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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

29 January 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Eastern states active on vealers

Further good rainfall was recorded in the far north of state with the remnants of small cyclone bringing good levels of moisture. Further south in the Agricultural districts conditions have remained predominately fine and dry with only light falls of rain recorded in areas including south of the Great Southern. Areas in the far south coast remain dry and short of feed with very little or no growth of perennial grasses due to the dry conditions and this continues to influence producers to off load cattle.

Supply at physical sales was lower, despite Midland seeing a rebound in its total. The vealer sale at the Great Sothern yards was considerably lower after the two very large numbers of the previous sales. Agents are reporting that numbers will now begin to slow down with the end of the two day sales format set to end at the end of February.

Processor demand for cattle continues to be conservative at physical markets with solid numbers still being sold direct to works and consequently slaughter space remains at a premium. Processors continue to battle with a high A$ value and cheaper imported product being brought onto the local market from the eastern states.

The vealer and store yearling markets both received solid demand from the eastern states over the last couple of weeks from both feeders and restockers with orders operational from Queensland, SA and Victoria. Live export demand continues to be solid in the south and this has aided the market.

Processor demand conservative

There was less weight available in vealer categories. Eastern states feeder demand was again recorded and this had a positive affect on the market. Trade weight yearling supplies continue to be reasonably tight with grain finished drafts all but non-existent and the majority still being sourced from grass. Quality remains very mixed. Competition on steer drafts was again recorded from live exporters and the local trade and this saw firm rates paid. Heifer drafts recorded at slightly lower rates, but the mixed quality offered over the past week did have an influence on local trade demand.

The numbers of heavy weight steers and bullocks were restricted and as has been the case in recent times. Demand from processors remained firm with little or no change realised to prices. The smaller supplies of heavy weight grown heifers recorded a discernable rise in prices, but caution must be taken given the lack of supply when viewing the rise. The cow market started the week at lower values with sales down by as much as 10c/kg lwt. Heavy weight bull rates were firm, while lightweight and vealer bulls continued to record a solid live export and export feeder interest.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Yardings down

In a week effected by a public holiday it was no surprise to see throughput decline 49 per cent. This fall could have been a lot larger as only half of the regular markets reported by MLA’s NLRS actually conducted sales. Of those markets that did operate all centres except for Dubbo recorded larger numbers which was due to the improved prices of recent weeks. Comparatively, at Wagga the ongoing poor season continues to force cattle on the market.

Total January yardings across the state was down 58 per cent when compared to both last month and year ago levels. The largest reductions were recorded at Dubbo and Gunnedah which would have been a result of the good rains over the Christmas and New Year period. The only markets to go against the trend were Wagga and Casino.

Quality continues to be mixed as the pens of well finished supplementary fed young cattle were interspersed with the usual runs of plainer lines suited to restockers and feeders. The grown steers and bullocks were mostly in good condition as younger lines were in demand while at Armidale some 4 tooths realised a 4¢/kg rise. Most of the cows were in fair condition with some very heavy weights offered.

Prices across the indicator categories were also varied. Vealers to slaughter were 2¢ to 8¢/kg dearer while the few purchased by restockers were cheaper. Yearlings to feeders lost up to 9¢ with heifers most affected. The few good light and medium weights sold close to firm. Grown steers were firm to cheaper with heavy weights and bullocks suffering the largest falls. Cows remained unchanged.

Prices varied

Very few calves were yarded with large price fluctuations recorded for the 1 scores. Medium weight vealer steers to the trade lifted 4¢ to average 203¢ after selling to 209.2¢/kg. Light vealer heifers improved 2¢ to 202¢ as the medium weights mostly sold around 199¢/kg. A couple of very good B muscle medium weights topped at 212¢/kg. Light and medium yearling steers to feeders ranged from 171¢ to 176¢ to be 5¢/kg cheaper as those returning to the paddock suffered similar looses in making in the early 170/kg range. Only a very small number of medium weight C3s averaged 178¢ as heavy weights made closer to 164¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to restockers averaged 161¢ as medium weight C3s to slaughter sold closer to 160¢/kg.

Most of the medium weight grown steers were purchased by feeders from 161¢ to 170¢ as the few to slaughter made closer to 160¢/kg. Heavy C4s were outnumbered by leaner 3 scores as both made from 159¢ to 163¢//kg. The few bullocks made to 172.2¢/kg to average163¢/kg. Lean medium weight D2 cows averaged 115¢ as the D3s sold around 124¢/kg. Heavy cows reached 148¢ with most selling closer to 130¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Hot weather influences numbers

The Australia Day public holiday resulted in the cancellation of sales in a number of selling centres and overall numbers at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS fell 26 per cent. However most other markets not affected by the public holiday reported increased numbers, with early week sales almost doubling in size. Dalby recorded an increase of close to 20 per cent as the hot weather rapidly deteriorates pasture growth in the areas that did received some rain recently. Silverdale recorded their largest yarding since July 2007.

At sales early in the week only top quality lines received strong demand while average prices tended to ease in places, as not all the usual export buyers were present. Nevertheless there was a fair line-up of feeder operators and a large contingent of restocker buyers. However despite numbers climbing at Dalby, a full panel of export buyers were present and operating and were able to absorb the increased supply plus lift the buying rates. The stronger buyer support also flowed onto the young cattle with selected lines of vealer steers to restocker's considerably dearer while yearling grades to feed and the trade improved 7¢ to 9¢/kg. With some processors particularly active steers and bullocks gained 8¢ to 10¢, and cows generally improved by 1¢ to 4¢/kg and more in places.

The end of week market at Roma saw numbers decreased slightly from the previous prime sale and a full panel of buyers helped maintain solid competition throughout the sale following the lift in values experienced the previous week.

 

Steers and bullocks dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 184¢ and sold to 195.2¢, while those returning to the paddock reached 198.2¢ to average 185¢/kg. Vealer steers to restocker's made to 208.2¢ and a fair sample averaged 200¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade improved in value by 11¢ with most around 187¢ with a few sales to 196.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 185¢ and restocker grades mostly sold around 190¢/kg. A lift in the standard of the medium weight yearling steers to feed resulted in average prices improving by 11¢ with sales to 204.2¢ with the majority around 189¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to the trade made to 178.2¢ to average 164¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed met stronger buyer support to average 173¢, while medium weights averaged cheaper at 168¢/kg. The trade purchased heavyweight yearling heifers and average 164¢ with sales to 178.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter across all markets averaged 3¢ better at 174¢ and sold to 186.2¢/kg. A large sample of good heavy bullocks averaged 7¢ dearer at 175¢ with some to 185.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 116¢ and 3 scores 125¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to a top of 147.2¢ with most close to 136¢/kg.

 

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Lack of demand

By all reports the cattle industry should be better than what is indicated by market trends. Increased prices for 90CL grinding beef, tight supply for the Japan market, and a general shortage of cattle across the eastern seaboard should all be a catalyst for higher prices. The lack of demand and high A$ continue to be major factors behind current prices. Some butchers continue to quote poor demand for quality cuts of meat, and with schools going back next week this is not likely to improve.

However, throughout the shortened working week, due to the Australia Day public holiday, only a small supply of lightweight vealers sold to stronger demand. Some major sales did not occur on Tuesday, and all other markets were reduced in number. While some sales reported reduced quality, a lot of good quality was offered in Gippsland.

The EYCI for the weeks was slightly higher at 323.75¢/kg cwt however; the improved demand from feedlots is a major driver behind its current level. Saleyard prices in Victoria though had very little impact this week with prices quoted mostly at unchanged rates for cattle meeting EYCI specifications. Some sales quoted cheaper prices because of plainer quality, and there were small increment rises in places.

Bullock and cow prices all failed to hold ground with prices firm to 4¢/kg cheaper. Competition for vealers suiting the Sydney market lifted prices by as much as 7¢/kg, as the supply in NSW is currently low due to recent rain.

Cheaper trend

Top quality B muscle vealers peaked at 194c/kg, but the average for C muscle vealers was around 160¢/kg with the quality mostly being good. Feedlot and restocker competition did help this average with a reasonable number purchased between 147¢ and 174¢/kg. The major C muscle yearling steers and heifers averaged 1¢ to 4¢/kg lower. Steers made mostly between 144¢ and 169¢/kg with some supplementary fed steers to 176¢/kg. Heifers triggered most of the cheaper prices with good quality grades varying from 135¢ to 156¢, and fed heifers made to 170¢/kg.

Despite three markets not operating on Tuesday, which would normally produce reasonable numbers of grown steers and bullocks, prices still eased. Prime C3 and C4 steers and bullocks made between 145¢ and 158¢/kg. Producers are leaving bullocks on farm longer in order have the weight gain to give a better dollar return. While better quality beef cows generally sold at unchanged rates from 116¢ to 133¢/kg, leaner cows averaged 2¢ to 5¢ down making between 72¢ and 118¢/kg, which belies the 90CL price of 328¢/kg FAS.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Smaller numbers

Naracoorte finished off last week with two weaner sales, with the steers on Thursday afternoon and the heifers on Friday morning. Both sales sold to solid South Eastern restocker orders from Tintinara to Mt. Gambier, with additional competition from Dubbo, Mudgee, Barbra and Nyngan in NSW after the good rains received recently. There were other buyers from Hamilton, Apsley, Leongatha, Swan Hill, Roseworthy and Ballarat adding to the mix.

Overall, the yarding was a credit to their vendors even though many EU registered pens were opted out. The 3,336 mainly weaned vealers averaged $532/head at an average of 183¢/kg lwt that was assisted by the lightweight unweighed steers selling to close to 240¢/kg lwt. The C3 heifers ranged between 156¢ and 175¢, with the D3 sales141¢ to 175¢ and the lightweight spring drops an estimated 185¢ to 200¢/kg for the better quality, and 110¢ to 146¢/kg for the plain D1 Herefords.

As thought the SA LE’s numbers fell after the hammering prices took the previous week, and even with the smaller numbers of mixed quality cattle offered, prices tended to retreat further. With no Naracoorte sale, there was a similar numbered offering at Mt. Gambier that also generally sold to a weaker trend with vealers probably the hardest hit. There was an increased yarding of grown steers and bullocks that failed to maintain last week’s good prices.

Millicent also had a reduced sized yarding of mainly good quality young cattle that with reduced buyer’s attracted a weaker trend.

Most categories cheaper

It was a week of mainly lower prices; with B muscled vealer steers to the trade selling from 170¢ to 190¢ at rates 3¢/kg dearer, while C muscled sales were between 146¢ and 175¢ at rates 4¢ to 13¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers between 150¢ and 162¢/kg, also at lower rates. Vealer heifer sales were another 5¢ cheaper on last week’s lower prices, as C3 sales ranged between 142¢ and 172¢/kg. Feeders and restockers paid 142¢ to 160¢ for the C2 heifers. Yearling steers were 4¢ to 8¢ cheaper, with C3 sales 136¢ to 166¢ and isolated B muscled sales to 175¢/kg. Yearling heifer prices retreated another 2¢ to 4¢ as C3 sales ranged between 130¢ and 152¢, with D3 sales 120¢ to 132¢/kg.

Grown steer sales were erratic with medium weights 4¢ cheaper, and bullocks 5¢/kg dearer as most sold from 135¢ to 160¢ and averaged close to 268¢/kg cwt. Grown heifers were the exception, being 3¢ to 15¢ dearer selling from 115¢ to 155¢/kg. The D2 cows were 8¢ dearer due to restocker activity paying from 104¢ to 119¢, with the 3 to 4 scores ranged from 110¢ to 129¢/kg or 220¢ to 255¢/kg cwt.

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