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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

14 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.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A large lift to supply

The return to a full trading week lifted the supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by close to 55 per cent. Most of the selling centres in the south of the state recorded increased numbers, and a fair supply of stock came forward at Toowoomba following the large break in the selling program due to the run of public holidays.

Overall quality in places is declining due to the onset of winter, with large supplies of feeder and restocker grades included in the selling pens. A large contingent of buyers was present at most markets and the support from the additional export processor experienced the previous week continued.

Values for calves vealers and yearlings received a mixed trend. Well bred grades received stronger demand, however buyers are becoming more selective and lesser quality lines tended to ease, with a small drop in quality resulting in a large fall in price. Solid feeder buyer competition on medium and heavyweight yearling steers and medium weight grown steers pushed prices up by 3¢ to 4¢/kg, while the yearling heifer portion remained firm to 3¢ cheaper in places.

The stronger export processor demand experienced the previous week continued and heavy steers improved in price by 6¢/kg. A fair supply of good heavy bullocks experienced a similar price improvement, and those over 750kg lwt received comparable money to the lighter weights. Despite the 45 per cent lift in the supply of cows values generally held firm to a few cents dearer following the improved rates experienced the previous week.

Grown steers dearer

Calves to restocker's generally remained firm at 194¢ with sales to 225¢ while the slaughter grades averaged 173¢ and D muscle lines 165¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers returned to the paddock around 207¢ and owing to the quality sold in a large range from 177¢ to 224.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade across all markets lost 2¢ with the largest supply averaging close to 170¢ with just a few B muscle lines reaching 209.6¢/kg. Over 1,100 lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock between 207¢ and 212¢ with a few pens reaching 226¢/kg. The good supply of medium and heavyweight yearling steers to feed mostly sold in the mid 180¢/kg range with a few to 192.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers were well supplied and those returning to the paddock averaged 181¢ to 185¢ and sold to 197¢/kg. Medium weights to feed averaged just under 170¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed lifted 4¢ to 182¢ with some to 186¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter improved 6¢ to average 174¢ and sold to 185.2¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks gained 6¢ to 175¢ with some to 183.6¢, and a handful over 750kg sold to 182.2¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 129¢, and good heavy cows averaged 138¢ with occasional sale to 157¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Numbers retreat

Numbers retreated at the SA LE which was greeted by the usual local butcher, wholesale and processor buyers, albeit with one cow buyer being absent leading to an easing trend. Feeder buyers were selective with only well bred young cattle attracting their full attention. While most categories attracted a weaker trend on last week’s improved prices, there were isolated categories that maintained or sold to a dearer trend. A large number of yearling steers sold to feeder and restocker activity at lower levels. Cow prices were generally cheaper, with only some restocker demand for D2 medium weights stopping prices from falling further.

Naracoorte’s numbers rose slightly in a much improved quality yarding that featured more supplementary feds and some magnificent bos indicus cross steers that originated from Mt. Lyndhurst. There was strong competition from both sides of the border, and such was the solid demand from a South East processor for cows that a couple of Victorian orders were left empty handed as prices rose out of their comfort zone. Feeder and restocker numbers were boosted by the return of a Ballarat and Millicent orders that had been absent for a couple of months. Most good quality young and heavy cattle categories tended to attract a dearer trend, while feeder and restocker orders lowered their rates.

Mt. Gambier’s reduced yarding of quite mixed quality that met with fluctuating fortunes from the regular buying contingent, although cows again attracted strong demand with Naracoorte and Warrnambool processor orders securing the majority.

Cows generally dearer

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 183c¢ to 220¢ at rates 5¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers from 184¢ to 198¢ or 2¢ to 7¢/kg less. Vealer heifers sold to the trade from 168¢ to 202c, with single B muscled sale at 219¢, and left sales varying from 3¢ to 4¢ cheaper and 5¢ to 11¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced a wide range of quality from 146¢ to 202¢/kg. The C3 yearling steers sold from 165¢ to 195¢ or 5¢ to 6¢ dearer, with C2 and C3 sales to feeder and restocker orders 155¢ to 189¢/kg. The C3 yearling heifers sold between 160¢ and 195¢ to be 4¢ to 8¢/kg dearer particularly for the supplementary feds.

Grown steer C3 and C4 sales were mainly between 170¢ to 188¢, with medium weights 4¢ dearer, and the heavyweights 2¢ cheaper as carcase weight prices ranged between 320¢ and 348¢/kg. While isolated sales of cows were cheaper, most were unchanged to 6¢ dearer. The beef 2 to 6 scores sold from 125¢ to 164¢, and dairy D2 to D4 sales 121¢ to 148¢/kg. This tended to leave carcase weights in a 275¢ to 320¢/kg price range.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply slips slightly

Supply at MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets fell five per cent although it remain 10 per cent higher than the corresponding week last year. Tamworth, Wagga, Inverell and Forbes experienced the largest falls. On the other hand Casino and Gunnedah were subject to larger yardings.

The fall in overall supply bought with it a generally better quality yarding than the previous couple of weeks. Winter is definitely on the way with a cold front this week bringing with it a drop in temperature and some heavy frosts in parts. This may have encouraged some producers to finally off load some of their better lines of young cattle which they had been holding onto to finish.

There were still plenty of plainer condition lots offered with restockers and feeders remaining active on these pens. Restockers purchased 75 per cent of vealer steers offered across the state while trade buyers secured 65 per cent of vealer heifers.

The number of grown steers yarded fell and processors accounted for the majority of numbers. Feeders and restockers were also active on the lighter weights but were unable to secure as many numbers as last week. Cows dominated supply although there were less numbers yarded. Export processors purchased most that were offered as they look to secure grinding beef for strengthening overseas markets.

Direct to slaughter rates lifted across most grades this week as prime cattle become harder to find. Some processors have raised rates for young cattle in a bid to attract more interest. Export grades were also up as demand for trim and manufacturing beef grows.

Prices improve

Restockers are still keen to purchase vealer steers and prices for medium weights remained similar to last week at around 195¢, lightweights sold up to 11¢ dearer making to 240¢/kg. Vealer heifers were keenly sought after by trade buyers, lightweights averaged 3¢ higher at 179¢/kg. Medium weights were firm to 2¢ dearer mostly selling from 175¢ to 184¢ and heavyweights lifted 7¢ to 188¢/kg.

Yearling steers to feeders and restockers also experienced a dearer trend. Lightweights made around 188¢ to lotfeeders 2¢ dearer than last week, the portion that went back to the paddock gained 6¢ after selling to 206¢/kg. Heavyweights to feed sold 3¢ to 6¢ dearer while those to slaughter remained firm at around 181¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restock improved 5¢ while those to feeders slipped 2¢ to make around 169¢/kg. Heavyweight yearling sold from 154¢ to 183¢ to be 2¢/kg dearer overall.

Grown cattle prices also experienced a mostly dearer trend. Medium weight grown steers were firm mostly selling from 169¢ to 173¢/kg. Heavyweight steers improved 2¢ averaging 180¢/kg. Medium weight D3’s to slaughter averaged 131¢, 2¢ more than last week, heavyweight sold firm to slightly dearer from 139¢ to 145/kg.

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Mixed quality

A slightly larger yarding was offered as supply overall increased seven per cent at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. All centres, except for Camperdown, Pakenham and Shepparton, offered slightly more numbers. When compared to the corresponding time last year supply was eight per cent higher.

Quality was varied and to be expected considering the change in the weather recently. The good early season this year was beneficial though with some good quality finished young and grown cattle scattered through some centres. There were larger numbers of better muscled cattle particularly carrying plenty of weight in the vealers. There were also some markets that had increased supplies of plainer cattle displaying wintery coats.

The regular field of buyers was generally present at all markets. Feeders and restockers continue to be active pacing a solid floor across most categories of young cattle. Restockers also purchased a few pens of cows. Processors were active on the better quality cattle, noticeable the higher yielding B muscle lots.

Young cattle were almost evenly split between vealers and yearlings. Processors secured the vast majority of the young cattle with just on 40 per cent purchased by restockers or feeders.

Grown cattle were again predominately cows. The grown steers were mostly heavy weights and bullocks with most selling to a cheaper market. Grown heifers generally sold firm as good lightweights sold mostly from 164¢ to 166¢kg. Around 43 per cent of the cows were dairy breeds with most being heavy weights and of the beef cows heavy weights also dominated.

Mixed prices

Well muscled medium weight vealer steers topped at 228.2¢ as a fair run of heavy B muscle steers sold from 203¢ to 213¢/kg. Heavy C3 vealer steers averaged 195¢ to be 2¢/kg dearer as those to feeders lifted 6¢ to 185¢/kg. Heavy C3 vealer heifers eased slightly to 185¢ as feeders lines made closer to 178¢/kg. Only a few medium weight yearling steers were purchased for slaughter as both medium and heavy weights remained firm at 183¢/kg. Both the medium and heavy weights to feeders sold around 179¢/kg. The B muscle yearling steers made to 211.6¢/kg. Medium and heavy yearling steers mostly sold from 172¢ to 175¢ as feeders paid around 176¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers eased 1¢ to 173¢ as the heavy C3s averaged 182¢/kg. Good heavy steers made to 187¢ as bullocks reached 190¢ to average 177¢/kg. The plain light dairy cows averaged 104¢ to 6¢kg dearer as the better medium weight dairy cows remained firm at 125¢/kg. The top of the heavy cows made over 150¢ with most making from 125¢ to 135¢/kg. Medium weight D3 beef cows gained 2¢ to average 142¢ as heavy D4s gained 2¢ to sell closer to 152¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

No relief in north

The north of the state remains very dry with drought conditions throughout much of the pastoral regions continuing. The poor seasonal conditions have impacted strongly on cattle condition and quality. Many reports are indicating pastoralists won’t be able to truck cattle off their runs due to their poor condition. The dry conditions and subsequent lack of feed and poor condition of cattle in these regions is also having a negative affect on live export activity usually witnessed in the north at this time of year.

The dry conditions in the southern Agricultural districts were brought to an end with a cold front and associated thunderstorms bringing much need rain late in the week. There were some extreme falls reported in the southeast of the Great Southern but most areas east and just north of Perth recorded falls of between 10 and 25mm. Feed conditions in the traditional cattle growing regions remain very low and many producers are now hoping for further follow-up rainfall. Supplementary feeding is continuing with the majority of this year’s calving having now already taken place.

Physical market numbers remained in line with the previous week with Muchea’s sale still being limited, while the Great Southern sale at Mt Barker was again very large. The dry conditions in the southwest have forced many producers to sell surplus stock and this has been aided in recent times with a spike in the demand, and subsequent prices for young store cattle. Whether or not this sell off continues after the rain is yet to be determined.

Export cattle prices firm

Vealer supplies remained negligible with the majority of being lightweight. Demand remained solid with quality very mixed and indicative of current feed conditions. The numbers of trade weight yearlings were again marginal also with a relatively even split between certified grainfed and grass finished drafts. As has been the case in recent weeks premiums were paid for selected certified grainfed lots by local retailers, while the remainder continued to record a firm competition from the processing and feeder sectors. Grass finished trade yearling quality was again very mixed. Little or no change was realised in the market with the feeder sector maintaining its recent active levels on both steers and heifers.

As has been the case for several months now young store grades of cattle made up for the majority of all sales. Solid live export demand remained on the steer portion of young store cattle and this again put a solid floor in the market once again pushing feeder buyers.

The rates for the majority of heavy weight export grades were maintained under a solid processor competition with cows again peaking around 140c/kg.

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