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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

28 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.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Numbers lift

Even though supply decreased at Shepparton and Wodonga, over all markets reported by MLA's NLRS, a 20 per cent increase was realised. Most of this was due to the return of two Monday markets after a short week previously. However, with the exception of the two northern markets, all other sales were larger, which was driven by recent strong price trends. Quality at south western markets has become more mixed, with a lager proportion of plainer conditioned grades offered.

A shortfall of cattle led to sales early in the week selling to very strong demand, and this produced firm to dearer trends. Generally, the younger cattle realised a dearer trend with export classes selling mostly firm. However, by the middle of the week the pressure came off, and prices eased up to five cents per kg.

Part of the reason behind a fall in the need for grown steers, and particularly cows, was an increase in numbers across the border in Naracoorte (SA). The sale created the start of cheaper cow prices. Most affected were the light weight and poor condition cows.

Strong young cattle price trends were assisted by feeders and restockers. Currently, store cattle sales have been very dear, which is creating stronger competition at prime physical markets. Plainer condition cattle are selling as well as ever, but feedlots and restockers are competing head to head with processors for some of the better quality steers and heifers. The EYCI realised little change compared to last week, closing at 350.75¢/kg cwt.

Young cattle in demand

Melbourne butchers paid the state top of 231.2¢ for vealer steers, and most of the B muscle vealers made from 200¢ to 225¢/kg. Vealers at Wodonga were in short supply and quality was very good. European bred lines sold to strong demand resulting in a dearer trend of up to 6¢ as prices ranged from 179¢ to 220.2¢/kg.

Some very good quality supplementary fed yearlings at Pakenham on Monday swelled the supply of young cattle with the best of the steers making 225¢/kg.

Generally, grass finished yearling steers made between 170¢ and 196¢, while similar quality heifers made from 165¢ to 192¢/kg.

Grown steer numbers increased, but there was no SA buyer at Leongatha market and when combined with a general desire for cheaper prices, most were around 3¢/kg cheaper. Prime C muscle grown steers and bullocks made to 194¢ and averaged 182.5¢/kg. Manufacturing steers making from 145¢ to 180¢/kg.

Good quality beef cows realised little change with prices ranging from 142¢ to 168¢/kg. However, the leaner grades lost up to 5¢ with medium and light weight cows most affected. Prices were mostly from 115¢ to 148¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was 291¢, down 4¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply returns to normal

Throughput increased 32% across physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS. Most of the increase was a result of the return of Forbes, Tamworth and Wagga sales after no sales due to the Queens Birthday long-weekend. Armidale and Dubbo recorded larger offerings with all the other markets having a drop in supply as the end of the financial year approaches. Total state supply remained at similar levels to the last full trading week.

Cows dominated most yardings with fairly similar numbers of both steer and heifer vealers and yearlings. Restockers exhibited particularly strong demand on suitable lines of well bred vealer steers purchasing around 78% of those offered. Vealer steers to go back to the paddock reached a top of 235¢ at Casino for lightweights while at Dubbo lightweight Angus vealer steers were highly sought after by producers and made up to 237¢/kg. The heifer vealers mostly sold to trade buyers while a fair portion will be turned out to fatten. Feeders purchased a little over half of the yearling steers offered with restockers and processors accounting for around 25% each. Most yearling heifers went the same way as vealer heifers although feeders purchased around 35%.

Quality tended to plain with plenty of vealers and yearlings showing the effects of wintery conditions although there was an improvement in quality at Gunnedah and a scattering of finished pens at the other markets. There was an increase in the number of grown steers at Wagga while they remained scarce at most other centres. The supply of cows remains solid with 17% going back to the paddock.

Restockers strong on vealer steers

Vealer steers were firm to 4¢/kg dearer with strong interest shown from restockers. Lightweights returning to the paddock made a top of 237¢ to average 209¢/kg. Medium weights also purchased by producers were 3¢ dearer averaging 203¢, the few medium weights to slaughter made the same rates as last week mostly selling around 187¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers could not maintain last weeks prices with those to the trade and restockers both slipping 2¢ making 185¢ and 177¢/kg respectively. Medium weights to turn out gained 3¢ to average 181¢ and those to slaughter improved 7¢ the majority selling around 196¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers were dearer, those back to the paddock gained 8¢ after reaching 207¢ to average 192¢/kg. Feeders paid around 195¢ for lightweights, 190¢ for medium weights and 184¢/kg for C2 heavyweights. Medium weight yearling heifers to slaughter were 4¢ cheaper to 178¢ as the heavyweights remained firm at 175¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed were firm at 175¢ and heavyweights topped at 197¢ to average 180¢/kg. Medium D3 cows remained steady at 133¢ while heavyweight D3 and D4's averaged 144¢ to be 1¢ and 6¢/kg stronger respectively.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Forecasts for fine conditions

The southern agricultural regions have recorded wide spread rainfall during the mid-week period with reasonable falls witnessed across many areas. Unfortunately forecasts have predicted little or no rain for the next fortnight or so with cold conditions expected and frosting also predicted. There has been improvement in parts of the north where rain was also realised, but things remain tight. The recent moisture in the south has aided pasture growth despite the cold conditions and subsequently producers continue to have to supplementary feed their stock.

As has been the case in recent times the implementation of lower live weights into Indonesia is still to have any visible affect in the market, despite many within industry discussing the point.

Cattle numbers at physical markets remained reasonable, but as has been the case over the past couple of weeks, quality was extremely mixed and generally plain. The very dry conditions in the north and subsequent poor condition of pastoral cattle has had a negative affect of Muchea's numbers with lower than expected supplies from the northern regions. Locally bred cattle volumes remained fair. Supplies of certified grain yearlings were also limited with the majority of these again offered at Muchea.

Heavy weight grown steer and bullock supplies remained limited as did heavy weight grown heifer numbers. Cow numbers were reasonable, while the supplies of young store cattle, both local and pastoral, continued to be the largest classes offered. Processor demand remained generally in line with the previous week's levels.

Cow and bull demand solid

Vealer supplies were again all but non-existent with most lightweights. Prices were unchanged to the local retail trade, while restocker interest has been more active in recent weeks and in line with an increase in southwest grass supplies. The reasonably limited volumes of certified grainfed yearlings continued to record steady local processor competition with little or no change recorded in either steer or heifer prices. Light and plain conditioned drafts were again reasonably well supported by both restockers and the feeder sectors. The solid supplies of local yearlings remained predominately light and medium weight. Heavy drafts recorded firm feeder and restocker demand while the light and medium weight better quality stores recorded increased live export demand which resulted in slightly dearer rates. Store heifer rates were also recorded at firm rates under a continued buoyant feeder and restocker demand.

There were very limited supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks with little or no change recorded in competition or values. The very solid demand of recent months for quality heavy weight cows continued under strong local and export processor competition and rates remained firm. Heavy weight bull categories realised slightly dearer rates.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A small drop in supply

Despite the return to a full trading week the overall supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS fell 8%. Numbers at Longreach declined and the supply at both the store and prime sales at Roma reduced from the high levels experienced in previous weeks. Dalby also experienced a small lift in numbers.

The overall quality continues to decline with a large variation in the standard of the young cattle. This trend is now starting to flow on to the grown cattle sections with the overall quality of the steers and bullocks starting to slip. Some good samples of 3 and 4 score cows are still coming forward, however those in the 1 and 2 score ranges are becoming more prevalent. Buyer attendance varied in places with restocker buyers from as far south as Victoria present on the downs lifting values accordingly on lightweight cattle especially the female section. Not as many buyers were operating at some other centres nevertheless the decline in numbers helped keep demand buoyant. Meanwhile grown cattle in some centres struggled to find much buyer demand and cows faced a subdued buying gallery with only one major Queensland processor providing competition to several interstate operators.

Young cattle generally met strong support from restocker's feeder operators and the trade. Prices varied according to quality with small selections of local trade cattle improving in value, and as the week progressed feeder cattle met increased buyer competition. Heavy steers and bullocks lost 1¢ to 2¢/kg however this was more of a reflection in the lesser standard rather than weakening market trend.

Yearling cattle price rise

Calves to restocker's sold to the occasional 230.2¢ with most close to 199¢/kg. The vast majority of the vealer steers returned to the paddock and in southern markets generally sold over 200¢ with a few pens reaching 215.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 175¢, while those going to restocker's improved 6¢ to average 181¢ with sales to 196.2¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock generally sold around 200¢ with sales to 218¢/kg. Medium weight feeder grades averaged 6¢ better at 190¢ with a few to 201.2¢/kg. Local trade descriptions improved 6¢ to average 171¢ with sales to 206.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers in the D muscle range sold to restocker's at 158¢, while better bred C muscle categories averaged 174¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade experienced improvements of 3¢ to average 171¢ the occasional sale to 208.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 170¢, and good heavy bullocks averaged 172¢ with isolated sales to 186.6¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 115¢ and 3 scores close to 128¢/kg. Good heavy cows generally sold around 140¢ with the occasional small pen reaching 154.2¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Large supply increase

With the end of the 2009/10 financial year just around the corner combining with a generally dearer sale trend last week in the South East, there were smaller numbers at the SA LE after a two week break. Most of the usual buyers operated on generally good quality runs. Local butchers were active early in the sale before demand diminished as it progressed. Feeder and restocker orders were to the fore and sourced well bred vealers and yearlings at generally dearer levels.

It would be doubted that anyone would have expected the huge increase in numbers at Naracoorte and similar to any Spring markets where the yarding doubled in a sale where numbers eventually outstripped demand except for the last agents run that featured some magnificent supplementary fed grown steers and yearlings that rekindled most buyers demand.

Many of the cattle yarded had emanated from the pastoral areas that had been supplementary fed, with some steers originally from Mt. Lyndhurst Station topping the grown steer. There were another 909 cows sold and begs the question as to how many cows are left for sale after a couple of months of large numbers being turned off at the good prices being paid by SA and Victorian processors in the South East.

Mt. Gambier's yarding was slightly larger and had vendors and agents pondering what had happened as just about all categories attracted prices averaging around 10¢ cheaper, with even some early sales of grown steers some 20¢/kg lower.

Most categories cheaper

There was a definite effort by the trade and processor buyers to lower their rates, and was not helped by a South Eastern processor being fully booked. The only categories to show a dearer trend were some feeder and restocker prices on vealers and yearlings, together with some plain quality cows.

Most vealer steers finished with feeder and restocker orders with C2 sales 165¢ to 201¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to mainly local butcher and wholesale competition were generally 5¢ to 16¢ cheaper selling from 158¢ to 205¢/kg. Most light and medium weight yearling steers sold to feeder and restocker activity from 160¢ to 199¢/kg. Trade purchases of mainly heavyweights were from 160¢ to 207¢ and mainly 6¢ to 11¢/kg cheaper. Most yearling heifers finished with the trade, with C3 sales 165¢ to 188¢ and D3 145¢ to 168¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were 1¢ to 11¢ lower, as C3 and C4 sales ranged mainly from 173¢ to 194¢ and averaged close to 340¢/kg cwt. Cow prices were mostly 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper, with D3 to C5 sales 130¢ to 168c¢ and mainly 275¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

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