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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

07 May 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Greater numbers

Larger numbers were yarded at the SA LE in mixed quality runs that sold to erratic competition from the usual local butcher, wholesale and processor buyers. This was mainly due to conflict between two agents and a processor over who should pay the delivery charge, with the same problem at Naracoorte still not resolved due to no response from the buyers despite receiving a letter some months ago. Hopefully the matter can be resolved and things can return to some sort of normality.

The SA LE’s yarding featured consignments of cow and calf units with prices reaching a top of $1,100/unit. There was strong processor competition for cows as a number of sales rose to what has been achieved recently in the South East.

Naracoorte’s numbers rose and generally sold to a dearer trend due to a processor resuming a full kill week after virtually not operating last week. While young cattle prices varied, export categories attracted a dearer trend as most processors vied to source supplies.

Mt. Gambier’s yarding also lifted and featured a reduced quality particularly for the young cattle that led to the usual trade and local butcher buyers struggling to source enough prime cattle. However, after a sluggish start very strong SA and Victorian processor competition lifted many sales of cows over the 150¢ liveweight mark, with carcase weight prices rising consistently over 300¢/kg.

Millicent offered a much larger yarding for its fortnightly sale.

Export categories dearer

In a strange sale week the majority of young cattle sold to erratic competition with the mixed quality not helping, while the export categories were generally dearer. Vealer steers in limited sales to wholesale and local butcher competition were from 176¢ to 221¢, with isolated sales mainly dearer while being cheaper on the rest. Feeder and restocker purchases were from 175¢ to 200¢ at basically unchanged rates. Vealer heifers to the trade on D and C muscled sales were mainly between 162¢ and 200¢, also at unchanged levels. Yearling C3 steers with some having been supplementary fed sold from 165¢ to 203¢ at slightly dearer levels, with feeder and restocker orders sourcing C2 and C3 steers from 156¢ to 200¢ at fluctuating prices. Yearling C3 and C4 heifers sold from 160¢ to 200¢ to be 3¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. However, D muscled heifers were generally cheaper selling from 140¢ to 165¢/kg.

Grown steers in small runs sold from 162¢ to 184¢ at unchanged levels, and averaged close to 330¢/kg cwt. Cow prices were mostly 3¢ to 6¢ dearer, with most 2 to 5 beef cows selling from 120¢ to 164¢ and mainly in a 270¢ to 320¢/kg cwt price range.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Yardings grow after break

Throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets increased 46% after a shortened week last week. The increase was due to the recommencement of Forbes, Tamworth and Wagga markets after a two week break. Most other saleyards experienced a fall in numbers. Casino was down by around 1,000 head with decent rainfalls in the supply area early in the week, Gunnedah, Scone and Singleton also experienced a fall in numbers. CTLX however recorded a lift in consignments of around 1,400 with cows accounting for most of the increase.

Most of the usual buyers were present across the state, a few extra were present at CTLX to help maintain and boost prices. Restockers continue to provide strong competition and their presence was noted at Casino where lightweight vealer steers finished firm to 2¢/kg dearer. Restockers accounted for the majority of vealer steer purchases while lotfeeders were active on the yearling portion. Young heifers mostly went to slaughter although restockers and feeders procured a fair percentage.

Quality was mixed tending to plain with very few prime finished cattle. The cooler nights and dry conditions are being seen in the cattle coming forward. With the first frosts of the season recorded and quality may slip further as pasture quality deteriorates.

Over the hooks rates were varied. Most rates were left unchanged, although one processor increased yearling quotes by 10¢ in an effort to attract more quality cattle. On the other hand one processor lowered rates by 2¢/kg for grown steers citing limited demand for the finished product.

Up and down prices

Quality and increased numbers were factors in a mixed price trend across the state. Lightweight vealer steers to restockers slipped 7¢ to mostly sell around 190¢, medium weights were 1¢ to 2¢ dearer to average around 195¢/kg. Lightweight heifer vealers to the trade improved 1¢ to average 175¢/kg. Medium weights back to the paddock slipped 1¢ making from 153¢ to 191¢/kg.

Yearling steers were mostly cheaper although a couple of grades to feeders managed to hold firm. Lightweight C2’s to restockers fell 4¢ for an average of 178¢/kg. Medium weights selling to processors made from 161¢ to 197¢ to be 6¢ cheaper. Heavyweights to slaughter remained steady around the 180¢/kg mark. The heifer portion was also mixed, lightweights to feed improved 4¢, while medium weight C3’s were 6¢/kg cheaper. Heavyweight to slaughter made from 157¢ to 191¢/kg.

Heavyweight grown steers were keenly sought after and subsequently gained 5¢ to average 178¢/kg. Bullocks followed a similar trend to be 10¢ dearer at 174¢/kg. Cows for export slaughter mostly sold to similar rates, although heavyweight D4’s improved 10¢ to mostly sell around 145¢/kg. Medium weight D2 to restockers gained 7¢ to average 125¢/kg.

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Mixed quality

Numbers increased across most markets reported by MLA’s NLRS with total throughput climbed 31 per cent. This was predominately due to the return of Monday’s markets following the public holiday last week. The onset of cooler weather has also been a factor behind producers looking to offload before too many frost settle. The change to weather is noticeable in the quality offered. Around 38 per cent of the total yarding were young cattle. This included a fair run of finished lines, which in some cases had been supplementary fed, however there was an increase of plainer, secondary lots suitable to feeders and restockers.

The quality of the grown cattle was also varied. Grown steers and bullocks accounted for 27 per cent of the grown cattle. Heavy steers and bullocks were in the largest numbers as lightweights were non-existent. Cows were by far the largest category penned representing 32 per cent of the total cattle and over half of the grown cattle offered.

As a result of the greater numbers and the mixed quality prices too have been mixed. The vealer indicator improved 3¢ to 189.6¢ while the yearling steers eased 7¢ to 183¢/kg. This trend has also been realised across the eastern states and can be highlighted in the EYCI movement over the week. Up until Thursday, the EYCI had been relatively steady around 340¢ however after Thursday’s markets, had lifted 2¢ to 343¢/kg cwt. The decline in the value of the A$ has assisted grown cattle and in particular cows with the cow indicator lifting 10¢ to 140¢/kg. Some good quality heavy cows were offered as both beef and dairy lines sold over 150¢kg.

Mixed prices

Well muscled and finished vealer steers topped at 229¢ as all the B muscles mostly ranged from 204¢ to 212¢/kg. The good C muscle vealer steers made generally around 193¢/kg. Most of the vealer heifers to slaughter ranged from 180¢ to 188¢/kg with mainly heavy weights offered. Vealer heifers reached 225¢ as other B muscles sold from 200¢ to 205¢/kg. Feeders were active on the yearling steers paying around 175¢/kg for medium and heavy weights. Medium weights to slaughter were cheaper as the heavy C3s also eased to average 181¢/kg. The better heavy yearling heifers to slaughter sold around 170¢ with the plainer lines making closer to 168¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers to processors averaged 174c as the heavy weights gained 4¢ to sell closer to 183¢/kg. The few heavy C4 steers averaged almost 180¢ as bullocks held firm at 180¢/kg. Heavy dairy manufacturing steers sold around 153¢/kg. Light dairy cows eased slightly to 98¢ with the medium weights following a similar trend to average 117¢kg. Good beef cows though were firm to 2¢ dearer as the heavy beef cows lifted 3¢ to almost 150¢/kg. The leaner heavy dairy cows averaged 128¢ with the better lines selling around 134¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A small fall in supply

Another short trading week resulted in supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS to fall 12 per cent, however still remained relatively high. Longreach recorded a small lift in numbers while supply at most other centres eased back by a few hundred head. The larger selling centres reported a wide variation in quality and this trend is likely to continue as frosty conditions in the south become more frequent.

Values for young cattle varied in places with calves to both the trade and restocker's generally selling to a strong enquiry. Vealer steers returning to the paddock lost ground in value, however some large samples of well bred lines were able to keep average prices within 5¢/kg of the previous weeks level. Yearling steers and heifers to feed across all centres tended to meet a softer market, nevertheless some large lines of well bred grades of yearling steers at Dalby experienced solid demand. The ample supplies of yearling heifers to feed could not maintain previous weeks levels with losses of 3¢ to 4¢/kg fairly common. Without all the usual processors buyers being present in some markets light and medium weight yearling heifers to slaughter met limited competition.

Export grades of heavy steers and bullocks went against this trend commencing the week with small improvements of 1¢ to 3¢/kg. However extra processor demand by midweek assisted values to lift by 4¢ to 5¢/kg. Cows experienced a similar trend commencing the week with small gains of 1¢ to 2¢ and by midweek a slide fall in the A$ helped lift prices by 4¢ to 5¢/kg on top of the previous weeks improvements.

Export grades continue to improve

Calves to restocker's averaged 194¢ and sold to 223¢, while trade descriptions mostly sold close to 170¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock averaged 5¢ less at 198¢ with some sales to 219.2¢/kg. A large supply of vealer heifers sold to the trade at 172¢, and restocker grades averaged 178¢, while feeder descriptions mostly sold around 184¢/kg. Most of the yearling steers sold to restocker's with the largest sample of medium weights averaging 191¢ with sales to 214¢/kg. Most of the feeder grades of yearling steers sold in the 180¢/kg range with only lightweights making over 200¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 4¢ cheaper at 168¢ with sales to 176.6¢/kg. Trade descriptions eased by 6¢ to average 161¢ with only occasional sales to 182¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter across all markets averaged 1¢ dearer at 168¢ with sales to 178¢/kg. A fair sample of good heavy bullocks averaged 170¢ and sold to 182.6¢/kg. Lightweight score1 cows mostly sold around 90¢/kg. A large sample of medium weight 3 score cows averaged 1¢ dearer at 126¢/kg. An equally large supply of good heavy cows lifted 4¢ to average 140¢ the occasional pen reaching 155¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Long dry continues

The dry conditions remain in the north of the state, particularly throughout much of the Pilbara, Murchison and Gascoyne regions. This has had a negative impact on the quality of cattle out these areas with live exporters and agents both commenting on this. The Kimberley also continues to have a below average wet season. Conditions in the southern agricultural districts remain a headache for producers with the vast majority of the earlier strong germination now all but gone with only areas on the south coast remaining green. Forecasts for rainfall and a break to the winter look bleak for at least the next couple of weeks with predictions now looking at the end of the month.

The dry conditions continue to maintain supplementary feeding and also to pressure producers to off load surplus stock. Further to this the recent spike in the WA cattle market has added to the solid turnoff of local cattle. The new Muchea selling complex saw fair numbers offered, but it must be remembered that the controlling body has capped total sales numbers at this market for the first few weeks.

The Great Southern sale was large and the biggest to be offered. Agents continue to comment that pastoral supplies will increase sharply in the next couple of weeks and many restockers in the south are looking to capitalise on the expected larger supplies of store grades from the these areas. As has been the recent case the supplies of prime steers and heifer remained tight, irrespective of weight with young store grades dominating yardings.

Live export demand for stores

Vealer supplies were all but non-existent and all categories enjoyed solid trade and restocker competition. There were fair supplies of certified grain fed yearlings penned. Trade competition was slightly higher but overall market conditions for both steers and heifers were maintained with any changes being marginal. Grass finished trade weight steers and heifers remained of mixed quality. The recent strong demand from the feeder sector on these cattle continued on expectation of shorter supplies of heavier cattle across the winter and a subsequent increase in processor demand. Feeders purchased the majority of both steers and heifers at rates in line with recent weeks. The very strong supplies of store yearlings failed to deter demand. Light and medium weight store steers recorded continued strong demand from the live export sector and this saw these grades realised dearer rates with most up by 5c/kg. Store heifers were also dearer to both feeders and restockers, particularly lighter grades which have been over looked in recent times.

The strong processor competition recorded in recent weeks for heavy weight export grades was maintained with the majority remaining, irrespective of weight or sex.

TheCattleSite News Desk


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