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 6 April 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Easter effects supply

All Victorian markets were reduced, with those closest to the Easter break most affected. This is highlighted by Leongatha which offered a yarding that was only 10 per cent of the previous week. There are also no sales to be held on Thursday, Friday or next Monday, meaning a fortnights break at some centres. As processors struggle to manage a consistent work load at this time of year, some were absent from sales on Wednesday.

However, with all the disruption to supply, and the weaker competition at times, prices ranged from 6¢ cheaper to 10¢/kg dearer. Strong competition from feedlots and restockers for young cattle influenced most of the higher prices, while export processors were active on cows, which lifted prices for most grades.

Cattle quality was very mixed as the cooler autumn mornings affect condition, but there were still plenty of good quality cattle yarded. The excellent quality of some vealers and supplementary fed yearlings aided some higher prices, but more competition for cattle to turn out saw good rises for some of the plainer condition steers and heifers.

Any influence on cheaper prices was caused by weaker demand at markets at Wodonga and Shepparton for grown steer and bullocks, as the demand from NSW and Queensland orders wanes. Despite export cattle prices slipping, the prices achieved at these two markets only came back in line with those paid at southern markets.

Due to the limited numbers offered at physical markets numerous processors were seeking cattle from paddock sales for the first days kill after Easter.

Cheaper price trend

The strongest competition was recorded for the very good quality vealers. The top price achieved was 236.2¢, but there were many sales over 200¢/kg. Buyers purchasing for Melbourne butcher shops were particularly keen. What set the good rates for other vealers, and some of the yearling cattle, was interaction between trade buyers, feedlots and restockers. There were many sales of C muscle cattle between 170¢ and 195¢ with lightweight vealers making to 215¢/kg. Supplementary fed cattle sold well with B muscle lots making to 220¢, and some others from 178¢ to 200¢/kg. As supply was weaker, heifers came under more pressure, and this saw a lot of sales between 155¢ and 185¢/kg.

Strong demand for 0 to 2 teeth grown steers resulted in the top of the heavy weights reaching 198¢ as most sales were between 178¢ and 190¢/kg. Even though prime bullock prices were cheaper in the north, the C3 and C4s made from 172¢ to 184¢/kg. Good quality beef cows made from 138¢ to 158¢, which was up to 6¢ dearer, as the lean 1 scores sold from 100¢ to 132¢/kg. The carcase weight price for cows was close to 285¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A fall in supply

The short working week had an impact on supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS resulting in numbers reducing 18 per cent. Markets early in the week experienced very little change in supply however a combined store and prime sale at Roma saw a substantial increase in supply to record the largest sale for the year. Nevertheless by Wednesday the short week impacted on supply with numbers at Dalby falling 52 per cent.

With the opening of more roads for transport cattle at Roma were drawn from across a wide area of western Queensland. A fair panel of export buyers were present at most markets however at some not all were operating. A different trend developed from feeder operators with all the major feeder buyers particularly active in the market. A large panel of restocker buyers were present at most markets and competition was strong. Nevertheless buyers are becoming more selective and some of the lesser quality lines tended to lose ground by a few cents. Restocker's purchased the vast majority of the calves, vealer steers and light weight yearling steers and heifers, while feeder operators were the major buyers on the medium and heavyweight lines of yearlings. Values for most of the young cattle including restocker feeder and slaughter grades hovered around previous weeks levels.

Export slaughter lines of heavy steers and bullocks followed the downward trend set the previous week, and across all markets bullocks averaged 7¢/kg cheaper. Cows also suffered price reductions with medium weight 2 score grades slipping around 5¢ as the 3 and 4 score medium and heavyweights averaged 6¢/kg cheaper.

Export grades cheaper

Calves to restocker's made to 214¢ with a good sample averaging 197¢ and trade descriptions averaged 179¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock made to a top of 228.2¢ with most around 209¢/kg. A large sample of vealer heifers sold to feeder operators and restockers in the early 180¢/kg range while a selected few sold to local butchers at 208.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers sold to restocker's at a top of 220¢ with a large sample at 202¢/kg. Lightweight feeder lines averaged 194¢ while a large sample of medium weights averaged 190¢, with a few B muscle lines to 206.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers purchased by restocker's averaged in the early 180¢/kg range. Despite a very large supply of medium weight lines to feed values experienced very little change at 177¢ with sales to 186¢/kg. A small sample of local trade lines averaged 174¢ and sold to 197¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers destined for export slaughter made to 186.2¢ to average close to 180¢/kg. Bullocks made from 156.2¢ to 179.2¢ with a fair sample 7¢ less at 166¢/kg. Full mouth manufacturing steers made from 150¢ to 164.2¢ with most around 157¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 5¢ cheaper at 113¢ and 3 scores lost 6¢ with most around 123¢/kg. Good heavy cows also averaged 6¢ easier at 134¢ with a very occasional sale to 151.6¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Pre-Easter supply well down

Supply at MLA’s NLRS reported markets fell 50 per cent week-on-week with the shortened week due to the Good Friday holiday. Armidale, Dubbo and Singleton sales were cancelled and most other markets experienced large falls. Following three weeks of record yardings Casino numbers fell 65 per cent, Gunnedah dropped 42 per cent and Scone 38 per cent. At Tamworth and Wagga numbers remained relatively steady as there will be no sale next week.

Demand varied across the state with some buyers not attending or not operating at full capacity at Forbes and Tamworth. While at Scone there was extra competition from a few local restockers.

The supply of heavy grown steers was very limited with young cattle dominating the majority of yardings. Lotfeeders in the north of the state continue to pursue suitable cattle, they accounted for most yearling purchases. Cows continue to be well supplied with a larger percentage going back to the paddock compared to last week, the biggest increase being at CTLX.

Quality remains mixed with some good lines of young cattle suitable to the trade and some plainer runs suitable to finish. There were some excellent runs of yearling steers penned at CTLX selling to feeders. At Scone well finished yearlings were scarce although there was some well bred lines best suited to restockers. At Casino vealers going back to the paddock were heavily sought after which resulted in a dearer trend of 5¢ to 16¢/kg.

OTH rates fell as more cattle come forward out of Queensland. Processors dropped rates due to supply pressures easing slightly and a shortened kill week.

Mixed prices

Despite a fall in numbers, prices for some grades of cattle struggled to hold firm while other categories experienced a dearer trend. Light vealer steers to restockers fell 2¢ to make from 181¢ to 239¢ and average 204¢/kg. While medium weights going the same way lost 4¢ to 5¢/kg. The heifer portion on the other hand experienced a rise in average prices. Lightweights to the trade were 6¢ dearer making between 160¢ and 197¢/kg. Medium weights back to the paddock and slaughter were 3¢ up averaging around 186¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 192¢ while those to restock sold for 188¢, both 1¢/kg dearer. Medium weights to feed were 3¢ to 4¢ cheaper making 160¢ to 193¢ and averaging 181¢/kg. Heavyweights to feed were also cheaper averaging 177¢, down 3¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restock were 3¢ dearer while those to feed finished 8¢ cheaper averaging 167¢/kg. Heavyweights to the trade were 7¢ cheaper topping at 181¢ to average 165¢/kg.

Grown steers prices were firm to cheaper, medium weights to feed lost 5¢ making 149¢ to 176¢/kg. Those to restockers lost 11¢ averaging 134¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter remained firm at 168¢/kg. Cows were 1¢ to 4¢ cheaper with heavyweight D3’s averaging 132¢/kg

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Much smaller numbers

Cattle numbers nosedived at the three sales held this week as the Easter holiday closes in. If numbers are not in the paddocks, it seems a strange scenario when processors need cattle to finish this week’s kill without cutting shifts. While numbers increased at the SA LE, Mt. Gambier could only offer 282 head and had some buyers quite bemused as they required numbers to keep kill chains operating. Naracoorte almost halved with a local processor a strong buyer of yearlings, grown steers and heifers and cows to make sure they keep operating at their usual pace.

Mt. Gambier’s sale featured limited numbers of trade cattle, with beef and dairy cows making up the bulk of the yarding that sold mainly at fluctuating prices when the three operating buyers could have lowered their rates on the small numbers offered.

The SA LE’s yarding featured mixed quality runs that sold to a generally easing trend from the usual trade and processor buyers. However, feeder buyers were very active and sourced mainly vealer and yearling steers at mainly dearer levels. A small number of grown steers were cheaper, with C3 sales well below South Eastern prices, while cows failed to sell for not much more than 130¢/kg.

Naracoorte attracted a generally dearer priced sale as processor and trade buyers sourced most young and export cattle, with feeder and restocker orders having to lift their rates to secure smaller numbers.

Strong demand

Despite some sales being cheaper at the SA LE, the strong demand in the South East tended to lead to generally dearer trends. Vealer steers to the trade on limited numbers sold from 180¢ to 220¢ or unchanged to 5¢/kg dearer. Feeder orders sourced C2 steers from 180¢ to 198¢ at rates 5¢ to 14¢/kg more. Vealer heifer sales were 2¢ to 15¢ cheaper selling between 165¢ and 202¢, with an isolated sale at 230¢ as they lacked last week’s spirited bidding. Yearling steers were unchanged to 2¢ dearer, with C3 sales mainly 165¢ to 200¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 and C3 steers between 160¢ and 204¢, or unchanged to 13¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer C3 sales were 2¢ to 6¢ cheaper due to the SA LE’s lower prices as most sales ranged between 150¢ and 188¢/kg.

Grown steer C3 and C4 sales were 1¢ to 6¢ dearer selling from 164¢ to 190c¢, and averaged 330¢/kg cwt statewide. Cows tended to fluctuate a few cents either side of unchanged as most D2 to C5 cows sold from 105¢ to 156¢ to processors, or 250¢ to 315¢/kg cwt. Restockers sourced D2 medium weights from 121¢ to 147¢/kg or 7¢/kg dearer.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

North remains dry

The forecast of cyclonic activity happening in the north of WA have yet to come to fruition, but many in the north remain hopeful of this system crossing the border and bringing wide spread rainfall throughout much of the state. The dry conditions continue to encourage pastoralists to muster early than would normally be the case. There was little or no rainfall recorded in the southern Ag regions, outside of limited falls in the far southwest and eastern coastal areas. Those areas that received rainfall from the severe thunderstorm activity the previous week have seen a strong germination occur over the past seven days and producers are hopeful of further follow-up moisture to sustain it. Calving activity continues strongly with a solid percentage of this year’s drop already on the ground and supplementary feeding of cattle remains a daily chore in the working schedule of producers. Market conditions have remained stable in WA with the majority of processing schedules having shown little or no change in value, given static demand and solid supply levels up to this point. Despite the dry conditions in the north the flow of pastoral cattle into Midland remains moderate at this stage although larger numbers are expected to come onto the market in the near future.

Fewer cattle were sold in physical markets due to the cancellation of the Great Southern market due to the Easter long weekend. As has been the recent case the supplies of prime heavy and trade weight cattle remained constricted with cow supplies reasonable.

Cow demand firm

The majority of vealers have now been sold and consequently the supplies of heavy weight calves have all but dried up with most now being of light and medium weight. The very strong feeder demand and increased restocker activity of the previous couple of weeks was maintained this week with a solid eastern states interest also being maintained for young and store grades of WA cattle. Consequently the market showed little or no change throughout the weight and sex classes wit stable conditions maintained. The small numbers of trade weight yearlings penned this week remained of a mixed quality. Trade demand on prime steers and heifers remained buoyant and firm on both grass and grain finished drafts. Plainer conditioned lines, irrespective of sex were again reasonably well supported by the feeder sector.

The limited supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks received an increase in trade demand, but caution must be taken given the very limited numbers quoted on. The very strong demand and competition recorded in recent weeks from the local and export processing sectors continued on heavy weight cows with rates recorded at fully firm levels. This was also the case in heavy weight bull categories with no change realised in rates.

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