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 March 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Dry in the north

The dry conditions in much of northern WA continue with little or no rainfall having fallen over the past seven days. This season has seen very little cyclone activity and this has adversely affected the rainfall prospects of these regions. The long dry conditions have also continued in the majority of the southwest agricultural areas with little or no rainfall recorded. Feed levels remain tight, particularly in areas on the far south coast where this season has seen little or no perennial growth given the dry conditions. This year’s calving is now in full swing in the south with supplementary feeding now becoming a daily chore for many producers. Saleyard numbers were relatively stable this week as both Midland and the Great Southern’s sales sold similar totals. The numbers of pastoral cattle yarded from out of the north remained limited despite reports that the dry conditions have prompted many pastoralists to begin mustering early this year. As has been the case in recent months there remained limited supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers with trade weight yearling volumes also constricted.

Cow volumes remained solid contributors at all three sales with current turnoff of cows remaining high. Young store grades have also continued their solid representation and this has aided the current very strong demand for both light and feeder weight store cattle for the eastern states. This added demand has placed pressure upon the market making local feeders and restockers compete in the market at higher levels than seen as recently as two weeks ago

Eastern demand pushes market

The dry conditions in the Great Southern have continued to influence vealer turnoff with little or no change seen in the supplies of these cattle at Mt Barker this week. The numbers of heavy weight vealers continued to remain limited with the majority of supplies being either of medium or lightweight. There was again a spike in rates due to an increase in local and eastern states feeder and restocker demand at saw heifer classes recorded the largest increases in values. Agents continue to report that there have been large numbers of cattle sold on farm direct to feeder and restocker operations in the east and this strong demand from the east must have an affect on WA’s market later on given the large volumes that have already been sold. A sharp increase in trade competition on the limited supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks this week saw rates considerably dearer.

Trade weight yearling quality remained mixed and these classes gained due to an increase in feeder competition rather than any rise in trade inquiry. The cow market saw its sharpest rise in value with rates dearer throughout the week with rates dearer by as much as 20c/kg lwt in places.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Massive lift in supply

The supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS lifted from a meagre 3400 to 18000 head. With the country dry enough in places to shift stock producers that were able to took advantage of the fine weather and lifted numbers dramatically. The spell fine of weather combined with sales at Roma returning to normal after disruptions due to flooding in the Maranoa region, and also the first sale of the year was held at Longreach following a string of postponements due to the wet conditions throughout the supply area. Overall quality was generally good with all classes well represented. Most of the usual export buyers were present at sales along with wholesalers and feeder operators plus a good representation of restocker's and a large contingent of onlookers. Restocker buyers were extremely active on the lightweight classes and lifted values accordingly. However feeder operators were the major strength in the market on medium and heavyweight yearlings and were able to absorb the larger supply plus maintain recent high prices. The larger samples of slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks could not maintain the wet weather money paid the previous week and prices eased by 5¢ to 7¢/kg.

Cow prices followed a similar trend commencing the week struggling to remain firm and as the week progressed and more numbers become available values eased by 2¢ to 5¢/kg. Consumer interest at the moment is in sprouted and weathered sorghum and is being traded on a sample basis depending on quality. With more rain predicted headers are flat out harvesting to get the current grain off the paddock and into the silo.

Export grades cheaper

Calves to restocker's continued to meet good demand and sold to 229.2¢ to average 200¢kg. A good sample of vealer steers returned to the paddock 5¢ dearer at an average of 214¢ with some pen lots reaching 231.2¢/kg. The large increase in supply of vealer heifers to the trade allowed average prices to ease by 4¢ to close to 184¢ with the occasional heavy grade selling to local butchers at 204.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restocker's generally sold around 209¢ to 212¢ with a few well bred grades reaching 228.2¢/kg. A large supply of medium weight yearling steers to feed mostly sold in the 190¢/kg range and heavy grades averaged 185¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged just under 180¢ while those returning to the paddock made to 200¢ to average 183¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed generally sold in the high 170¢ to early 180¢/kg range with a few to 188.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 190¢ to average 176¢/kg. A large selection of good heavy bullocks made to 188.2¢ and averaged 5¢ less at 181¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows sold 2¢ cheaper at 120¢ and 3 scores lost 5¢ to average just under 130¢/kg. A large number of good heavy cows lost 2¢ to average 145¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Return to full trading

Further price increases have come despite a return to a normal working week, which brought with it a rise of 30% in the supply of cattle. There have been some good to very good quality cattle offered in all classes of young and grown cattle, and this in part led to higher prices. The price increases averaged around 5c/kg across most classes of cattle. There have been five days of weaner cattle sales in East Gippsland over a two week period, and after continued very strong demand, the higher prices achieved at these sales, has seen feedlots come to prime cattle sales determined to purchase supplies at rates lower than the weaner sales. With steers averaging around 212c, and heifers around 200c/kg lwt at these sales, the higher rates at physical markets were still under the weaner sales. However, this strong interaction between processors and feedlots did create the higher prices, and lift the EYCI figure by a further 4.75c, to 354.75c/kg cwt by Thursday.

It was not only young cattle that sold very well with grown steers, bullocks and cows all receiving some price rises. Not all selling centres showed these price lifts, as some of the plainer condition cows best suiting the 90CL US market only sold at firm to slightly easing trends. While some of this is due to the higher value of the A$ against the greenback, the same cannot be said for bullocks, which sold very well at all sales, but to dearer trends in the north east of the state.

Vealers to 235c/kg

The highest price for vealers was 235c at Colac, 230c for grain fed steers at Pakenham, with yearling steers and heifers reaching 193c and 187c/kg respectively. Strong competition at Wodonga saw prime bullocks make to 190c, and grown steers made to 194c/kg. While demand has varied for cows, very strong demand for cows with high meat yields saw 3 and 4 score make between 140c and 167c with carcass weight prices averaging just over 300c/kg. However, the lean 1 and some 2 score cows mainly sold at prices that were firm to 3c easier, which kept the overall carcass weight price to 274c/kg. Prices for most of these lean cows were from 110c to 138c/kg. Dollar values were very high at times as the good season saw a number of very heavy cows sold. The highest price recorded was 155c/kg.

All of that strong interaction between feedlots and processors saw some very good prices paid. Buyers for feedlots mainly paid from 168c to 195c, but private feeding operators paid up to 210c/kg. The top price was paid for 64 Charolais steer calves weighing 350kg lwt at Pakenham. Bulls sold well with top quality heavy bulls making to 183c/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Numbers come out

State-wide numbers lifted by a third from last week with a few weeks of wet weather withholding stock and building up available numbers. With transportation not a concern and prices at reasonable levels for this time of the year, yardings at most centres increased on last week. Barring a very large sale week at the beginning of December when widespread dry conditions were prevalent, it was the largest turnoff of cattle in NSW over the past three years at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards. The only centre where numbers were lower than last week was Casino, however there was still in excess of 3,000 head offered. These were the largest two yardings in two years at Casino with plentiful numbers of young cattle, which were predominantly vealers. Armidale, Inverell and Gunnedah also had substantial rises, with producers now having stock in good condition and at the right weights to take the money being offered. There were quite a few consignments from western areas at Gunnedah, which is not surprising given the season producers are having in the Darling and far North West. Stock quality at all northern inland markets has begun to become mixed, no doubt showing signs of autumn. At Scone the makeup of the yarding shifted towards more heavy steers and bullocks, with the renowned lower Hunter grass finished and grain supplemented lines entering the market.

At Dubbo, a fair percentage of yearlings came forward alongside increased numbers of vealers. Lotfeeder orders were on hand to purchase the excess numbers. Wagga presented a mixed quality penning with more weaners available.

Prices mixed

Prices showed the first signs of coming under pressure from increased supply; however the lack on numbers in Queensland is still benefiting competition in northern NSW and consequently the remainder of the state. Over-the-hooks prices at the beginning of the week were set at higher levels across most grades indicating processors were still in the hunt for more numbers than were coming forward, however by weeks end there appeared to be ample numbers coming out of the wood-works.

Restockers purchased vealer steers for similar rates of 190¢ to 211¢/kg. Slaughter grades of vealer steers made mainly from 192¢ to 203¢, which was 2¢ to 7¢/kg higher.

Medium weight C muscled yearling steers were firm to 3¢/kg dearer to all buying sectors, with restockers, lotfeeders and processors all paying around the 190¢/kg mark. Similar grades of yearling heifers averaged just under 180¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were close to last weeks levels. Medium and heavy weight grown steers along with bullocks all made around the 175¢ to 179¢, with a top price of 192.2¢/kg. Medium cows lost a few cents to average 116¢ to 132¢ and heavy cows averaged 139¢ and reached 143¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Higher yardings

The better prices being paid recently has only led to very mixed quality yarding being offered, with the SA LE resuming after a week off with a slightly larger mixed quality yarding of 843 head greeting the usual trade and processor buyers, with feeder and restocker orders also very active. Once again vealers were in short supply and sold to local butchers and wholesalers, with most light and medium weight yearling steers selling to feeder and restocker orders at dearer levels. Small numbers of grown steers weighing mainly below 600kg lwt sold to a peak of 165c/kg, while cow prices improved on a larger yarding. Naracoorte’s yarding contained 2,590 (or 273 head more) and sold to strong competition from a near full contingent of regular buyers; and with quality improving most categories were dearer, while easing marginally on others. Feeder and restocker orders were quite active with a good selection of C2 and C3 steers witnessed them providing solid competition to the trade. Supplementary fed yearlings were keenly sourced, with grown steers and cows also selling at dearer levels to processors.

Mt. Gambier’s numbers swelled to 3,256 (or 466 head more) with quality definitely slipping due to the lower South East receiving little rain and feed reserves disappearing at an alarming rate. There were over 1,200 grown steers and 900 cows offered as producers take advantage of the improved prices. However, the varying quality led to a fluctuating priced sale. Millicent’s numbers increased by 97 (to 955 head) with overall quality slipping as beans and stubble supplies start to decline.

Mixed quality, fluctuating trends

The variable quality tended to lead to fluctuating priced trend, with the improved A$ leading export categories to attract a weaker trend, with again quality and lower yields having an affect. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 180c to 223c with a single at 230c to vary from 10c dearer and 8c/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers from 170c to 206c/kg at unchanged rates. Vealer heifers were generally dearer as most sales of C3 and D3 heifers ranged between 175c and 218c/kg. Feeders sourced C2 and C3 heifers from 175c to 200c/kg. Yearling steers with many supplementary fed and bean finished sold from 165c to 211c/kg, with some sales dearer and others cheaper. Feeders and restockers paid from 130c to 188c/kg over a wide range of quality. Yearling heifers were unchanged to 6c dearer with C3 sales 155c to 204c, and D3 sales 125c to 177c/kg.

Grown steer prices were generally unchanged with C3 to C5 sales 164c to 190c/kg and generally in a 310c to 350c/kg cwt price range. Cows finished the week at mainly lower rates, with D3 to C5 sales 125c to 160c/kg and mainly in a 255c to 310c/kg cwt price range.

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