heavy weight bull classes, while lightweight and vealer bull sales were again activity sought after by the live export sector.

South Australian weekly cattle summary

Larger numbers

This has become the last sale week now that Mt. Gambier is not having a sale next Monday due to many processors last kills early in the week. Sales are expected to kick off 2010 on Monday January 4th with SA LE and Mt Gambier export grades and young cattle on the Wednesday.

Whatever happens there were larger yarding at the SA LE which sold to the usual trade and processor buyers at much weaker levels. However feeder orders were active on the young cattle at reasonably firm prices. There were some disappointing prices for D1 pastoral yearling steers that could on attract 86¢, while the D2 pastoral heifers sold at 90¢ to 92¢/kg. Most prime yearling steers sold at rates 3¢ to 14¢ cheaper with heavyweights most affected, with the heifer portion 5¢ to 11¢/kg less and not much reward for good quality C3 steers and heifers. Small numbers of cows failed to sell for more than 111¢/kg.

Naracoorte’s numbers increased dramatically and sold to steady trade and processor competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers, albeit with some only operating on a limited basis due to the varying quality. Yearling steers and cows in larger numbers remained basically unchanged, while all other categories sold at generally lower prices.

Mt. Gambier offered a reduced yarding and also sold to a generally weaker trend, with only isolated sales being dearer. Millicent agents yarded 693 for the last sale of 2009, and featured more of the renowned districts good quality vealers.

Cheaper trend

In the last sale week for 2009 there was a generally easing trend as numbers outweighed demand, with only isolated sales in a few categories dearer. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 162¢ to 188¢ for the B muscled, with C3 sales 158¢ to 185¢ at rates that were mostly 4¢ to 10¢ cheaper, with some sales 4¢ to 5¢/kg dearer where quality suited. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers from 147¢ to 167¢ at mainly lower levels. Vealer heifer sales fluctuated from 3¢ to 15¢ cheaper, and 2¢ to 4¢/kg dearer as the few B muscled sold from 162¢ to 186¢, with C3 sales 154¢ to 183¢/kg. The weaker trend at the SA LE led to C3 yearling steers being 4¢ to 10¢ cheaper selling between 130¢ and 165¢/kg. Yearling heifers in large numbers sold at rates 3¢ to 10¢ cheaper, with C3 sales 123¢ to 154¢ and C4 sales 128¢ to 146¢/kg.

Grown steer prices remained basically unchanged with C3 sales mainly 140¢ to 157¢ and around a 250¢/kg cwt statewide average. Most cows were 1¢ to 3¢ dearer, with 3 to 5 score beef cows selling from 103¢ to 134¢, or 225¢ to 255¢/kg cwt.

Queensland cattle summary

Supply falls

There was a dramatic reduction of close to 80 per cent in supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS. Some selling centres have already closed for the Christmas break and with a reduced panel of export buyers present in the buying panel, numbers at the remaining markets experienced much smaller numbers.

Overall quality continues to be very mixed with only small selections of well presented young cattle penned. Values generally improved for calves, vealers and lightweight yearlings. Calves improved around 4¢ and vealer heifers gained up to 13¢ with butchers, wholesalers and processors battling to secure adequate numbers to carry over the annual closure. However the strong buyer activity did not flow on to medium and heavyweight yearling steers and heifers. Despite a reduced number being penned supply was still more than adequate to meet demand and values continue to fall 3¢ to 4¢/kg.

Isolated falls of rain in places encouraged a number of restocker buyers back into the marketplace and values generally maintained a firm trend with some lines improving in value. A reduced number of feeder buyers were present nevertheless the few in attendance were keen to make purchases. Should rain continue over the supply area during the Christmas break numbers of feeder cattle will experience a dramatic decline. However should good rain not eventuate by the time markets resume in the new year the quality of stock coming forward may have deteriorated too far in condition to grain feed.

The dry season during the year has had a big impact on supply with saleyards in the south of the state generally recording larger numbers with supply increasing by up to 10 per cent at Dalby. However a reverse trend developed in the north with numbers at Longreach reducing dramatically.

Calves and vealers dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 4¢ better at 174¢ with sales to 187.2¢/kg. The occasional vealer steer with show ring potential made to 203.2¢ while the remainder mostly sold around 162¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade improved in price by 13¢ to average 171¢ with a handful purchased by local butchers at 192.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 163¢ and medium weights 151¢/kg. Medium and heavyweight yearling steers to the trade lost 2¢ to 4¢ with most just into the 150¢/kg range. A small sample of lightweight yearling heifers purchased by the trade lifted in value to average 161¢ with sales to 182.2¢/kg. Medium weight trade classes averaged 3¢ less at 150¢ with some to 165¢/kg.

A small selection of certified grainfed heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 155¢ and sold to 160¢, while a handful out of the paddock average 151¢/kg. A pen of certified grainfed bullocks made 159.6¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 5¢ cheaper at 99¢, while 3 scores remained firm at 115¢/kg. A couple pens of good heavy cows experienced very little change in value to average 124¢ with sales to 131.2¢/kg.

New South Wales cattle summary

Supply falls for final sales

The supply of cattle across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards fell 35 per cent on the previous weeks larger than normal yardings. The influx of cattle last week consequently resulted in fewer head penned. With the Christmas break fast approaching, several buyers were not in the market due to supply requirements already met. This combined with the falling prices of last week encouraged producers to hold on. Consequently, Dubbo witnessed 58 per cent less cattle and Gunnedah’s yarding fell 36 per cent from the record offering of last week.

The quality of the cattle that has been entering the saleyards continues to be mixed with a growing proportion of plain unfinished lines. The lack of condition coming forward reflects the deteriorating season with several head forced onto the market due to lack of feed reserves or water. The cattle however that are going direct to slaughter or feed continue to be of fair to good quality. Various areas lucky enough to be under a few scattered storms in previous weeks combined with the low value of grain have enabled several contributors to finish cattle off in order to meet specifications.

The value of cattle going through the yards has fallen over the past two weeks with NSW recording the lowest prices for December across the Eastern States. Yearlings averaged 154.5¢ for December, 7.9¢ below Victoria and 3.8¢/kg cheaper than Queensland. The average price for Japan ox registered 5.5¢ and 1.7¢ lower than Victoria and Queensland respectively to settle at 149.7¢/kg for December. Cow prices followed suit to average 107.7¢, 9.1¢ cheaper than Queensland and 12.8¢/kg softer than Victoria.

Prices lift at end of year

Medium weight vealer steers to the trade lifted 6¢ to 175¢ as the heavyweights topped at 187¢/kg. Both the plain and better light vealer heifers to slaughter sold to a dearer trend with most selling from 162¢ to 175¢/kg. Medium weights averaged 169¢ to be 9¢ dearer as a small pen of well muscled heifers sold for 210¢/kg at Casino. Feeders and restockers purchased most of the lean medium weight yearling steers from 153¢ to 154¢/kg as the C3s to slaughter averaged 152¢/kg. Most of the light yearling heifers to all orders made from 137¢ to 140¢/kg.

Most of the light grown steers were purchased by feeders or restockers at dearer prices with only the plainer lines selling cheaper again. The medium weights to feed were firm to 4¢ dearer averaging 142¢/kg while the small number to slaughter were cheaper. Heavy grown steers and bullocks finished 5¢ to 8¢/kg dearer on the back on reduced numbers. Cows continued to sell to a cheaper trend with most 2¢ to5¢/kg cheaper. Despite the seasonal conditions plain light and light cows were firm to dearer to restockers as medium weight D3s to slaughter eased 2¢ to 103¢/kg.

Victoria cattle summary

Markets wind up

Christmas is almost here and this is the last full week of markets. There are only one sale on Monday and another on Tuesday to round up markets for the year. It is interesting this year with Christmas being at the end of the week. Normally in this situation there would be an influx of cattle as there is two and three weeks between sales. However, the very good season and poor prices have combined to see producers keep cattle at home for a little longer. The effect on prices was mostly positive with averages across all of MLA’s NLRS reported sales, averaging firm to 4¢/kg dearer. The increase in young cattle prices was reflected in the final EYCI for the year, which was 5¢ higher at 283.25¢/kg cwt.

Better meat sales to Japan, and slightly improved hide prices helped to lift grown steer prices, while low tonnage to the US of 90CL grinding beef has lifted prices at the wharf giving processors more competition. There have been fair numbers of good quality and over conditioned extra heavy bullocks offered with a pen of Friesians weighing 903kg, and single weighing 1,100kg. Very heavy and 5 and 6 score bullocks were also sold at Leongatha.

Part of the lift in cow prices was stronger demand for the lean 1 and 2 core cows, as the very good season caused fewer of these to be available. Because of the season a good number of well conditioned cows are being sold, and the higher dressing percentages are keeping carcase weight prices at recent levels.

Heifers struggle

The highest prices for top quality B muscle vealers were achieved at Wodonga with the state top of 194¢/kg. With prices rising up to 10¢/kg in places most C muscle vealers made from 140¢ to 180¢/kg. The larger increase was paid for heifer vealers, which have been selling poorly for a number of weeks. There was a reasonable amount of feedlot and restocker activity with feeders paying between 130¢ and 175¢/kg, and restockers paid to a top of 184¢/kg for light weight steers. Supplementary fed yearlings made to 187¢, but most steers made from 140¢ to 170¢/kg. Heifers still struggle to sell to strong demand making between 120¢ and 162¢/kg. .

Prime C3 and C4 grown steers and bullocks made from 135¢ to 159¢, and averaged around 148¢/kg. The very heavy and over conditioned bullocks made from 106¢ to 136¢/kg.Cow prices did vary a lot, due partly to the quality, but equally due to stronger demand for the leanest cows suiting the US market. Good quality beef cows made from 118¢ to 134¢, and other cows were mostly between 72¢ and 118¢/kg. The average carcase weight prices for cows was 234¢/kg cwt.

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