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 22 January 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A large increase in supply

Dearer prices and some areas still suffering from the continuing dry combined to increase the QLD cattle yarding as reported by MLA’s NLRS to over 14,000 head. The Northern markets are yet to recommence operations, while selling centres in the south of the state experienced increases in supply of 50 per cent to 60 per cent. The Roma prime and store market was also included in NLRS data for the first time, adding to the positive supply trend.

Recent rainfall in the Maranoa district brought a large number of buyers into the market at Roma where restocker's took advantage of the improved weather conditions in the region. While the rain remains patchy across parts of the state, optimism was high during the sale with plenty of spirited bidding between feedlotters and restockers. Values for export grade steers, bullocks and cows commenced the week on a firm to dearer trend and developed further as the week continued.

Heavy steers to export slaughter finished the week 8¢ better, and some good samples of cows gained 2¢ to 6¢/kg. Young cattle also received strong demand with yearling steers to restocker's improving over 20¢/kg in places. Feeder descriptions gained 5¢ to 10¢, while small samples of slaughter grades lifted in value by 5¢ to 9¢/kg. This trend generally flowed onto the yearling heifers with local trade categories 3¢ to 4¢ dearer and the better end of the feeders improved by 8¢/kg. However, medium weight C2s to feed experienced very little change in value. Some early sorghum has been harvested and the small amounts offered has met a lack of demand from users, and the market eased back from the levels seen in previous weeks.

Restocker classes dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 185¢ with the occasional sale to 223.2¢, while those returning to the paddock averaged 195¢/kg. Vealer steers to the trade mostly sold around 185¢ with some to restocker's reaching 203.2¢/kg. A good supply of vealer heifers to the trade made to 196.2¢ to average 176¢/kg.

Yearling steers dominated the young cattle section making up close to 55 per cent of the young cattle penned. Restocker grades made over 200¢ on a number of occasions with a large sample of lightweights averaging 193¢/kg. Feeder descriptions also in large numbers averaged 10¢ dearer at 179¢, with sales to 192.2¢/kg. Heavy slaughter grades made to 194.2¢ with most around 170¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling heifers to feed and restockers generally sold in the 160¢ range while better lines to feed averaged just under 170¢/kg. Medium weight C3s to feed averaged 176¢ and sold to 184.2¢ while heavy grades to the trade averaged 163¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 170¢ while bullocks averaged 168¢ and sold to 177.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 110¢ while those returning to the paddock averaged 119¢/kg. Medium weight 3 scores averaged close to 125¢ and a large portion of good heavy cows sold 6¢ better at 138¢, with sales to 147.6¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Larger yardings

It is amazing how one week when smaller improved quality yardings sell to a dearer trend, tend to drag larger very mixed quality yardings the next week that attract a mainly weaker trend. The Australia Day holiday next Tuesday with no Naracoorte sale could see limited demand on Monday and may also be another reason for the increased numbers offered this week.

The SA LE yarded more than doubled and included a generally good quality young cattle run that sold to a much weaker trend provided by the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeder orders from the Adelaide Plains and the Mid North also operated, albeit at reduced levels. While vealer numbers remained small, producers would not have been prepared for steer prices to fall by around 20¢, and the heifer’s 23¢/kg and would make producers wonder why they bother to yard prime stock.

Naracoorte’s numbers swelled two and half times which also attracted a mainly weaker trend due to the slip in quality, with only a few pens of prime supplementary fed steers attracting any solid bidding at slightly dearer levels.

Mt. Gambier had a similar sized yarding in mainly good quality runs that generally attracted a slightly dearer trend, with only very plain quality being hard to sell. There were quite a few prime bullocks weighing above 800kg lwt, while most cows have been selling at lower levels at all sales on the large numbers being offered at present. Millicent’s larger yarding featured mainly very good quality young cattle.

Fluctuating trends

The lower prices paid at the SA LE had an affect on all categories apart from cows that sold at mainly lower rates at all sales. Trade purchases of vealer steers were limited, with B muscled sales 165¢ to 187¢, and the C muscled 145¢ to 189¢/kg. Feeders and restockers secured C2 steers from 156¢ to 172c as all steers sold at rates ranging from 2¢ to 9¢ cheaper and 3¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers sold at rates unchanged to 3¢ dearer, with trade purchases of C3 heifers 146¢ to 184¢/kg. Feeders paid from 140¢ to 181¢ on a mixture of C and D muscled heifers. Some yearling steers were 12¢ cheaper, while others were unchanged with C3 sales 140¢ to 165¢ to the trade and C2 sales to feeder activity 140¢ to 170¢/kg. Yearling heifers were 3¢ to 5¢ cheaper with C3 and C4 sales 130¢ to 155¢/kg.

Grown steers were unchanged to 5¢ dearer with C3 to C5 sales ranging from 145¢ to 166¢, and averaging 275¢/kg cwt statewide. Beef cows were unchanged to 3¢ cheaper, with the 3 to 5 scores selling from 105¢ to 135¢ and mainly in a 220¢ to 255¢/kg cwt price range.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply jumps

All centres reported by MLA’s NLRS realised increased yardings as total throughput increased 55 per cent. Around half of the markets jumped 50 per cent to over 100 per cent with the others recording less dramatic gains. One factor is the public holiday next which will result in no markets at all next Tuesday. The slight improvement that has been recorded to prices at the physical level and the 5¢ to 10¢kg cwt list to direct to works prices, may have also contributed to greater numbers being yarded. The season in parts of the far west and Riverina with its lack of stock water and feed supplies also helped to lift numbers.

The greater supply included generally mixed runs with some centres reporting increased numbers of secondary cattle. Good quality cattle were still in fair runs. Young cattle and in particular yearlings accounted for 69 per cent while around 28 per cent of the total throughput were grown steers and cows.

All the regular buyers were present and active while a couple of centres had extra restocker orders from northern areas providing a solid floor the market. Prices were varied but the majority of indicator grades were able to sell to dearer levels. Good young cattle to slaughter were up to 6¢/kg dearer while some the plainer line to restockers recorded larger gains. The much larger numbers had a negative impact on some young cattle with the yearling heifers suffering price falls. Even though the A$ is still high, grown steers were firm to dearer while cows were 5¢ to 8¢ dearer with the higher yielding heavy weights lifting 10¢/kg.

Prices edge higher

The EYCI lifted 6.5¢ on both last Thursday and the corresponding time last year to 321.75¢/kg cwt. This is its highest level since the third week in September 2009. Medium weight vealer steers to slaughter averaged 199¢ after selling to 209.2¢ as those returning to the paddock sold closer to 188¢/kg. Almost half of the vealer heifers yarded were medium weight C2s purchased by processors which remained fully firm at 191¢/kg. Medium and heavy C3 yearling steers ranged from 167¢ to 174¢ as the feeder portion mostly sold from 168¢ to 173¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to restockers lifted 4¢ to 163¢ as medium weight C3s to slaughter lost 5¢ to average 161¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 165¢ as processors paid closer to 160¢/kg. Heavy C4s eased just 1¢ to 164¢ while the bullocks were up to 11¢ dearer after selling to 174¢ to average 168¢/kg. Light grown heifers to slaughter remained firm at around 150¢/kg.

The light and medium weight cows purchased by restockers made form 114¢ to 117¢ with isolated sales to 129.2¢/kg. Medium weight D3s averaged 123¢ with the heavy D4s selling around 128¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Vealer numbers again high

The Kimberley continues to enjoy a reasonable wet season with further good falls recorded this past week. The Murchison and Gascoyne regions also recorded rainfall from isolated thunderstorm activity and this did create some localised flooding. The temperature across the state was very hot with a heat wave covering the weekend and into the mid-week periods with southern temperatures recorded in excess of forty degrees Celsius. Feed levels in many traditional southern cattle areas remains limited with many producers now considering supplementary feeding with a near record dry period having now been recorded. Perennial growth in these southern areas has been virtually unseen and further complicated stocking conditions and producers abilities to turn stock off.

Processors continue to report full slaughter schedules and this week saw the reopening of WA’s second largest beef processor after a maintenance break. The very hot weather of the early to mid parts of the week did impact physical sales earlier in the week with Midland having its lowest yarding for quite some time. The strong turnoff of vealers from southern regions continued with the Great Southern yarding again utilising all of its penning space with nearly three thousand again going under the hammer. Trade weight yearling steer and heifer supplies were negligible and quality remained very mixed on the tight supplies. Heavy weight steers and bullocks continued to have minimal supplies irrespective of saleyard, while cow numbers were again buoyant as producers cull after the sale of vealers.

Live export activity remains solid in the southern regions with good numbers being sent out of southern ports.

Restocker lift vealer market

The hot conditions and tight feed supplies continued to impact the weight, condition and quality of vealers. Weight and quality were both lower with agents predicting that there will only be a couple more weeks of the strong turnoff with the majority of vealers having now been sold. The difficulty that many producers had in selling yearling grass cattle and the added time it took this year, held many out of the market to restock. This however turned around this week with considerably strong demand recorded and this had a positive impact on the prices of both steer and heifer vealers, while hampering the ability of the feeder sector to purchase at the same time. Trade weight yearling steers again benefited from an improved live export activity and this helped compensate for the plainer quality and lower processor demand.

The good supplies of heavy weight cows failed to deter an increase in processor competition as prime drafts saw rates rises between 2¢ to 3¢/kg. Plainer conditioned cows were again sourced for restockers for fattening and turn off later in the year. Live exporters continued to source good numbers of lightweight bulls for the live market.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

All markets larger

Cattle supply jumped by 50 per cent compared to an irregularly small couple of weeks. Wether this is producers selling cattle because of higher prices for young cattle, or typical summer weather patterns affecting pasture is still to be determined.

However, one factor that was in part the reason is the Australia Day public holiday next Tuesday. There are five Tuesday markets reported by MLA’s NLRS that will not be operating, and coupled with expected smaller Monday markets the day before. Wodonga, Shepparton and Pakenham were certainly affected this way with much larger yardings. However, other markets were also larger, particularly Ballarat and Bairnsdale.

Quality being penned at all sales is generally quite good, but the lift in supply did include more plain condition cattle. Demand was stronger for some of the vealers, and a small selection of yearlings, but coupled with stronger feedlot demand, prices were 2¢ to 7¢/kg dearer for young cattle. The improvements to young cattle prices are highlighted by the EYCI, which at the completion of Thursday’s markets was 6.5¢ higher at 321.75¢/kg cwt.

Bullock supply was higher with total throughput accounting for around 20 per cent of states yarding. Despite a lot of good to very good quality grown steers being offered, demand was unchanged and although varying between sales, prices remained unchanged.

The price of 90CL grinding beef to the US is higher at 309¢/kg FAS however, the high value of the A$ kept demand at recent levels. Prices were unchanged to 4¢/kg cheaper most likely due to greater supplies.

Young cattle dearer

Strong demand for vealers weighing up to 360kg lwt resulted in some sales between 176¢ and 190¢/kg achieved. These vealers realised most of the price increases of up to 4¢, as most of the good to very good quality vealers made between 160¢ and 180¢/kg. The supply of vealers was large at southern markets, but overall yearling steers and heifers outnumbered vealers. Prices were firm to dearer with C muscle steers making from 143¢ to 176¢/kg. Similar heifers made between 135¢ and 167¢/kg.

Producers have held back grown steers and bullocks over recent weeks, and combined with good seasonal conditions, there was greater number of very good quality cattle that were carrying plenty of weight. This included a number of manufacturing steers, both crossbreds and Friesians. Steers mouthed 0 to 2 tooth made up to 164¢, but prime C3 and C4 bullocks ranged from 136¢ to 157¢, and averaged around 152¢/kg. The carcase weight price average for cows was 238¢/kg with liveweight prices varying across the state. Prices for most cows were between 95¢ and 128¢ with top quality to 143¢/kg. A large number of bulls sold at cheaper rates with heavy bulls from 102¢ to 157¢/kg.

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