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 15 October 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

VIC weekly cattle summary

Reduced demand

With only a few exceptions, prices fell across all of MLA’s NLRS reported markets. Monday and Tuesday sales eased mostly between 2¢ and 8¢/kg with only the vealers and some supplementary fed yearlings selling at unchanged rates. However, from there on prices for all cattle fell mostly 5¢ to 20¢, one exception were heavyweight yearling steers to feed which averaged firm around 188¢/kg.

Most affected were markets that had solid outcomes the previous week, and grown cattle showed the larger of most falls. Processors indicated that they had to bring prices back as the value of the A$ continued to strengthen during the week, impacting on margins. Some buyers were instructed to only secure cattle at cheaper prices. Also aiding the cheaper trend was the return of Monday markets in NSW and SA which meant more numbers in these states.

Most affected was the Leongatha sale Wednesday, where bullocks fell 10¢ to 15¢/kg. A similar trend was evident for grown heifers and some cows, which were 6¢ to 12¢/kg cheaper. Other markets did not fair quite as badly, but these markets have already been showing a decline over the previous few weeks.

Although varying between selling centres, the overall numbers were down around 12 per cent. Some of this was a natural occurrence with Wodonga’s Tuesday market returning to more normal levels after the long weekend interstate. However, as the news got out about the large price falls, markets held later in the week were all reduced. Despite the cheaper trends, quality has continued to be of a good standard.

Prices fall

A reasonable number of vealers sold at unchanged rates, while yearlings were mostly cheaper. This impacted on the EYCI which fall 8.25¢ week on week, to finish at 364.50¢/kg cwt after Thursday’s markets. The best quality vealers reached 240¢ at Pakenham with most, better quality vealers ranging between 185¢ and 225¢/kg. Supplementary fed yearlings made from 190¢ to 228¢/kg.

Interestingly, the Japan Ox and cows realised little change across the Eastern states. This was predominately due to the northern states as Victorian grown steers were around 5¢/kg cheaper. Both Shepparton and Wodonga averaged around 178¢, but other markets sold to 174¢ and averaged closer to 170¢/kg.

As spring growth continues to improve, more cows are presenting in prime or are over conditioned, around 5 per cent of the cow yarding was in 5 or 6 score condition. Coupled with weaker demand, prices for the better covered cows lost between 6¢ and 12¢/kg. Leaner cows were also cheaper, by around 3¢ to 8¢/kg. The better quality cows made from 128¢ to 158¢, while most plainer grades were between 110¢ and 138¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 287¢/kg. Bulls were 6¢ cheaper heavy weights making to 178¢, to generally sell around 158¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Similar sized yardings

Not a good sale week for producers with all markets selling to a weaker trend as the increased numbers, a high A$ and processors difficulty in selling meat comes into play. Naracoorte’s 600 cows and 87 bulls at the previous Friday sale sold at lower levels as all but one pen of B muscled cows sold below 150¢/kg.

The SA LE’s larger yarding after a fortnight’s break sold to a weaker trend from the usual trade and processor buyers, while feeder orders were active on suitable lightweight vealer and yearling steers and heifers. There were also lines of pastoral bred yearlings, grown steers and some lightweight bulls offered.

Naracoorte’s Tuesday sale was slightly larger and featured some excellent quality B muscled Charolais cross, and well bred Angus vealers that attracted strong wholesale competition, albeit at generally lower rates even though quite a few sales including restocker purchases were over 200¢/kg. While the usual SA and Victorian trade and processor buyers and one supermarket were operating they were more selective, this allowing them to lower their rates on all young cattle categories. Grown steers were not immune to this trend even though a NSW order was operating again.

This trend flowed onto Mt. Gambier’s increased yarding, with vealers suffering the most as the usual Victorian trade buyers lowered heifer prices by up to 30¢/kg despite the very good quality available. Millicent’s numbers went against the trend to be smaller and featured many good quality vealers that also failed to maintain last week’s improved prices.

Prices retreat

Vealer steers to the trade sold between 185¢ and 219¢ on a mixture of C and B muscled light and medium weights, at rates 4¢ to 19¢/kg less. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 and B2 steers from 184¢ to 218¢, with some sales 6¢ dearer and others averaging around 10¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifer sales were most affected as most t that trade sold between 170¢ and 215¢ to be 8¢ to 19¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steer C3 sales were averaged 15¢ less as most sold from 165¢ to 194¢/kg. Feeder and restocker purchases of C and B muscled light and medium weights ranged between 170¢ and 208¢/kg. The C3 and C4 yearling heifers attracted prices mostly between 160¢ and 186¢ to be 6¢ to 14¢/kg lower.

Grown steers in good quality runs f C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights sold between 166¢ and 184¢ at prices 1¢ to 9¢ cheaper, and mainly 295¢ to 325¢/kg cwt. The C3 and C4 beef grown heifers sold mainly from 160¢ to 174¢, or 2¢ to 7¢kg less. Most beef cows were 1¢ to 10¢ cheaper, with D2 to C6 medium and heavyweights to processors 110¢ to 150¢ and mainly 260¢ to 290¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Wet in far north while south still dry

The far north of the state has realised solid rain over the past week bringing the promise of a solid and early start to this years wet season. Unfortunately this has not been the case throughout much of the pastoral districts where severe drought conditions remain. The season in the southern Agricultural districts have now all but finished. There was some light, but sporadic falls recorded across the weekend and early in the week, but most of these were isolated to the far south coast and most areas realised little or no benefit from them.

Feed and water levels remain low with many producers have already finished their hay production with some areas almost two months earlier than would normally be expected in an average year. Reports have been that production levels have been well down with most areas reporting cuts of 50 per cent.

Further to this producers have already utilised cereal and canola crops that were not expected to yield grain for hay, but many in industry still expect supplementary feed levels to be low. The dry winter and spring seasons this year has caused below average feed levels and with the dry finish to spring many producers continue to off load as much stock as possible.

There has been a constant turnoff of cows with many producers also selling their vealers as lightweights in an effort to try and utilise what feed levels they have. Many areas in the traditional cattle regions of the southwest are also plagued by low water storage levels.

Vealer demand remains

Saleyard numbers remained very buoyant and larger than would normally be expected at this time of year. There were solid supplies of new season lightweight vealers included across all markets. There were limited numbers of heavy weight vealers available and demand for these is remaining reasonable from both the processing and feeder sectors. Medium and lightweight vealers were again strongly sought after by the eastern states purchasers. The numbers of this years calves being sold to the east from paddocks also continues at very high levels. The volumes of grass finished trade weight yearling steers and heifers remained limited with supplies lower than the previous week. There was an increase in demand for the smaller supplies of trade weight finished yearlings with both steers and heifer enjoying dearer rates.

Grown steer and heifer supplies were also limit with the recent strong turnoff of local cows into processors and saleyards remaining high. The tight supplies of heavy weight steers and grown heifers recorded mixed demand throughout the week with overall values similar. The strong supplies of local cows recorded a weaker trend early in the week with prices towards the end recorded at more static levels.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Supply returns

With Monday markets returning this week and Tuesday markets also having larger throughput, supply at MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets increased 68 per cent compared to last week. The Casino yarding however was almost halved with numbers down across all grades due to some decent rainfall over the supply area. Dubbo also had a reduced yarding although there was a good supply of well finished grown steers and bullocks along with a decent yarding of cows.

Quality and condition has been varied with some young cattle beginning to enter the market at heavier weights, this is also affecting some liveweight price trends. The supplies of unfinished lightweight yearlings remains good, but not to the level of past weeks at some markets and restockers have continued to compete strongly on these lines accounting for 27 per cent of yearling steer purchases and 16 per cent of the yearling heifer portion. Feeders were also keen to secure yearlings; they were responsible for 52 per cent of steer purchases, most of them on them being heavyweight 2 and 3 scores. Competition varied throughout the week with quality determining some trends. At Tamworth on Monday, feedlot demand was slightly subdued even though southern Queensland was very wet and numbers would be limited. At Wagga feeders and processors were displaying strong demand for suitable young cattle. No southern buyers were present at Gunnedah and prices eased accordingly. Grown cattle prices have been impacted by the strong A$ and mostly eased accordingly. Medium weight cows defied the trend to average firm to slightly dearer, heavyweight cows eased but grown steers were most affected.

Prices show easing trend

Young cattle prices were generally cheaper given the increase in supply which is expected to continue to increase going forward but this may be disrupted, with extensive rainfall and maybe even some flooding predicted over a large portion of the eastern states.

Medium weight vealer steers to restockers averaged firm at 221¢ the few heavyweight C3’s made around 200¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers to processors eased 4¢ to 223¢ as the medium weight slipped up to 8¢ averaging between 196¢ and 213¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed made to 219¢ and averaged 202¢ as restockers mostly paid around 212¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed were steady at 198¢ and heavyweight C3’s to slaughter averaged 191¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers eased 4¢ to 5¢ to both feeders and returning to the paddock averaging around 190¢/kg. Heavyweights to process sold to 192¢ but averaged 8¢ lower around 176¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks were affected by the strong A$, although cows seemed to be less affected. Heavyweight C3 grown steers to slaughter eased 4¢ to average 180¢ as the bullocks averaged 176¢/kg. Medium cows were firm to 2¢ dearer averaging between 134¢ and 143¢, heavyweight D4’s eased 2¢ to 150¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Wet weather restricts supply

Wet weather once again restricted the movement of cattle across the state with supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS falling 42 per cent. Rain across a large area at the weekend substantially reduced numbers at markets early in the week. However by mid week with the ground just dry enough in places and produces very keen to market stock supply at some centres only fell 25 per cent, with two large consignments from Birdsville, and Tennant Creek helping to boost numbers. Buyer attendance was generally good with most export processors present and operating, along with all the usual buyers in the young cattle sections.

Young cattle continued to meet very strong support from restockers, feeder operators and local and southern processors. Calves and vealers heifers to slaughter managed to improved in value in the south-east corner of the state, however lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter across all markets eased 9¢ to 10¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock experienced a further 5¢/kg lift. All classes of medium and heavy weight yearlings generally sold to strong demand with only minor changes to average prices due to the standard penned.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter generally struggled to maintain the rates of the previous week and despite a lift in quality in places fell 1¢ to 2¢/kg. Cow prices fluctuated in some selling centres nevertheless despite the rising A$ values across all markets generally remained 1¢ to 2¢/kg either side of the previous week's levels.

More rain predicted will delay the wheat and barley harvest in some areas, and getting quality grain is now an issue for most growers.

Values varied

A relatively good supply of calves to slaughter averaged just under 220¢ and made to 229.2¢, while a few returning to the paddock made to 242.2¢/kg. The largest sample of vealer steers averaged 207¢ with a handful to restockers making to 236.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 6¢ better at 201¢ the occasional heavy weight reaching 228.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 5¢ dearer at 223¢ and sold to 239.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 189¢ and heavy weights 186¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to the trade, restockers and feeder operators lost 9¢ to 14¢, with most in the high 180¢ to mid-190¢/kg range.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged close to 180¢ with a few pens to 192.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 2¢ less at 181¢ with sales to 195.2¢/kg. A good supply of heavy bullocks sold to a market 1¢ cheaper at 180¢ with a few pens to 187.2¢/kg. Most of the cows were once again in the 3 and 4 score ranges. Medium weight 3 scores averaged 134¢ and good heavy cows made to 164.2¢ with most sales around 151¢/kg.

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