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

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Rainfall needed

The dry conditions in the north continued to plague pastoralists. The continued poor conditions has placed enormous pressure upon carrying capacity in many of these regions to the point where some are suggesting many cattle are now too poor in condition to cart from these areas. Unfortunately for these areas forecasts give very little hope at this stage for relief from rainfall.

Further south in the Agricultural regions rainfall has also been sparse with only limited falls recorded in far south coastal regions. For many producers who had enjoyed strong germinations following on from the thunderstorm activity of several months their green feed has now predominately died. Supplementary feeding in the Agricultural districts remains a daily chore with the majority of calving activity having now already taken place.

This week saw the closure of the Midland saleyard complex with the new Muchea facility having its first sales next week. Cattle numbers were only slightly lower than the previous week with both yards having healthy supplies penned. Having said this there was a slight constriction in supplies with the cancellation of the southwest’s sale as is usual after a public holiday Monday. Locally bred cattle numbers were healthy and accounted for the majority of sales with only limited volumes of pastoral cattle available. There were slightly larger supplies of heavy steers available, but quality remained only fair with most just short of prime condition. Trade weight yearling supplies were negligible, while young store grades were again the largest classes to sell in physical sales.

Dearer prices

Vealer supplies were very limited with the majority continuing to be lightweights. The demand from local trade and retailer maintained recent rates for these. The supplies of prime grass finished trade weight yearling steers were negligible and the quality of these remained very mixed. The market for these grades however spiked quite sharply due to an increase in live export competition and demand. Grass finished yearling heifer quality was also mixed and similar to steer grades. Prime drafts recorded an increase in local trade competition, while there was a solid distinction between these and plainer quality and conditioned drafts which generally sold to the restocker and feeder sectors. The store market jumped sharply also with an increase in live export feeder and restocker competition with most sales up by 5¢ to 8¢/kg.

The increased volumes of heavy weight steers were found predominately at the Great Southern sale. Condition scores were just short of prime levels but despite this there was an increase in processor demand that lifted prices. The cow market rose across the classes due to an increase in local and export processor demand, while plainer grades benefited from feeder demand.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Public holiday lowers supply

With no sales at Tamworth, Forbes and Wagga due to the ANZAC day public holiday yardings at MLA’s NLRS reported markets fell by around 10,000 head compared to last week. Singleton was the only market to record an increase in throughput with more finished yearlings available this week. CTLX experienced the largest fall, with supply down by 42 per cent after a record weaner sale last Friday where close to 10,000 young cattle were offered.

The condition of cattle presented remains mixed, the breed quality of many lines is excellent although they lack the finish at this stage to be suitable for slaughter. A highlight of the Armidale sale was a run of 560 store conditioned yearling heifers which sold to restockers and feeders for around 168¢/kg. The majority of vealer steers are heading back to the paddock to be fattened and returned back to market later in the year. Lot feeders have accounted for the majority of yearlings and around 35 per cent of grown steers.

The southern and central regions of the state received between 10 and 30mm of rain over the weekend and this will provide a kick to pasture and crops before the weather really begins to cool down. In the north of the state some areas could use some moisture to freshen feed and allow cattle to put on some condition to carry through winter.

The reduction in supply did not help prices with most weights and grades struggling to maintain last week’s levels. Vealers experienced the largest falls, slipping up to 8¢/kg.

Lower prices

Despite few cattle offered most markets experienced a cheaper trend with quality playing a factor in some cases. Lightweight vealer steers to restockers lost between 4¢ and 8¢ averaging from 186¢ to 197¢/kg. Medium weights back to the paddock were 2¢ cheaper with most selling around 194¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to the trade lost 3¢ making from 150¢ to 188¢/kg. Feeders and restockers paid 1¢ to 4¢ less at 175¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling steers to restockers remained firm reaching 195¢ to most sell around 182¢/kg. Similar lots selling to lot feeders lost 1¢ averaging 186¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders slipped 2¢ averaging 180¢/kg. Heavyweight yearling steers to processors made from 135¢ to 201¢ to average 180¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 167¢ to finish 3¢/kg cheaper. Medium weights going the same way mostly sold around 165¢ and heavyweights to slaughter gained 3¢averaging 171¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers slipped 3¢ to make from 125¢ to 182¢ and mostly make 168¢, the heavyweight portion gained 1¢ to average 173¢/kg. Cow prices also fell this week, Medium weight D2’s were down 3¢ to 118¢/kg. Heavyweight D3 and D4 cows sold around 135¢ to be 1¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Cows dominate

Just over 35% of the cattle offered at sales reported by MLA’s NLRS were cows; however, this was up from 30% the previous week. Total supply was reduced 55 per cent due to the ANZAC public holiday on Monday meaning no Ballarat or Pakenham sales, most of the other sales also had reduced yardings with Leongatha recording a 40% reduction. The reduction to supply created stronger demand with most cows 2¢ to 6¢/kg dearer as processors bid to secure manufacturing beef for export markets.

However, easing prices were realised for vealers with the cooler season affecting quality. On the other hand there was a fair selection of good quality yearlings available. The decline in vealer prices was offset somewhat by yearling prices improving but across the eastern states the EYCI lost 1.5¢/kg cwt on last week. The EYCI was 341¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday’s markets.

The supply of grown steers and bullocks was also smaller, and this sparked stronger competition. Prices were dearer for the finished lines of between 2¢ and 5¢/kg, while the plainer quality lines lifted in some cases by around 9¢/kg.

Even though there was one working day out for processors demand was still very strong for cows, as both the boxed beef trade, and the US grinding beef market were strong. Over the course of the week, the A$ averaged almost unchanged, despite some recent spikes. As the need for 90CL grinding beef has lifted, the lean cows were highly sought after. The carcase weight price average for all cows was 287¢/kg.

Varied prices

The top of the B muscle vealers reached 224.5¢ at Warrnambool, while most made between 190¢ and 215¢/kg. Strong competition between trade buyers, feedlots and restockers resulted in a number of C muscle vealers make from 165¢ to 200¢/kg. There was ongoing demand for lightweight vealers which set some of the higher prices. Supplementary feeding resulted in the top of the yearlings make to 212¢, but there were plenty of quality grass finished steers making from 172¢ to 195¢/kg. Supplementary fed yearling heifers made between 162¢ and 185¢/kg.

Just over 1,000 grown steers and bullocks were offered with the C muscle steers ranging from 164¢ to 193¢, and 170¢ to 186¢/kg for bullocks. As cow prices rose, so did grown heifers. Good quality heifers made from 162¢ to 180¢ with those of plainer shape ranged from 125¢ to 171¢/kg. The quality of the cows overall was very mixed, and was evenly split between good quality and plainer lines. The better quality cows made from 135¢ to 160¢, and others were mostly between 90¢ and 138¢/kg. Quite a number of bulls were offered, despite overall smaller yardings. The top of the bulls made to 180¢ with most heavy weights selling from 135¢ to 175¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Smaller yardings

With only the South East markets operating due to Monday’s ANZAC day holiday, there were smaller numbers yarded. Naracoorte had a slightly reduced yarding of mixed quality runs that generally sold to the trade and processor buyers at mainly lower prices. This was due to most of the regular orders being available but not all of the regular buyers being present as a couple of them operated for the missing buyers. There were also one or two operating on a limited basis that was another reason for the retreating prices. Feeder and restocker orders provided solid inquiry for vealer and yearling steers and heifers. There are also around 1,200 cattle reserved for Naracoorte’s store sale on Thursday.

With the South East receiving more rain over the past week is a good enough reason for many to hold onto stock a little longer as the countryside greens up. Naracoorte’s yarding featured a large percentage of cows that tended to sell at lower levels, with a South East operator prominent. A lack of restocker activity for plain quality 1 and 2 score cows also had an affect on those prices, although a Warrnambool order picked up the slack for those cows.

Mt. Gambier’s numbers dropped substantially and featured mixed quality runs that sold at fluctuating prices to the usual buying contingent that lacked any NSW input. Feeder and restocker orders were active on a mixture of vealers, yearlings and grown steers, while not showing that much interest for plain quality cows. Millicent’s market is now in its fortnightly mode.

Mixed price trend

Vealer steers in limited numbers to the trade and local butchers sold from 175¢ to 190c¢, with a lightweight single at 214¢/kg at generally lower levels. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers from 175¢ to 196¢ with lightweights 1¢ cheaper and the heavier steers 3¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade sold mainly between 168¢ and 210¢ to be 2¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper. Feeder purchases of C2 heifers were from 170¢ to 184¢, or 2¢/kg less. Yearling steers with some having been supplementary fed sold from 172¢ to 196¢ at basically unchanged rates, with feeders and restockers paying from 165¢ to 190¢/kg for the C2 steers. The C3 yearling heifers attracted solid competition selling from 168¢ to 194¢ to be 1¢ to 4¢ dearer, with D3 sales basically unchanged from 144¢ to 168¢/kg.

Grown steers were mainly 1¢ to 2¢ cheaper with C3 and C4 sales 165¢ to 185¢/kg, and averaging close to 330¢/kg cwt. Plain light and medium weight 1 and 2 score cows were up to 11¢ cheaper selling from 100¢ to 122¢, with the 3 to 5 scores 135¢ to 160¢/kg or a couple of cents either side of unchanged, and mostly 265¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A fall in supply

The supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell 17 per cent. The absence of the Toowoomba markets due to the Anzac Day public holiday, plus the decline in supply at various selling centres attributed to the drop in numbers. However Roma went against this trend with total supply hovering around the previous weeks level, with a large line of weaner steers from central QLD included in the line-up.

Despite the relatively good seasonal conditions in most districts the overall standard of the young cattle is starting to decline. This trend was most noticeable in the South, where the cool weather has now commenced with reports of frosts on the ground on a couple of occasions. The trend of decline in the quality of export slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks was also noticeable at Dalby where the overall standard was not up to the previous weeks level. Nevertheless across most markets the quality of the cows penned was generally good with the vast majority in the 3 and 4 fat score ranges.

Values for young cattle tended to struggle at times especially the female portion, however quality lines in the steer section still attracted strong buyer support. A large sample of yearling steers returning to the paddock generally managed to maintain recent values while most feeder descriptions experienced small losses of 1¢ to 3¢/kg. Values for grown steers and bullocks remained close to firm following the large losses experienced the previous week. Prices achieved for cows was also firm to 1¢ to 2¢/kg better against the decline in values in recent weeks.

Young female cattle cheaper

Calves to the trade lost 7¢ to average 169¢, while the heifer portion returning to the paddock reduced average prices by 15¢ to 187¢, however steer calves purchased by restocker's still managed to reach 219.2¢/kg. A large sample of vealer steers returned to the paddock at 203¢ and sold to 221.2¢, while feeder descriptions mostly sold around 195¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade lost 5¢ to average 172¢, while feeder and restocker lines mostly sold 1¢ to 2¢ cheaper to average in the high 170¢/kg range. The large sample of 1,570 lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 214.6¢ and sold to 223¢/kg. Light medium and heavy yearling steers to feed continued to sell in the 180¢/kg range with some lightweights to 198.2¢/kg. A good supply of light and medium weight yearling heifers sold to restocker's in the early to high 180¢/kg range with some well bred lines to 199¢/kg. Feeder descriptions mostly sold close to 170¢ while a few certified grainfed's to the trade reached 187.2¢/kg.

Bullocks sold from 161¢ to 177.2¢ with a fair sample around 170¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 115¢, and 3 scores improved 2¢ to average 125¢/kg. Good heavy cows were in the largest numbers and averaged 1¢ dearer at 136¢ with a pen of heifers and cows mixed reaching 146.6¢/kg.

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