Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 5 July 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Variation in supply

The overall supply of stock across the state at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS fell by six per cent. However numbers varied greatly from centre to centre with supply in the north of the state experiencing very little change. There was a lift in a number of cattle penned at both the store and prime sales at Roma, with consignments from Julia Creek and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Dalby experienced a lift in supply by 33 per cent, while markets in Toowoomba almost halved from the previous weeks level. The overall quality of the young cattle continues to decline with the largest numbers coming forward in the south of the state while export lines of steers bullocks and cows dominated the selling pens in northern markets. Buyer attendance at most markets was generally good with Victorian restocker's active in places, and the usual panel of export buyers were present however not all were operating on the steer and bullock portion. Despite the slip in the standard of the young cattle at Warwick values experienced very little change and this trend continued to other markets with only small adjustments due to quality.

Feeder grades of yearling steers and heifers plus medium weight grown steers continued to meet stronger demand and values lifted accordingly. Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter generally maintained a firm trend with only top end quality lines receiving a small improvement.

Prices for cows at markets early in the week varied in places, nevertheless as the week progressed plain condition grades at Dalby improved by 4¢, and at closing week markets at Roma good heavy cows gained up to 5¢/kg.

Feeder grades dearer

A large number of calves sold to the trade at 174¢, and an equally large number returned to the paddock at an average of 198¢ with some to 220.2¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers also returned to the paddock at an average of 196¢ with a few pens of well bred grades reaching 215.2¢/kg. Despite the slip in the standard of the vealer heifers to the trade average prices managed to improve by 2¢ with a good sample averaging 177¢/kg. A large supply of lightweight yearling steers to restocker's averaged 205¢ with a few to 230¢/kg. Medium and heavyweight feeders mostly sold in the 180¢ range the occasional pen of medium weights making to 196.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restocker's were well supplied and averaged 177¢, and medium weights to the trade averaged 167¢ and sold to 191.2¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 9¢ better at 177¢ with sales to 188.6¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter generally sold close to 174¢ and bullocks averaged 172¢ and sold to 180¢/kg.

Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 116¢, and 3 scores were in the largest numbers and averaged 2¢ dearer at 130¢/kg. A fair supply of good heavy cows across all markets averaged 2¢ better at 142¢ a few pens to 155.2¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Numbers drop off

Cattle supply at MLA’s NLRS reported markets fell 22 per cent compared to the same period last week. The downturn in throughput was a combination of a little rainfall over the weekend on some areas and some producers holding off selling until the start of the new financial year.

Around 500 head less were penned at Forbes as the supply area had up to 20mm at the end of last week. Numbers almost halved at Tamworth and a number of feedlot and restocker buyers were not present. Wagga numbers dropped by 34 per cent where fewer vealers and cows were yarded compared to last week. The Dubbo offering fell 23 per cent with fewer Bos Indicus crosses brought forward. Numbers at Inverell rebounded with 250 more with the largest increase seen in the cow sale. Singleton and Goulbourn were the only other markets that had more cattle – both sales were dominated by young cattle.

Very few young cattle in prime condition were offered anywhere and those that were recorded strong demand from butchers and wholesalers. Most of the vealers offered weighed less than 330kg and restockers accounted for over 70 per cent of steer purchases. There were a few crop finished pens offered at Scone and Gunnedah with producers turning these cattle off before as the feed runs out.

Feedlots 1¢ to 2¢/kg more for C2 heavyweight yearlings with supplies of cattle suitable to be fed for 100 days reported to be tight. This also resulted in a couple of feedlots in NSW lifting their direct to feed rate 5¢ for heavyweights.

Prices mostly cheaper

Vealer steers could not maintain last weeks rates with restocker interest not as strong following some solid frosts. Lightweight C2’s averaged 4¢ cheaper at 206¢, medium weights were also 4¢ to 5¢ cheaper in the high 190¢ to 200¢/kg range. Light vealer heifers averaged 201¢ which was 15¢/kg dearer. Medium weights to restockers slipped 1¢ to average 180¢ as those suitable to the trade made 4¢ more at 185¢/kg. Light and medium yearling steers back to the paddock sold 5¢ to 8¢ dearer making from 194¢ to 197¢/kg. Lightweights to feed remained steady at 194¢ while heavy C3’s were 3¢ cheaper mostly making around 188¢/kg. Yearling heifers sold to a dearer trend from all buyers. Lot feeders paid 2¢ more for lightweights and 5¢ more for medium weights both averaging 178¢/kg. Heavyweight C3’s to the trade were firm selling to 196¢ and averaging 176¢/kg.

Export categories slipped in value. Medium grown steers to feeders were 3¢ cheaper selling from 145¢ to 188¢ and averaging 172¢/kg. Those to slaughter were 1¢ cheaper as medium weights averaged 173¢ and heavyweights averaged 179¢/kg. Cows to slaughter were mostly 1¢ cheaper, medium D2’s averaged 123¢ and heavy D4’s sold around 144¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Dry June hurts WA

The tight seasonal conditions across WA have continued this past week with little or no rainfall recorded across the majority of the state. Conditions in much of the pastoral regions remain very serious with drought still existent, while the southern Ag districts continue to struggle with dry conditions also. Last month was the second driest on record and subsequently feed supplies remain very tight with supplementary feeding still continuing in many areas. Coupled with the dry has been extremely cold temperatures and frost, which have also impacted negatively on pasture growth. The drought in the north and subsequent poor state of cattle in many of these areas, coupled with the problems in the Indonesian market have seen live export numbers well below par out of northern ports this year and many producers have had to send cattle south for less profitable returns. Agents conducted another special pastoral sale at Muchea mid-week which again recorded a reasonable level of demand from feeders and restockers, and again included a strong eastern states inquiry, but with the tight conditions in the southwest of WA it is difficult to expect restocker interest to continue if there is not a turn around in seasonal conditions.

Saleyard numbers constricted this week with the Great Southern sale having the smallest yarding for nearly twelve months with many agents commenting that numbers will not rebound now until the spring. As has been the case for some months now the supplies of prime slaughter cattle in saleyards remained very limited, while young mixed quality store grades were the dominant classes.

Cow rates ease

Vealer supplies remained all but non-existent throughout the three saleyards with the majority of these continuing to be lightweight calves. Demand for prime calves remains solid from the local retail sector with a reasonable restocker demand also recorded from the southwest. Grain finished cattle volumes were more restricted this week. Quality remained mixed, but despite this there was little or no change in the values of either steers or heifers due to a firm local trade and feeder competition. As has been the case in recent times store quality remained very mixed. Local store cattle continued to be predominately of lighter weights less than 300kg lwt. Little or no change was realised in rates with a solid inquiry remaining from both the restocker and feeder sectors. Pastoral stores were also predominately of lightweight and indicative of the very harsh conditions that have endured this season, but again demand remained reasonable from southern regions.

Heavy weight steer and bullock supplies were very limited in saleyards. Demand on prime drafts was similar from the trade weight plainer conditioned cattle firm to the restocker sector. The cow market saw a slight reduction in rates this week due to a weaker processor demand.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Market steady

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) gave the best indication for a steady environment in young cattle sales, as there was only a minor fall of 1.25c/kg cwt week on week. With an EYCI figure of 349.50c/kg cwt at the close of trading last Thursday, it indicated the physical market quotes, which were mostly unchanged. Top prices were higher for vealers with a number of pen lots of top quality B muscle calves penned at Bairnsdale. However, there was an aversion to heavier vealers over 400kgs lwt. Lighter weight yearling steers and heifers also sold to even trends with these plus vealers selling strongly for the butcher shop trade. However, while some of the heavier cattle sold well, there was a slight fall in price for steers and heifers. Part of any decrease in price for young cattle can be attributed to plainer quality, as the very cold weather rips the condition of cattle that are struggling for a feed. Having said that, there was continued strong competition from feedlots, opportunity feeders and restockers for a number of lighter weight cattle, and this saw some high prices paid for European breed calves. However, the same cannot be said for grown cattle, which started the week to very poor demand.

A number of cattle are being purchased form the north, and South Australia, filling up abattoirs, especially those only working limited hours. Early in the week was the worst with prices 6c to 12c/kg cheaper. Later in the week price falls were not as severe.

Weaker cow demand

Across the state, better quality vealers made between 180c and 220c/kg. At Bairnsdale there were several drafts of top quality, high yielding vealers that made between 222c and 235.2c/kg with several pen lots up to the top of this range. With feedlots casing supply of steers, most yearlings selling to them and the trade made between 170c and 195c/kg. Both feedlots and restockers purchased a large percentage of the plain condition cattle from 152c to 195c, and the best quality European breed calves made to 217c/kg. Heavier weighted steers were up to 6c cheaper making between 175c and 189c, while grown steers and prime bullocks were up to 10c cheaper early in the week and 6c/kg cheaper by the end.

With a lot of grown cattle coming form interstate, demand was weaker for the better quality cows and grown heifers. These also fell up to 10c with most 3 and 4 scores making between 135c and 156c/kg. Some heifers still made to 168c/kg. Lean cows were least affected with most ranging from 110c to 145c, and all of this saw a carcass weight price average of 282c/kg achieved. Bulls sold to a similar carcass weight average to last week.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Numbers and prices retreat

After last week’s downward price correction for cattle, it was not surprising that few have been yarded this week despite an increase of 110 head to 629 at the SA LE in mixed quality runs that also sold to a weaker trend from the usual trade and processor buyers. They also shunned the several large drafts of pastoral bred cattle in good condition featuring yearling steers, heifers, grown heifers, manufacturing steers and cows. There were also fewer feeder and restocker orders available that led to prices for lightweight heifers and steers falling substantially. Local butchers were active on the few vealers penned. Small numbers of grown steers and heifers, manufacturing steers and cows also sold to a weaker trend, with only some sales of D2 cows to restockers being any dearer.

A special pre financial year ending sale was held by Landmark at Naracoorte on Monday where 1,011 mainly heavy trade and export categories continued to sell at lower levels. Most sales were 4¢ to 13¢ cheaper, with some prime cows up to 20¢/kg less. At Naracoorte’s regular Tuesday market numbers fell substantially by 1,515 to 1,202 head on last weeks mammoth yarding. However, this sale was not immune to last week’s and Monday’s weaker trend and followed the lower prices being paid, with only some restocker and feeder purchases of yearlings being dearer. Mt. Gambier’s numbers retreated by 1,154 to 612 head and sold to the usual trade and processor buyers at basically unchanged rates. Millicent agents put together a slightly reduced yarding of 271 head for its fortnightly sale.

Cheaper trends

Most cattle producers would have been disappointed as prices for just about all categories continued to retreat further. Vealer steers in limited numbers to mainly trade competition sold from 175¢ to 212¢ or around 2¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers also sold mainly to the trade from 164¢ to 199¢, with heavy C3 sales 3¢ dearer and most others 3¢ to 19¢/kg less. Most heavy C3 yearling steers sold to the trade from 150¢ to 185¢ or 8¢/kg cheaper. Light and medium weight C2 steers to feeder and restockers sold from 159¢ to 200¢ to vary from 8¢ dearer and 11¢/kg cheaper. Medium and heavy C3 yearling heifers sold from 145¢ to 181¢ to be up to 15¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steer prices were generally 4¢ to 11¢ less, with C3 and C4 sales 155¢ to 185¢/kg and mainly in a 300¢ to 340¢/kg cwt price range. Grown heifers in larger C3 lines sold from 140¢ to 164¢ to be around 20¢/kg cheaper. Cow prices were generally 4¢ to 22¢ less, with most D2 to C5 beef prices 115¢ to 149¢/kg and generally 265¢ to 295¢/kg cwt. Dairy D1 and D2 sale ranged from 112¢ to 138¢ to be unchanged to 5¢/kg less.

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