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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

24 September 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

NSW Weekly Cattle Summary

Supply steady demand strong

Numbers across the state recorded a marginal increase although the trend was mixed depending on the location of the market. Northern markets experienced a drop in supply with rainfall once again limiting the transport of stock to market. Gunnedah, Armidale, Casino and Tamworth all had a fall in numbers. Goulburn also had a smaller yarding with a shortage of stock in the area, although the condition and quality of the offering was very good. On the other hand after a week of finer weather in the west of the state Dubbo had a significant increase with heavy grown steers and bullocks making up a large percentage of the increased yarding. Forbes, Wagga, Singleton and CTLX also experienced a lift in numbers.

Overall condition continues to improve. Given the season producers have the option to hang onto stock and present them in prime condition or they can sell unfinished lines which are in strong demand from restockers and feeders. With Queensland buyers adding extra competition to some markets given supplies were disrupted north of the border after more widespread rainfall. The extra competition helped most categories maintain or improve on last weeks rates.

The composition of the states supply changed with around half the number of vealer steers offered and 16 per cent fewer vealer heifers. Yearling steers numbers dropped 14 per cent while the heifer portion increased 20 per cent. The number of grown steers jumped 72 per cent while the cow penning was relatively similar to last week.

Over the hook rates mostly remained unchanged with one processor lifting rates for cows and bull the only movement.

Prices strong

Restockers paid to a top of 261¢ for lightweight vealer steers with most averaging between 235¢ and 244¢/kg. Medium weights returning to the paddock sold at similar rates averaging 223¢ as those to the trade were also unchanged around 205¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers to the trade averaged 8¢ dearer at 232¢ with medium weights improving 5¢ to 216¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers and feeders improved 4¢ selling around 216¢ and 207¢/kg. Medium weights to feed gained 5¢ averaging 201¢ as those to slaughter were 4¢ dearer as 202¢/kg. Heavyweights to feed and process gained 3¢ to 4¢ averaging 194¢ after reaching 207¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to the trade averaged 203¢ as feeders paid around 193¢ and restockers averaged 200¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders averaged 5¢ to 10¢ dearer from 189¢ to 199¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter improved 4¢ to sell around 185¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed reached 198¢ to average 189¢/kg. Heavyweights reached 200¢ to average 5¢ higher at 190¢/kg. Bullocks improved 4¢ to make around 186¢ and 191¢/kg. Cows were mostly firm to slightly dearer. Medium weights averaged between 138¢ and 146¢ as heavyweights sold to 172¢ to average between 153¢ and 158¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Rain reduced supply

The return of widespread rain across a large portion of the state once again dramatically reduced numbers with the supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS falling by close to 12,000 head. Markets early in the week only experienced a small drop in supply as most stock were in transit before the rain moved across the supply area. However as the week progressed and the rain set in, numbers at the Roma store sale fell significantly, and with the rain continuing the Roma prime sale was cancelled. Good falls of rain across the north of the state also caused the cancellation of Longreach market plus other selling centres in central Queensland.

Apart from limited competition in the buying gallery in some centres due to the small numbers, buyer activity at most centres was strong including all major export operators, plus interstate processors, feeder operators and restockers.

Overall across all markets the short supply force values up for calves vealer heifers and lightweight yearling heifers. Local butchers also battled to secure numbers of medium and heavy weight yearling heifers lifting average prices by 8¢ to 10¢/kg. Feeder and restocker lines generally continued on a firm trend with any average price changes due to the quality penned.

The extra processor demand on the heavy steers and bullocks lifted 4¢ to 5¢/kg. The smaller samples of cows penned allowed average prices to improve 3¢ to 4¢/kg with very strong support from restockers on the poor condition and PTIC classes.

Most classes dearer

A handful of calves sold to restockers around 230¢ with the occasional sale to 300¢, while calves to the trade mostly so around 216¢/kg. Vealer steers to the trade averaged 6¢ dearer at 212¢ with some to 224.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers also to the trade mostly sold around 208¢ with local butchers paying to 225¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged just under 220¢ with a few pens reaching 242.2¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed averaged in the 180¢/kg range with some medium weights reaching 216.6¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter lifted 4¢ to 206¢ with a few sales at 226.2¢/kg. Medium weight lines to the trade averaged 10¢ dearer at 191¢ with sales to 210¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter improved 4¢ to average 186¢ and sold to 196.2¢/kg. Bullocks lifted 5¢ with most around 188¢ with a few sales to 192.2¢/kg. A handful of full mouth bullocks made to 186.2¢ to average 170¢/kg. Plain condition cows to restockers averaged 137¢ and PTIC lines sold to 154.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows to processors averaged 3¢ better at close to 130¢, while 3 scores were 4¢ dearer at 142¢/kg. Good heavy cows improved 3¢ to average 157¢ with a couple of very well bred cows reaching 175.2¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Smaller yardings

There were smaller yardings, although SA LE only realised a slight reduction which greeting the usual trade and processor buyers, and selling to strong demand at generally dearer levels. With a few more vealers being penned local butchers and wholesalers were keen to source them. Once again yearling made up the largest percentage of the yarding that sold mainly to the trade, with feeder orders also active on limited numbers of steers and heifers. There were small numbers of grown steers, while increased numbers of cows continued to sell at lower levels.

Naracoorte’s Friday sale sold to solid South East and Victorian processor competition in a fluctuating priced sale, where early sales were basically unchanged, before lifting mid sale, and then retreating by the finish.

Naracoorte’s young cattle numbers fell but contained good quality runs that sold to strong demand from all of the regular buyers at mainly dearer levels. Any producer who yarded fresh quality vealers reaped the benefit of the strong competition. A supermarket order together with a NSW buyer back again sourced prime yearling steers and heifers with many having been supplementary fed, together with some grown steers. .

Mt. Gambier’s throughput remained similar with overall quality slipping on last week’s good quality runs. Despite this there was solid SA, NSW and Victorian trade and processor competition that left most categories selling at basically unchanged rates. Millicent’s yarding went against the trend to increase for its fortnightly sale and much earlier than normal.

Prices generally stable

While some young cattle prices were dearer, it was a generally stable week for export grades. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 182¢ to 238¢ at rates 2¢ to 15¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers followed suit as most to the trade sold from 182¢ to 237¢ or 1¢ to 10¢/kg dearer, particularly for lightweights. Yearling steers in mainly heavyweight runs of C3 grass and supplementary feds sold at basically unchanged rates between 172¢ and 204¢/kg. Feeder purchases of C2 steers ranged from 170¢ to 195¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were mostly between 168¢ and 194¢also at unchanged levels. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 and C3 heifers from 172¢ to 188¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were unchanged to 3¢ cheaper, as most C3 to C5 sales ranged from 176¢ to 198¢, with carcase weight prices mainly 325¢ to 350¢/kg. Grown heifers sold mainly between 156¢ and 175¢ at mainly dearer levels. Cows sourced by SA and Victorian processors tended to sell a few cents either side of unchanged, with D2 to C6 sales 130¢ to 172¢ and mainly in a 260¢ to 320¢/kg cwt price range. Restocker purchases of D1 and D2 beef cows were from 141¢ to 151¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

No rainfall on the radar

There has been no change in the rainfall fortunes with virtually none recorded any where in the state. For much of the Agricultural districts thee has been no rain recorded for the entirety of this month with only light falls recorded in southern coastal areas. A similar case remains in the northern pastoral regions where conditions remain very dry. The dry conditions in the north will have yet another negative impact as this year there has only been minimal fixtures of young cattle sales normally held in Geraldton. Subsequently there will be less pastoral cattle available from grass and stubbles in this region for the live export trade.

The dry, and up until recently cold conditions, have had a detrimental on feed growth. Many eastern produces have already begun to mow grain crops in an endeavour to recoup something with many now dying from water stress. Even those in the southwest that are presently enjoying reasonable conditions will need rainfall in the short term if they are to record a finish. At this stage though, forecasts are predicting little or nothing outside of fine weather for at least the next month.

Subsequently the numbers in physical markets remained solid with Muchea remaining the largest. Pastoral supplies continued at reasonable levels, while there was an increase in the numbers of cows offered. Heavy weight steer and heifer supplies were again limited in comparison, while there were similar supplies of grass finished yearlings. Store grades were also plentiful with larger vealer supplies penned.

Cow market looses ground

The dry weather has caused producers to “bail” out of livestock with a relatively sharp increase in the supplies of lightweight new season vealers. Agents have commented that if the dry conditions continue this trend with both continue and increase in the short term. This will certainly be pertinent in areas north and to the east of Mt Barker. If there is a positive to be taken from this situation both agents and commission buyers have commented on the strong inquiry that remains for lightweight cattle from the eastern states. The majority of vealers remained predominately of lightweight. Demand for steers was solid, while at times lightweight vealer heifers were difficult to sell. The volumes of trade weight grass finished yearlings remained relatively limited with some good quality drafts being offered. Demand from the local trade and restockers or feeders were firm in both sexes.

Heavy weight grown steers and heifer volumes were also negligible. Steer prices were similar while heifers again lacked processor demand. The solid cow yarding forced a retreat in local processor demand, despite eastern states processor activity recorded. The market subsequently lost ground throughout the week with lower prices recorded.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Strong demand

Despite a 12 per cent lift in supply at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS, demand remained strong, which resulted in most categories selling to a firm to dearer trend.

Young cattle continue to sell well, as good quality, and solid meat yields for the trade keep demand strong. As there is a short supply of vealers for the trade at the moment, particularly lightweights, prices were unchanged to dearer. Another factor behind the good results has been the demand from feedlots and restockers. There is, or will be as the weather warms up, an abundance of feed across the state and restockers are competing for a large range of cattle. Feedlots are also trying to keep up the quality of their purchases.

With the value of the A$ increasing to four year high, expectations were that export processors would be forced to reduce prices to maintain operating margins. However, this has not yet materialised with demand for grown cattle across all eastern states remaining strong. This in part has been driven by the tight supplies in northern states, pushing processors further afield to secure supplies.

There is also strong competition occurring at cow sales with the usual buyers operating. Extra orders have been evident at some centres pushing prices to higher levels. By mid week though, cow prices stared to ease at Warrnambool and Colac. Some of the price fall was due to a drop in quality.

Prices firm to dearer

The EYCI reached a 26 month high of 373¢ during the week, and settled at 372.25¢ after Thursday’s markets. The best quality vealers made to 239¢, and supplementary fed yearlings reached 216¢/kg. While the prices for supplementary fed yearlings appears lower there was not the quality penned as in the past. Most vealers made between 180¢ and 220¢ with grass finished yearlings ranging between 175¢ and 210¢/kg. Feedlots and restockers paid from 175¢ to 227¢/kg for well bred cattle despite ranging from plain to good quality.

Competition for grown steers and bullocks varied with interstate buyers not supporting all sales, which in part impacted on price trends. Grown steers sold to 200¢ as prime bullocks made from 178¢ to 194¢/kg.

Cow prices fluctuated, but at the end of the week the carcass weight average was close to last week at 307¢/kg. The strongest competition was for most classes of cows with only some very poor lightweight cows struggling to maintain recent prices. Good quality beef cows made from 148¢ to 174¢ with most others between 110¢ and 152¢/kg. The very poor quality low yielding cows made between 75¢ and 128¢/kg.

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