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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

28 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.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply dips

Handy falls of rain in some areas of the state will freshen pasture and forage crops going into winter. It will also give sown winter crops some much needed moisture and allow farmers in other areas to finish sowing. The wet weather was the major factor in reducing throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported markets by 17 per cent and the chance of further falls next week may have also had an impact. Dubbo experienced the largest fall in supply with around 54 per cent fewer cattle yarded; Gunnedah was also significantly reduced, with a 32 per cent fall in the number of cattle offered.

Quality is tending to plain as has been the case over recent weeks. There are still some prime finished cattle offered and these have been subjected to strong competition from trade buyers. Most of the cattle yarded are more suited to feeder buyers and restockers. Most of the regular buyers operated throughout the week and some of the northern feeders returned to Tamworth with Queensland yardings also falling.

The decline in numbers was largely due to a 29 per cent reduction in yearling heifers penned, grown steers were back 14 per cent and cows were down six per cent. Around the same number of yearling steers were supplied although restockers were responsible for a greater proportion of purchases. On the other hand less cows were purchased to return to the paddock allowing processors to secure similar numbers to last week despite less offered overall.

Over the hooks rates were dearer with a fall in the A$ assisting the grown cattle. Most categories lifted 2¢ to 5¢/kg cwt.

Prices steady

Lightweight vealer steers to restock were firm to 6¢ cheaper with C muscles averaging 197¢/kg. Medium weights were mostly purchased to return to the paddock as C2s sold in the mid 190¢ range with the heavier weights holding firm and the lighter pens easing slightly. The heifer portion on the whole managed to mostly hold close to last weeks rates. Lightweights to the trade averaged 179¢/kg. Medium weight C2’s to restock sold at slightly cheaper rates ranging from 152¢ to 193¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed were firm at 192¢ while those to restock averaged 185¢/kg. Medium weight 2 scores to feed were 2¢ dearer at close to 187¢/kg. Heavyweights to trade buyers averaged 2¢ less at 182¢/kg. The lightweight heifer portion of the yearlings to feed and restock sold to dearer rates from 166¢ to 170¢/kg. Medium weights to slaughter made 171¢/kg as did the heavyweights.

Medium weight grown steers to feed were up to 2¢ dearer averaging from 168¢ to 177¢/kg. Heavyweights to processors were 2¢ dearer at close to 180¢/kg. Medium weight cows made from 90¢ to 143¢ as heavyweights were 4¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper. Heavyweight D4 cows made form 122¢ to 155¢ to average 142¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Increased numbers

There were larger numbered yardings at the SA LE. Naracoorte’s numbers increasing, including 883 cows being offered after last week’s quite amazing prices. Mt. Gambier’s numbers have retreated slightly as perhaps producers either run out of stock to sell, or are just holding onto them to put on more condition as a price of 210¢/kg for feeder steers to NSW is being bandied around. This could be a lure to add more weight, as that price seems to be well above what can be achieved in the saleyards at present for grass finished steers, while the supplementary feds have been selling between 185¢ and 201¢/kg depending on weight.

The SA LE’s yarding featured a generally better quality yarding of young cattle that sold to the usual competition, albeit at mainly lower rates to trade, feeder and restocker orders. Cow prices remained similar despite some buyers being absent.

The bubble burst slightly at Naracoorte on its large yarding of cows, however there were still good prices being paid for prime medium and heavyweight cows that generally sold from 145¢ to 166¢/kg, with quite a few sales rising above the 300¢/kg cwt mark. The young cattle were of mixed quality that led to strong feeder and restocker competition, with some lightweight vealer steers selling to a peak of 206¢/kg.

While Mt. Gambier’s overall quality slipped, there was still steady competition from most of the usual SA and Victorian trade, processor, feeder and restocker buyers.

Export categories cheaper

Young cattle sales were quite erratic due to the varying quality and export categories generally cheaper despite a weaker A$. Most vealer steers finished with feeder and restocker orders selling from 172¢ to 208¢ to be 2¢ to 7¢/kg dearer. Trade purchases of B and C muscled steers were between 178¢ and 214¢ and ranged from 1¢ to 2¢ cheaper, and 4¢ to 7¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade and local butchers sold from 164¢ to 210¢/kg, with some dearer and others cheaper. Feeder and restockers paid from 174¢ to 192¢/kg for C muscle heifers at basically unchanged rates. Yearling steers to wholesalers sold from 160¢ to 201¢ at rates 1¢ to 4¢ cheaper, with feeders and restockers paying between 163¢ to 199¢/kg for the C2 steers, at mainly dearer levels. Yearling heifer C3 sales were unchanged to 3¢ cheaper selling from 160¢ to 194¢/kg. Feeders and restockers sourced a wide range of quality from 136¢ to 177¢/kg.

Grown steers and cows were mainly unchanged to 10¢ cheaper, with the steers mostly 165¢ to 189¢/kg averaging 335¢/kg cwt. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 114¢ to 168¢/kg, or mainly 255¢ to 320¢/kg cwt.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A reduction in supply

The forecast of some rain across the southern end of the state resulted in the supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS reducing by 18 per cent. Nevertheless numbers at Longreach climbed, and supply at Mareeba remained virtually unchanged.

Quality remains an issue at most centres as the cooler dry weather takes its toll on the young lightweight classes. Isolated falls of rain of up to 20mm across the Maranoa region boosted the spirits of restocker's at Roma and resulted in lightweight yearling cattle rising in price. This trend was also noticeable at most other centres and apart from heifer vealers meeting a subdued market most other classes of young cattle met a firm to dearer trend. Lightweight yearling steers to feed improved in price due to extra competition from restockers. However despite the large numbers penned medium and heavyweights to feed generally sold to very solid demand with average prices only easing in places due to the drop in quality.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced very little change in price at the commencement of the week. Nevertheless by Tuesday a lift in market values plus lift in quality saw values improve, and full mouth bullocks were not penalised and sold to within a few cents of the 4 and 6 tooth classes. This trend strengthen by midweek with a small sample of bullocks over 750kg lwt meeting strong demand. Cows also experienced a dearer movement in values as the week progressed with strong restocker support pushing up prices on plain condition and PTIC categories.

Steady export demand

Calves returning to the paddock made to 230.2¢ to average 196¢ while those to the trade were generally females and sold around 167¢/kg. Vealer steers to feed averaged 198¢ and restocker grades 205¢ with some well bred pens reaching 221.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 169¢ with a few heavy grades to local butchers reaching 196.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restocker's across all markets gained 10¢ to average 208¢ with some to 226.2¢/kg. Medium and heavyweight lines to feed averaged in the early 180¢/kg range with a few pens to 193.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers sold to restocker's 7¢ dearer at 177¢ and medium weights 163¢/kg. Medium weight slaughter lines of yearling heifers averaged 4¢ dearer at 168¢ a few heavy certified grainfed's to 185.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 177¢ and sold to 187.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 7¢ better at 180¢ and sold to 190.2¢/kg. Bullocks sold to a similar amount and averaged 3¢ dearer at 178¢, a few over 750 kg live weight made to 183.2¢/kg. Well bred PTIC cows sold to restocker's at a top of 158.2c/kg in pen lots. Medium weight two score cows to processors improved 5¢ to average 116¢ and 3 scores 128¢/kg. Good heavy cows generally sold around 4¢ dearer at 145¢ with the occasional sale to 160¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Further moisture aids the south

Conditions in much of the north remain dire with little or no rain again recorded over the past week. The far north however continues to be fair with further rainfall recorded recently. Conditions in much of the southern Agricultural regions have realised ongoing improvement as further rainfall was received. A cold front crossed the coast bringing wide spread rainfall with the largest falls north of Perth in the Midwest. Temperatures have remained mild for most regions even though nights have seen lower recordings. Germinations continue at reasonable levels, despite some areas now having already witnessed two this season that have died.

The dry conditions in the northern pastoral regions remain a problem for industry with cattle predominately in poor to store condition. This continues to hamper live export activity and with numbers restriction soon to be lifted at the new Muchea saleyard, numbers from pastoral areas will surely spike sharply. Despite this supplies remained reasonable only slightly lower than the previous week. Muchea’s yarding again had a reasonable percentage of its yarding sourced from pastoral areas despite local cattle accounting for the majority.

The Great Southern yarding remained solid also as young store cattle continued to make up for the majority of this yarding. The volumes of heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifers were again negligible. Trade weight yearling supplies were also tight with cow and bull volumes remaining at fair levels. Processor demand in the majority of classes continued at firm levels, while feeder and restocker interest were both maintained.

Cow demand maintained

Although in similar supply the numbers of trade weight yearlings remained reasonably limited. The majority of these were again supplementary fed or certified grainfed, as would be expected at this time of year with grass remaining hard to find. Local trade demand for both finished steers and heifers remained firm with little or no change realised to prices, while feeder competition continued to under pin this. Grass fed lots were predominately purchased by the feeder sector. As has been the case in recent times the quality and weight of yearling store cattle was extremely mixed and generally plain. A tightening on the number of cattle in feed lots couple with a tighter supply of quality stores resulted in good demand from the feeder sector. It was however more selective and there was a slight weakening of averages with prices spread over a wider area.

There was little or no change realised in heavy weight steer and bullock values with grown heifer sales back slightly on the previous week’s high rates. The heavy weight cow market maintained its buoyancy once again under committed processor competition, while heavy weight bull sales rose marginally.

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Supply reduced

Throughput reduced 14 per cent compared to last week and but is 13 per cent above the corresponding week last year. Numbers were back at all physical markets except Shepparton which experienced a 16 per cent increase in the size of its yarding. Ballarat was nearly half the size of last week, Leongatha was reduced 11 per cent, Pakenham Monday’s sale was down 23 per cent and Wodonga young cattle was back by more than 35 per cent after some falls of rain throughout the supply area.

There was an increase in the number of yearling steers offered along with more bulls and grown heifers. The other categories all had less numbers; cows were down four per cent, wile there were 17 per cent less grown steers presented, vealer heifers were down 18 per cent, yearling heifers numbers were reduced by 27 per cent and vealer steers were back 14 per cent.

Quality across the state was mixed with an increase in the number of plainer cattle offered along with some runs of well finished supplementary fed young cattle at Wodonga and Pakenham. Processors accounted for most of young cattle purchases although feeder buyers were active on suitable lines of yearlings. Around a quarter of yearling steers will be put onto feed compared to around 30 per cent of yearling heifers. While trade buyers secured 61 per cent of yearling steers and 53 per cent of yearling heifers.

Over the hooks rates remained unchanged for most categories. Medium weight vealers recorded a dearer trend of 2¢ to 5¢/kg cwt while medium and heavyweight yearlings were slightly cheaper. All other rates were left unchanged with no forecasted movements for young cattle heading into winter given the level of young cattle entering feedlots.

Prices weaker

Most categories move to lower levels overall, however price changes varied from centre to centre depending on what came forward. The quality and number of prime stock dictated buying patterns more so than in previous weeks and the cooler weather and approaching winter influence sellers, lotfeeders and restockers. Restockers purchased vealer steers for a cheaper rate of 187¢/kg. Slaughter grades of vealer steers were dearer at 195¢/kg. Yearlings were generally cheaper with the trade paying 180¢ to 187¢ and lotfeeders 173¢ to 177¢/kg. Restockers purchased yearling steers for 5¢ less, at 176¢/kg across all weights. Yearling heifers followed a similar trend processor grades firm at 176¢ and feeder and restocker lines cheaper, at 161¢ to 167¢ to the paddock and 171¢ to 174¢/kg to the feedlot.

Grown steer prices were similar to last week’s levels. Medium and heavy weight grown steers along with bullocks all made around the 179¢ to 183¢, with a top price of 192.6¢/kg. With the A$ rapidly depreciating over the past week there was some optimism for vendors of export grade. Cows gained 3¢ and averaged 130¢ for light and medium D2s, 140¢ to 150¢ and medium and heavy D3s and 142¢ to 148¢/kg for heavy D4s.

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