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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

04 June 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Victorian Cattle Summary

Strong demand

Supply was slightly higher across markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. At most selling centres the quality was quite good with a reasonable supply of top quality vealers, supplementary fed and grass finished cattle offered.

Young cattle prices were not a lot different with only minor movements of 5¢/kg either way being realised. The EYCI at the close of trade on Thursday was 349¢, which was 4.50¢/kg higher than last week. This increase was driven in part by strong competition from feedlots as well as good demand for young cattle in the northern states. There was a good selection of feedlots and restockers purchasing cattle, with emphasis certainly being placed on the better quality lines of vealers and yearlings. This in turn forced processors to lift rates at times to secure sufficient supplies.

Grown cattle also sold very well with a reasonable supply of grown steers and bullocks offered. There were however a fair percentage which were leaner 2 and 3 scores in the heavier weight ranges. The value of the A$ is at a level more suiting processors compared to last month, resulted in strong competition for cows to suit boning room orders. This pushed prices to levels not witnessed for some time at all sales. Later in the week, lean dairy cows best suiting the 90CL US grinding beef market, sold to very strong competition, which assisted a higher carcass weight price average for cows of 285¢/kg. Bulls were also able to benefit from the current A$ value and sold to slightly dearer trends of 3¢ to 5¢/kg.

Grown cattle dearer

Heavy vealers sold to 230¢ for a single sale at the Pakenham young cattle sale, but there were a number of multiple sales, including pen lots between 210¢ and 220¢/kg. Across the other markets vealers reached 215c/kg.

A number of feedlots were very active, and paid from 175¢ to 196¢/kg for C muscle vealers and yearlings with the top prices paid for those with some European breeds. There were also plenty of plain quality lines purchased between 155¢ and 178¢/kg. Grass finished yearlings sold well with most steers making from 165¢ to 196¢, and the heifers from 158¢ to 186¢/kg.

The few medium weight grown steers gained 5¢ to 181¢ as heavy weights sold well making to 195¢ at Wodonga with most making from 183¢ to 186¢ to be 4¢/kg dearer. Most bullocks sold around 183¢/kg. Better grown heifers made in the early 160¢ range as plainer lines sold closer to 154¢/kg.

The strong demand for cows resulted in most selling firm to 11¢/kg dearer. Most of the better lines made from 142¢ to 160¢, and most lean cows from 115¢ to 148¢/kg. The light plain cows made from 65¢ to 123¢/kg.

South Australia Cattle Summary

Smaller yardings

With the fee dispute lingering at the SA LE combining with some heavy rainfall in many regions, there was a greatly reduced but mixed quality yarding. Naracoorte’s yarding was of similar size and featured very good quality runs of supplementary finished cattle to be the states largest larding. Mt. Gambier had a slightly increased with quality slipping on the young cattle, and more dairy cows being yarded due to the solid prices being paid. Millicent agents put together a similar small sized sale for its fortnightly sale.

The SA LE market sold to erratic demand to a smaller field of processor buyers. Wholesale and local butchers provided solid competition for well bred prime young cattle at generally dearer levels. Feeders had limited numbers and poor quality from which to source supplies.

Naracoorte sold to solid trade and processor competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers with many cattle out of the Loxton feedlot and others from closer in. Feeder and restocker orders were active and provided strong competition to the trade as they sourced C2 and C3 vealer and yearling steers. There was also a large run of 797 good quality cows offered, with a processor keeping most other buyers on their toes as they sourced a wide range of quality and categories.

Mt. Gambier’s sale witnessed quality slipping further on the young cattle that left the trade struggling at times, while feeder and restocker orders were quite active.

Mixed results

The varying quality offered led to mixed results for producers. Vealer steers to the trade in limited numbers sold from 182¢ to 210¢ to be basically unchanged. Feeder and restocker orders secured C2 steers from 180¢ to 195¢, or 5¢kg cheaper. Vealer heifers also in limited numbers to the trade sold from 168¢ to 216¢ to be 3¢ to 16¢/kg dearer. Feeder orders sourced C2 heifers from 175¢ to 180¢, or 2¢/kg cheaper. The C3 yearling steers were keenly sourced as they sold from 165¢ to 196¢ at rates 6¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Feeder purchases of C2 and C3 steers ranged from 155¢ to 196¢/kg. Yearling heifers were 3¢ to 5¢ dearer, with C3 and C4 sales mainly 165¢ to 197¢/kg.

Grown steers were generally 2¢ to 4¢ dearer, with C3 and C4 sales 165¢ to 188¢ to wholesale and processor inquiry, as carcase weight ranged mainly in a 320¢ to 350¢/kg price range. Cow prices were erratic with some 2¢ to 8¢ cheaper and others 2¢ to 11¢/kg dearer, as most 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 125¢ to 170¢, with D muscled dairy cows 114¢ to 148¢, as most sales ranged from 275¢ to 330¢/kg cwt.

Queensland cattle summary

Steady supply

The supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS varied from centre to centre depending on the rain, or lack of, in the supply areas. Light to useful falls reduced numbers at Toowoomba and Warwick, however by midweek disappointing falls in local and western districts increased supply at Dalby and the prime market at Roma. Overall across the state total numbers yarded only fell by a few hundred head.

Buyer attendance also varied in places nevertheless still remained relatively good across most categories as one processor pulled out of the market another stepped in to provide stronger competition. Restocker activity varied from centre to centre depending on rainfall nevertheless apart from some adjustments in places due to quality the majority of the young cattle met a firm to dearer trend. The very solid demand displayed by feeder buyers in recent weeks continued and despite some ample supplies values for medium weight yearling steers improved by 6¢, and 1¢ to 4¢/kg for the heifer portion.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter generally met firm to stronger demand. Regardless in the drop of the standard of the bullocks penned at Dalby values were still able to remain close to the improved rates experienced the previous week. A wide selection of cows came forward with the deteriorating season reflected in the quality, nevertheless the majority are still in the 3 and 4 score ranges, and a lift in the standard of the heavy grades in places saw prices improve by up to 8¢/kg.

Feeders dearer

Calves to restocker's averaged 195¢ and sold to 213.2¢ while trade descriptions mostly sold around 173¢/kg. Vealer steers to both feed and restocker's made over 200¢/kg with the feeder grades averaging 201¢, and those returning to the paddock 204¢ with sales to 222.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter improved 4¢ to average 173¢ with the occasional sale to 208.2¢/kg. A large sample of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock around 207¢ with sales to 226¢/kg. Light medium and heavy yearling steers to feed sold in the high 180¢/kg range with a few medium weights to 199¢/kg. Medium weight slaughter lines averaged 170¢ and a couple of heavy B muscle grades made to 213.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restocker's averaged 181¢ while medium weight feeder lines mostly sold around 166¢/kg. Medium trade weights remained unchanged at close to 168¢ with sales to 185.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 181¢ and sold to 191¢/kg. A fair supply of bullocks averaged 177¢ and made to 190.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 115¢ and 3 scores 126¢/kg. A relatively large supply of good heavy cows mostly sold close to 146¢ with the occasional sale to 165.2¢/kg.

NSW Cattle Summary

Welcomed rain lowers numbers

Good rain across most of the state resulted in throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported markets slipping 26% compared last week. The much needed wet weather in the north of the state caused a 56% fall in numbers at Tamworth, 50% drop at Gunnedah and 55% reduction at Inverell. The other areas of the state also had lower yardings except Dubbo which increased by around half after a much smaller penning last week but was still 28% lower than a fortnight ago.

Although the condition of most cattle remained on the plain side some markets recorded an improvement in overall quality with producers able to hold onto unfinished cattle a little longer, given pasture will freshen and forage crops will be given a boost. Most grades of cattle were represented although prime grown steers were lacking in some areas. Vealer steers made up around 16% and vealer heifers 20% of the total yarding while yearling steers accounted for 16% and heifers 15%, 15% were grown steers while cows continue to dominate most saleyards making up 21% of the states throughput.

The regular gallery of buyers were joined by some added restocker activity at mostly dearer rates, due to a combination of less numbers and improved producer confidence. Processors procured the majority of young heifers although restockers purchased a larger proportion of yearlings than last week. Fewer cattle meant processors acquired a greater proportion of yearling steers at the expense of feeders and restockers who were unable to secure the same percentage as last week.

Rise in prices

Most categories benefited with a price boost with fewer numbers yarded due to wet weather. Lightweight vealer steers to restock improved 7¢ after making between 162¢ and 225¢ to average 204¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade were 5¢ dearer at 187¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers to processors averaged 187¢ around 8¢ dearer, medium weights to restock made around 182¢ as those to the trade mostly sold around 185¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feeders improved 3¢ to average 195¢/kg and restockers paid similar rates. Medium weight C2’s to feed and restock sold around 189¢ mostly firm to 3¢/kg dearer. Heavyweight C3’s to feed and slaughter were 5¢ stronger around 186¢/kg. Yearling heifers were also dearer with most grades gaining between 3¢ and 6¢/kg. Lightweights to restockers made 169¢ while heavyweights to processors realised an average of 178¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders averaged 11¢ dearer at 179¢ and topping at 188¢/kg. Heavyweights and bullocks did not experience the same strong demand mostly selling 2¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper. Heavyweight C3 steers and C4 bullocks averaged 178¢/kg. Cows were mostly dearer, restockers paid 8¢ more for medium weight D2’s at an average of 128¢ while heavyweight D4 consignments averaged 145¢ to be 2¢/kg dearer.

Western Australia Cattle Summary

Dry conditions remain

The dry conditions continue to plague much of the northern pastoral areas with drought wide spread throughout much of the Murchison, Gascoyne and Pilbarra. The quality of cattle out of these areas is well below par with the majority being in plain store condition. For many pastoralists, conditions have become so bad that trucking stock off runs is now not an option. To aid pastoralists agents conducted the first pastoral cattle sale mid-week in the new Muchea saleyard where almost 2,000 head were offered.

Although there has been improvement in the seasonal conditions in the southern Agricultural regions, another week of predominately fine and dry weather was recorded for the first week of winter. Day time temperatures have been mild and this has aided pasture growth, while nights have become cold. It is the imminence of cold weather that now worries producers with pasture levels being so low for this time of year and handing feeding continues as a daily routine on most farms.

The increase in pastoral supplies and a lifting of confined numbers at Muchea resulted in cattle volumes remaining steady with south western cattle volumes also very healthy. The supplies of prime heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifers remained limited irrespective of saleyard with trade weight yearling supplies also remaining reasonably tight. As has been the case in recent times young store grades were again plentiful across the state with these making up the bulk of total physical market numbers. Cow supplies were fair with the strong current market conditions drawing supplies to saleyards.

Eastern states orders active

Vealer supplies were extremely negligible irrespective of region with the majority of these continuing to be of lightweights. Local retailer demand for these prime vealers has been maintained with plain and heavier drafts recording firm restocker demand from the southwest. Certified grainfed yearling volumes were firm and in line with recent weeks supplies. Local processor demand continues at similar levels with little or no change recorded to values. Supplies of grass finished trade weight yearlings remained hard to find. Quality remained generally plain with most purchased for further feeding. The solid supplies of local yearling stores remained of a mixed quality with most now being seen between 250 and just in excess of 330kg lwt.

Demand for store grades remains very solid from local southwest restockers and feeders, while the WA market continues to see a selective but constant list of buyers from the east coast. Pastorals store steers between 250 to 280kg received generally between 130¢ to 140¢/kg lwt with agents more than happy with clearance levels and demand. Demand from the processing sector for cows remained very solid with the strong market conditions of recent times remaining.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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