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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

12 November 2010
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

WA weekly cattle summary

Vealer surge continues

The northern parts of WA have experienced a week of very hot weather, while conditions in the southern agricultural districts saw a solid cold front cross the coast bringing good rainfall levels. The highest rainfall recordings were seen below Perth in and around coastal regions, while eastern wheatbelt areas also saw falls of up to 10mm. Despite the strong falls it is doubtful as to the benefit of this moisture will little or no runoff into dams reported. The rainfall also interrupted harvest activity and in some areas there are reports that there may no be some downgrading in quality because of the moisture. In many parts throughout the southwest it is doubtful, given the time of year and the condition of pastures that there will be any positive results seen here either. Feed conditions remain tight with the vast majority of hay production having now been completed. The poor seasonal conditions continue to pressure producers to off load cattle earlier than would normally be the case and all three weekly markets had very solid numbers penned once again with the Great Southern sale figures almost touching 2,800 head

The majoriy of numbers were again made up of strong vealer supplies with cow volumes also unseasonally healthy for this time of year. The volumes however of heavy and trade weight prime steers and heifer remained tight and some agents believe that this factor will be a problem for some processors over the next month or so until good supplies of grain finished cattle are available, possibly until the New Year.

Cow market maintained

As has been the case there were very large supplies of medium and lightweight new season calves sold again this week at all three weekly markets. Quality remained fair t average and this week saw a continuation of the very strong local demand from feeders and restockers seen throughout the previous week. This again had a negating effect on the eastern states orders that have operated in WA throughout much of the winter and spring. The ,limited numbers of heavy weight vealer steers and heifer enjoyed strong increases in values, while these rate rises were more tempered in light and medium weight sales. Despite remaining in limited supply the quality of trade weight yearlings remained reasonable. There was an increase in local processor and feeder competition that created slightly dearer market conditions.

Heavy weight steers, bullocks and heifers on the other hand saw relatively stable demand and rates paid. The solid supplies of cows again saw a good spread of numbers throughout the condition and weight classes. Prime heavy weight drats saw firm conditions, while plainer and lighter grades were again well supported by local restockers and eastern states competition with little or no change realised in rates.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Cows cheaper

There was only one certainty throughout most of the week, and that was cheaper cow prices. The only exception to this was the Pakenham cow market where demand was very strong and prices were strong for beef cows. Away from the general weaker trend for cows, prices for other cattle varied between classes, and also between markets. As expected, the supply of cattle lifted after the Melbourne Cup day affected week previously. Some of the best quality vealers sold at cheaper rates however, the general run of vealers were unchanged with lighter weights being dearer at times. It has been several weeks since one major supermarket returned to purchasing from physical markets, and this continues to have a mixed influence on markets. At both Pakenham and Shepparton markets, heifers put performed steers in particular categories suiting the supermarket, which in itself created dearer trends. Good quality helped to keep prices at recent levels, but processors will get some benefit from increased dressing percentages

Grown steers sold to mixed trends with price averages being unchanged to 2c/kg easier for a larger, and better supply of prime bullocks. Prices were discounted for extra heavy bullocks later in the week. A larger percentage of the cows penned were fatter 4 and 5 score grades, due to the very good season. This led to price falls, but most cows sold to cheaper trends, generally between 3c and 5c/kg lower. Restockers made an impact on prices for lighter weight beef cows, and also for a range of dairy cows. The carcass weight price average was lower at 290c/kg.

Vealers sell well

The highest price for top quality vealers was 233c at Wodonga, but there were few that made over 220c/kg this week. Most of the B muscle vealers made from 190c to 220c, but with demand being strong for other vealers prices were between 175c and 210c/kg for C muscle grades. Supplementary fed yearlings made from 185c to 212c, but there was a larger number of grass fattened steers and heifers that made between 178c and 205c/kg. All of this created a higher EYCI figure, which improved 4.25c week on week, to 367.75c/kg cwt. Prime grown steers made up to 192c with a range in prices for most steers between 178c/kg and that figure. Prime C3 and C4 bullocks made from 168c to 184c for an average around 174c/kg, but extra heavy and fatter bullocks were discounted. These made from 147c to 168c/kg.

Better quality beef cows, of which there was a good supply, made from 142c to 170c, but fatter 4, 5 and 6 score grades were anywhere between 116c and 154c/kg. Leaner cows were firm to cheaper with most making from 105c to 142c/kg. The carcass weight price average over all classes of cows was estimated at 290c/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

Mt. Gambier first split sale offered only 383 export cattle that sold to a weaker trend due to not all of the regular buyers being present or able to purchase enough stock. However, numbers increased at the SALE where 884 or 234 head more in mixed quality runs sold to the usual trade and processor buyers. While early sales struggled, with even feeder orders more selective with their purchases, it led to erratic trends. Small numbers of vealers sold to the trade at generally dearer levels, while the yearlings were generally cheaper. Grown steer prices were marginally dearer for mainly medium weights, while cow prices tended to fluctuate due to some restocker activity on some light and medium weights. Naracoorte’s 1,790 or 531 head more of young cattle and grown steers met with mixed fortunes from the regular SA and Victorian buying contingent.

A supermarket provided solid competition for prime yearling steers and heifers, while a NSW order was prominent on the grown steers after being stifled at Mt. Gambier. However, once those two orders were filled the other buyers generally lowered their rates on similar quality cattle by the finish. Mt. Gambier had 1,341 mainly young cattle for its Wednesday sale that had some buyers scratching their heads as to why the sale was spilt in the first place. There were some excellent quality vealers penned over a wide range of weights that sold to strong trade, feeder and restocker competition. Millicent had an increased yarding of 762 or 172 head more that also featured many excellent quality vealers.

Erratic trends

There were erratic trends as most buyers tried to lower their prices. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 190¢ to 227¢ at rates varying from 2c to 5c dearer and 4c to 9c/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 and C3 steers from 184¢ to 225¢ at rates 2¢ to 12¢/kg more. Vealer heifers to the trade sold mainly from 177¢ to 215¢ with a lightweight at 238¢/kg. This tended to leave most heifers selling at rates 3¢ to 10¢/kg less, with only isolated sales dearer. Yearling steer C3 sales ranged mostly between 160¢ and 190¢ to be unchanged to 11¢/kg cheaper. Feeder orders sourced larger numbers of C2 and C3 steers from 168¢ to 198.5¢/kg at slightly dearer levels. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were generally 155¢ to 196¢ or 1¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper. Large numbers to feeder activity sold from 166¢ to 197¢, with C3 sales up to 6¢/kg dearer.

Grown steer sales were 2¢ to 8¢ cheaper, with C3 and C4 sales mainly 165¢ to 185¢/kg and averaging 320¢/kg cwt. Cow prices eased by 1¢ to 10¢ with D3 to C6 medium and heavyweights selling from 128¢ to 160¢, or 265¢ to 305¢/kg cwt.

QLD weekly cattle summary

A larger supply

The continuing dry weather combined with recent values achieved for most classes lifted supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS by close to 37%. Several large consignments from Western districts helped boost numbers at the Roma store sale. Overall quality varied throughout most markets with all classes well represented. A full panel of buyers was in attendance at the majority of the selling centres, however not all of the export buyers were operating. Spirited bidding between restockers and feedlot buyers lifted prices across most categories of lightweight yearling steers and heifers, while butchers plus local and southern processors increased the buying rate on vealers and lightweight slaughter lines of yearlings. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers and heifers to feed generally sold to strong demand. Values for slaughter grades of medium and heavy weight yearling steers and heifers mostly sold to a strong enquiry.

Export slaughter lines of heavy steers and bullocks commenced the week meeting a cheaper market and this trend continued throughout the week, and many of the bullocks yarded at the end of week markets lacked yield resulting in prices continuing to ease. However the cow portion of the export slaughter lines went against this trend and despite the high A$ prices generally remained very solid, with only small adjustments in places due to quality. Restockers continued to be very active on plain condition grades of cows with PTIC lines attracting a premium price, as producers strive to rebuild the cow calf numbers. The quality issues for barley and wheat appear to be ongoing with the crop coming off in some areas are mostly in the lower grades.

Lightweight restockers dearer

Calves to restockers sold to the occasional 247.2¢, with both restocker and slaughter grades around 209¢/kg. Vealer steers made to 228.2¢ with a fair supply around 205¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 201¢ with a few to local butchers reaching 230.2¢/kg. A large number of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 3¢ dearer at 218¢ with the occasional pen of well bred grades reaching 240.2¢/kg. Lightweight and feeder grades averaged 209¢ and medium and heavy grades 191¢ and 186¢/kg respectively. Lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter averaged 2¢ better at 200¢ with some to 221.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade sold to 209.6¢ to average 182¢, and feeder grades averaged 177¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 180¢ with a few sales to 187.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged just under 179¢ and made to 187.2¢, while the bullock portion averaged 178¢ with sales to 185.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 123¢, and very large number of 3 scores averaged 135¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to the occasional 168.2¢ with most close to 151¢/kg.

NSW Weekly Cattle Summary

Numbers steady demand solid

The number of cattle supplied at MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets remained similar to last week with mixed trends across the state. Numbers were down at Forbes, Tamworth, Casino and Dubbo with some mixed farming operations shifting their focus to the harvest of winter crops. On the other hand Scone, Singleton and Armidale had significant increases in supply. More vealers suited to the trade helped boost numbers in the Hunter region while at Armidale there were some larger lines of lightweight yearlings best suited for restocking on offer.

Restocker buyers continue to lead the charge on young cattle as they look to get mouths on the ground and eating the abundance of feed most areas have. The desire for young cattle to return to the paddock meant in some cases plainer young cattle were achieving prices only marginally lower than the better bred lines. More young cattle suited to the trade entered the market with an excellent selection of prime trade vealers and yearlings at Wagga they sold to slightly cheaper prices which may have been die to heavier weights. Young cattle to process generally sold to strong competition, light vealer heifers improved 4¢ while C3 medium and heavyweight yearling heifers gained 2¢ to 5¢/kg.

Grown steers made up around 12% of the states total offering while cows accounted for 16%. Despite the tough export trading environment grown cattle prices were mostly firm to slightly dearer with supply the determining factor. Bulls were also in strong demand selling around 4¢/kg higher than last week.

Prices generally stronger

Most buyers were well catered for and demand was strong across all weights and grades of cattle. Calves averaged 250¢ after selling to 295¢/kg. Medium vealer steers back to the paddock averaged 233¢ as those to slaughter made around 223¢/kg. Lightweight heifers vealers to process averaged 3¢ dearer on 229¢ while the medium weights gained 4¢ to settle around 220¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers remain highly sought after by producers and improved 2¢ to 221¢ while feeders paid around 212¢/kg. Medium weights to all buyers were firm to 3¢ cheaper to sell around 199¢/kg. Heavyweight yearling steers to feed averaged 187¢ as those to kill made 185¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers averaged 192¢ as the medium weights to feed gained 3¢ to average 188¢/kg. Heavyweights to processors sold to 208¢ and settled 5¢ higher around 181¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed improved 3¢ to 5¢ to average between 177¢ and 180¢/kg. The heavyweights to slaughter remained firm around 177¢ with the bullocks easing 1¢ to 175¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows gained 2¢ to 141¢ as heavyweight D3’s were firm around 145¢/kg. The heavyweight D4’s were also firm averaging 147¢ after selling to 158¢/kg.

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