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 12 March 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Young cattle numbers surge

Rain affected sales last week and higher prices have resulted in throughput across the state increasing 14% on last week at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. This is despite Forbes, Wagga and CTLX experiencing fewer numbers due to rain over the weekend. Young cattle made up the majority of the increase particularly at Casino which held its largest sale in around three years after 3,570 head were offered and included around 2,500 young cattle.

Quality remains mixed across the markets with all buyers being catered for. Young cattle and cows were well supplied in the north while export grown steers were in short supply. Wagga offered only a limited number of prime cattle with many lines suitable to feeders and restockers. While at Forbes there was a larger percentage of plainer cattle suitable to feed. Quality is expected improve in the coming months with the good seasonal conditions.

All the usual buyers were present with feeders and restockers continuing to drive prices despite an increase in numbers. The Dubbo market recorded extra competition from a northern feeder which helped to keep prices strong. Strong demand from restockers resulted in them paying up to 25¢/kg more for lightweight vealer steers. Although at Casino the increase in numbers meant most prices fell 14¢ to 15¢/kg.

Over the hooks rates remained firm to slightly dearer this week with some processors lifting rates in a bid to secure supply. On the others some have opted to leave prices unchanged as they expect supply to increase with some fine conditions.

Prices mixed as supply increases

Calves experienced mixed prices with restockers paying less for D1 and 2 consignments although those going to process were 3¢/kg stronger. Vealer steers were firm to cheaper on the back of increased yardings. Lightweight C2’s to restockers were firm ranging from 192¢ to 231¢/kg. Medium weights back to the paddock eased slightly while those to processors fell 14¢ to average 191¢/kg. Prices for vealer heifers were also back on last week, medium weights to slaughter were 2¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper. Yearlings were generally dearer than the previous week. Lotfeeders paid between 166¢ and 202¢ for lightweights to lift 7¢/kg. Trade and heavyweights to feed were 3¢ to 4¢ dearer with the medium weights selling between 160¢ and 203¢ to average 188.5¢/kg. Competition between feeders and processors for yearling heifers saw them also finish dearer. Medium weights to slaughter were 4¢ dearer averaging 179¢/kg. Heavyweights going the same way sold from 159¢ to 185¢ to be 3¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers were mostly purchased by feeders at 2¢ dearer, those to process made 145¢ to 186¢ to be 4¢/kg stronger. Heavyweights to slaughter were up 4¢ averaging around 177¢/kg. Cows were firm to 2¢/kg dearer across all grades. Heavyweight D4’s made from 126¢ to 156¢ to average 144¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Increased numbers

Cattle producers should be satisfied with the heavy rain that fell in most regions apart from the South East. This will give pastures a chance to germinate, and with any more autumn rains a decent start to their season. However, this may be tempered by the better prices being paid, particulalrly in the South East where there has been strong SA, NSW and Victorian domestic and export competition for all categories. With the heavy northern rains leaving creeks and rivers swollen it could be three months before large numbers in those regions start to materialise.

With no sale at the SA LE due to the long weekend, Naracoorte kick-started the week with a larger yarding that contained mixed quality runs of young cattle, larger numbers of grown steers with a few pens having been HGP treated and originating from the northern reaches; while cows sold to very strong processor competition. However, it was a strange sale that started off with some being cheaper due to the varying quality, before racing ahead at full steam as most categories finished selling at dearer levels.

Mt. Gambier’s original draw was for 3,300 cattle with around 2,790 actually offered in mixed quality runs, with many grown steers not being properly finished. However, the solid competition provided by the regular local and interstate export and domestic buyers generally led to most categories selling at dearer levels.

Millicent also had a larger yarding and once again featured many of the regions bean finished young cattle.

Prices generally dearer

Vealers steers to the trade sold from 186c to 215c for the B muscled, and 172c to 220c for the C muscled at rates 3c to 11c/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers from 178c to 193c or 3c to 9c/kg more. Vealer heifer sales were 2c to 6c dearer with isolated sales higher, as most B and C muscled heifers sold from 169c to 213c/kg to the trade. Yearling steer C3 sales were 8c dearer selling from 175c to 192c, with feeders and restockers sourcing C2 steers from 160c to 175c/kg. Yearling heifers were 2c to 6c dearer with C3 sales 162c to 186c, and D3 sales 132c to 164c/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks were 4c to 10c dearer with C3 to C5 sales 172c to 190c, and mainly in a 320c to 349c/kg cwt price range. Grown heifers were keenly sourced as most sold from 144c to 173c or 1c to 18c/kg dearer. Most D2 to C5 cows sold from 116c to 159c at rates 5c to 11c dearer, with carcase weights in a 280c to 310c/kg price range. Dairy D2 to D4 sales were from 114c to 140c at around 290c/kg cwt average.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Wet weather hampers supply

The supply to markets early in the week was hampered by wet weather restricting the movement of stock to near local areas only, with predominantly trade cattle being penned. Useful falls of rain in the supply area at Warwick also reduced numbers and overall across the state at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS supply fell 33 per cent.

The big wet across the Maranoa has caused major disruptions to the selling program at Roma where a combination of weather conditions and road restrictions resulted in both store and prime sales being once again postponed. However by midweek a returned to sunshine and some places becoming dry enough to shift stock numbers lifted at Dalby.

Values for lightweight lines of restocker grades improved the most with calves lifting in price by around 30¢/kg. Slaughter grades of yearlings also experienced price improvements of 5¢ to 10¢/kg. The smaller samples of yearling feeders also allowed average prices to improve by 3¢ to 4¢/kg.

Export grades of heavy steers, bullocks and cows met firm demand at the commencement of the week. Nevertheless by midweek steers and bullocks improved 6¢ to 7¢, while cows lifted around 3¢/kg.

Good rains across virtually all growing areas have hampered efforts to harvest sorghum resulting in both supply and quality issues. There is much talk about sprouting in crops that are due to be harvested, and exactly where the sprouted grain will fit in the market is not yet known. The rain has also boosted yield prospects for later sorghum crops.

Dearer trend

Calves to the trade averaged 15¢ better at 191¢, while those returning to the paddock improved 30¢ to average close to 229¢ with a few pen lots reaching 249.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to restocker's averaged 209¢ and sold to 227.2¢, and a few to local butchers reached 213.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers experienced a lift of 16¢ dearer at 188¢ and butchers paid to 211.2¢ for top end quality lines. Lightweight yearling steers to restocker's made to 220¢ to average 202¢, and medium weight feeders averaged 191¢ and heavyweights 186¢ with both topping at 199.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restocker's averaged 5¢ dearer at 185¢, while medium weight feeders mostly sold around 180¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade improved 9¢ to average 184¢ a few sales to 197.2¢/kg. A couple of very heavy B muscle yearling heifers sold to butchers at 201.2¢ to return $1,217/head.

Heavy steers to export slaughter across all markets averaged 5¢ dearer at 183¢ and sold to 193.2¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 4¢ better at 185¢ with a few sales to 191.2¢/kg. A small selection of full mouth bullocks made to 179.6¢/kg. Most of the cows were 3 and 4 score classes and medium weight 3 scores averaged 134¢/kg. A fair sample of good heavy cows made from 140¢ to 158¢ to average 147¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Rain and calf sales affect supply

Due to the mountain calf sales, a long weekend and substantial rain across the majority of the supply areas the number of cattle yarded at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards dropped 31 per cent. The only exception was Leongatha, where supply showed a slight increase. The quality across all yards was fair to good with the odd pen of plain cattle yarded.

While there has been a decrease in numbers, there has also been a lack of supply in Queensland and NSW. This is due to recent heavy rains and flooding around Roma, Charleville and the boarder areas of the Riverina which has kept demand fairly strong and also helped keep prices firm to slightly dearer across the eastern states. The EYCI at the completion of Thursday’s markets was 350¢, which was up 5.50¢ on the same time last week and up 66.75¢/kg cwt on the low point in the middle of December 2009.

The mountain calf sales have been on for the past three days in Omeo, Ensay, and Benambra. The initially poor season has translated into the majority of the cattle being in mixed condition with the yarding at Benambra mostly consisting of Herefords in forward store to prime cattle. The yarding at Omeo was generally in store condition as well, but the exceptional seasonal conditions across most of Eastern Australia have added to restocker and feeder competition and this was reflected in high prices. At Ensay the cattle were mainly Hereford and Hereford cross cattle, with the majority of the cattle being sourced by NSW and Queensland buyers.

Prices dearer

The C2 medium weight vealer steers to restockers sold to a dearer trend up 35¢ to 224.6¢, while the B2 steers to processors averaged 205.2¢/kg. The C3 heavyweight steers to processors sold to a top price of 215¢, up 1¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers to processors made 200¢, whilst the medium weight B2s made 212¢to average 5¢/kg dearer. Medium weight C3 to processors sold to 205¢ to average¢185.8, with heavyweight C3s also reached 205¢/kg.

Yearling steers to restockers sold to a dearer trend up 5¢, to sell around 214¢, while the medium weight C3s to processors eased 3¢ to average 176¢/kg. The C3 yearling steers to feeders sold to a top price of 188¢, while the C3’s to processors reached 199¢/kg. Yearling heifer C2’s to feeders sold around 185¢ up 18¢ with C3 to the processors made to 208¢ to average 174¢/kg.

The C3 grown steers to feeders averaged 165¢ after selling to a top price of 168¢, while the heavyweight C3s made 183¢, averaging 175.5¢/kg. Bullocks sold to a dearer trend of 4¢ and made to 187¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows followed the same trend as the majority of the grown cattle and gained 4¢ to average137¢, while heavyweight D4s made to 159¢ to average 150¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Eastern states demand remains

Outside of the northern Pilbarra and Kimberley regions the vast majority of the state remained hot and dry. The drought conditions in much of the Murchison region continue to plague pastoralists with feed conditions now at critical levels. The southern Agricultural regions of the state continued to record very hot and dry conditions. Forecasts have indicated that there is the possibility of a cooler change next week with this year having now the hottest on record. The dry conditions have had an adverse affect on dam water levels and this has placed pressure on carrying capacity if some areas.

The depressed state of the beef industry in WA continues to see producers reduce their herd, which is in stark contrast to the potential rebuilding being reported across much of the eastern states. This is a result of the favourable season conditions. The solid flow of cattle out of WA and into the eastern states has continued with agents and commission buyers reporting solid feeder and restocker orders still active.

Numbers in all weekly markets in WA remained stable. The quality of cattle being offered in these sales is well below what would normally be penned at this time of year and is an indication of both selling methodology and the tight seasonal conditions experienced in the cattle growing regions of the southwest. Further evidence of this is the small supplies in physical markets of both heavy and trade weight steers and heifers, while the supplies of vealers and young store cattle remained buoyant.

Cow demand steady

Despite many predictions that vealer supplies would dry up suddenly this has yet to come to fruition with good solid supplies still available. The majority however were of light and medium weight with the majority of these having lost their bloom and presented consequently in store condition. Heavy weight categories of both steers and heifer recorded a firm and stable demand from the feeder sector. Medium and lightweight vealer store steers were also firm, while medium and lightweight heifer categories recorded solid rates rises from an increase in local, and eastern states feeder and restocker orders. The very mixed quality and small supplies of both trade weight yearling steers and heifers has made quoting difficult, but overall a similar local trade and feeder competition was recorded.

A similar situation was also evident in heavy weight steers, bullocks and grown heifers, whereby numbers were limited and quality generally lower than would be expected at this time of year. The solid cow turnoff of recent times continued with a reasonable quality and weight of local cows recorded. Processor demand continued to increase with discernable price gains realised across the majority of grades with this also the case in heavy bull sales.

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