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 14 January 2011
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

WA weekly cattle summary

Larger saleyard supplies

The very top end of Western Australia saw very good rainfall recorded throughout much of the Kimberley region and down into parts of the Pilbarra. Pastoral areas further south have seen a generally fine week and clean up continues in those areas recently flood affected. Stock losses out of these areas are yet to be fully understood and this situation could take some time to resolve, but there have been reports that stations that had cattle de-pastured on southern properties had already begun to transport these stock back to northern runs with feed and water levels now both returning to healthy levels. Forecasts continue to predict that there will be a more active cyclonic season this year with a large tropical low again sitting of the northern coast and that this may have an impact in the next seven days or so. Despite some thunderstorm activity seen last week conditions in the southern agricultural regions remains dry with temperatures hot. Water supply levels have become critical in a great many areas threatening carrying capacity and forcing stock to be sold. Feed levels are also decreasing in most areas with supplementary feeding having already begun.

Saleyard numbers across the Ag districts were higher this week with a return to the normal sales format. There were very good supplies of new season vealers again forwarded onto the market for sale with demand for these continuing to be very strong. The recent good rainfall in the north of the state again saw a reduction in pastoral cattle numbers with this trend expected to continue.

Vealer demand sustained

There were very strong supplies of new season vealers seen this week. There was a good spread of numbers recorded throughout the classes with an increase in Mt Barker's overall weight due to the numbers of vealers sourced from southern coastal districts. Demand from local feeders and restockers, coupled with a strong eastern states demand, plus a solid live export interest in steer classes continue to see market conditions remain at very healthy levels with most classes seeing firm to slightly dearer rates realised. The supplies of prime trade weight yearling steers and heifers remained relatively tight despite larger numbers seen in markets. Local processor and feeder demand continued to be very solid in both steer and heifer classes with rates recorded at dearer levels.

The recent strengthening trend seen in prime heavy weight cow classes continued this week under a solid demand from local and eastern states processors with most sales higher between 5c to 10c/kg lwt. Store and plainer conditioned cow classes were again well supported by local and eastern states restockers with rates seeing a further strengthening on recent quotes. Lightweight bull classes saw an increase in live export demand with local and pastoral grades both seeing dearer values recorded.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

With all markets operating this week there were increased numbers offered. Mt. Gambier had 1,012 head for their export category sale that sold to strong SA, Victorian and NSW competition from the usual buying contingent in a fluctuating priced sale. Early sales for the grown steers and bullocks were cheaper when dentition was unknown, before lifting again when a couple of agents announced dentition and where weights and quality suited. Beef cows sold at basically unchanged rates, with bull prices being cheaper. The SALE's first sale attracted a mere 440 head in mixed quality runs that sold to strong trade and processor competition from the usual buyers at generally dearer levels. Local butchers and wholesalers were keen to source on the small number of vealers penned. Feeder and restocker activity was also strong for mainly light and medium weight yearling steers.

Cow prices were enlightening as they started to match the South East prices. Naracoorte's 1,070 or 286 head more of young cattle and grown steers sold to strong trade, one supermarket and processor competition at generally dearer levels, with some grown steers selling above the 200¢/kg mark. Feeder and restocker orders also came to the fore on vealer and yearling steers and heifers. Mt. Gambier's 1,880 or 208 head more of mainly young cattle and grown steers sold to very strong competition at generally dearer levels, with some grown steers and bullocks outselling many of the yearling steers. Millicent agents had a similar numbered yarding of 771 head that featured mainly vealers and cows that sold to strong competition.

Dearer trend

While some sales were a little cheaper, it was basically a dearer priced sale week as Victorian and NSW buyers struggled to source large numbers. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 195¢ to 225¢ on mainly B2 and C3 medium and heavyweights at prices unchanged to 10¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker activity on increased numbers were from 189¢ to 224¢, or mainly 2¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers were keenly sourced by the trade between 185¢ and 230¢, or generally 2¢ to 4¢/kg more. Yearling steer C3 sales were mostly from 180¢ to 210¢ on mainly heavyweights that were 2¢/kg dearer. Feeder orders sourced C2 ad C3 steers from 172¢ to 210¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were mainly 175¢ to 210¢ or 4¢ to 8¢/kg less.

Grown steers and bullocks attracted solid competition from 180¢ to 216¢ to be 2¢ to 8¢ dearer and averaging close to 350¢/kg cwt. Friesian steers sold from 144¢ to 169.5¢/kg also at dearer levels. Beef D3 to C6 cows sold from 131¢ to 162¢ at slightly dearer levels, and mainly 275¢ to 310¢/kg cwt. Dairy D1 to D3 cow sales were from 126¢ to 150¢/kg, averaging 7¢ dearer and 290¢/kg cwt.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Buyers come south

The massive floods in Queensland, northern NSW, plus some areas of the north east and western districts of Victoria have been devastating for the livestock industry. This is especially bad in the northern states, and although Queensland abattoirs are not normally in full process at this time of year, supply has been badly affected. Some sales have been cancelled in those areas, and some processors have been seeking supply further south. This was very noticeable at Wodonga, and the south east of South Australia. All markets in Victoria were dearer with a lot of cattle selling at rates 6c to 12c/kg dearer. MLA's EYCI calculations only commenced for 2011 this week with Monday's figure being 399.50c/kg cwt. From there the next two days the EYCI increased by around 5c a day, and by the close of trade Thursday it was 411.25c/kg cwt.

Prices for the top quality B muscle vealers have not leapt ahead, however these do not factor into the EYCI figures. However prices in northern NSW, particularly for vealers, jumped sharply and had the main influence on the EYCI. Cattle purchased for feedlots and those bought by restockers do factor into the EYCI, and coupled with processor purchases C muscle vealers, and yearling steers and heifers have averaged around 202c/kg lwt in Victoria. Supply increased by over 100 per cent with all markets returning for 2011, and producers selling with price expectation being very high. Some extreme prices were achieved compared to the previous week, and young cattle as well as grown cattle were affected.

Price open dearer

Prices for the best quality vealers have made as high as 231c/kg with all of NRLS reported sales within the mix. However, it is the medium to light weight vealers that have sold best with prices ranging between 190c and 224c for C muscle grades, and restockers paid to 240c/kg. With the much larger supply, came a lot of good to very good quality yearlings. Some of these were supplementary fed, making to 225c/kg. The large number of C muscle steers and heifers made from 180c to 221c/kg. What sets some of these prices alight was the weight of some steers that made as high as 212c/kg for yearlings to 600kg lwt. As processors try to ease their averages they are paying up to 197c/kg for some D muscle heifers.

There was a much larger supply of grown steers and bullocks sold. Grown steers made to 212c and bullocks to 207c with an average reaching 192c/kg. With processors bang in full swing, and supply less than normal, demand for cows was much stronger. Better quality cows made from 150c to 174c, and most others were between 113c and 148c/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 309c/kg. Restockers purchased a good number of cows between 128c and 160c/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Supply solid

With selling getting into full swing after an extended break cattle supply at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets increased significantly from the shortened trading week previously, numbers were also 41 per cent higher than the same week last year. Casino was the exception with heavy rain and some flooding in the supply area numbers were down but there was still a decent offering considering the adverse weather. The very strong prices to start the year may have also encouraged producers to send a few extra numbers to be sold.

Most yardings displayed excellent quality with plenty of young and grown cattle carrying weight and condition, 40 per cent of yearling steer and 23 per cent of yearling heifers were heavyweights. In the grown cattle section 64 per cent of grown steers were heavyweights or bullocks and a similar proportion of cows weighted over 600kg lwt.

Most of the usual buyers were present although some Queensland processors and feedlots were not active with some processing plants shut and transport options very limited as a result of the damage caused by flooding in the state. Feeder buyers were very active on yearlings with reduced supply from Queensland which may remain the case for some time, they accounted for 51 per cent of the yearling steers offered. Processors demand for vealers was exceptionally strong and this was most evident at Casino where medium weigh steers and heifers reached 310¢/kg. Restockers were active on suitable lines although many of the young cattle were too heavy or they were outbid by other buying sectors. Restockers purchased 19 per cent of the young cattle on offer.

Prices start 2011 strong

All the major grades started the year strongly with excellent buyer support given the supply difficulties in Queensland. Young cattle prices were pushed to record levels at some selling centres, after Thursday's markets the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) reached the highest point since August 2005 on 411.25¢/kg cwt.

Lightweight vealer steers and heifers to processors averaged 300¢ with the medium weights between 283¢ and 286¢, these equated to price increases of around 25¢/kg on last week. Lightweight yearling steers to restock averaged 232¢ and feeders paid around 221¢/kg. The medium weights to feeders averaged 216¢ while the heavyweights mostly settled between 205¢ and 214¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to slaughter averaged 212¢ as the heavyweights made around 201¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to go onto feed sold to 213¢ and averaged 202¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter reached 210¢ to average 195¢ and the bullocks averaged 191¢/kg. There was a decent offering of grown heifers which sold to 220¢ and averaged around 186¢/kg. Medium weight 3 and 4 score cows gained 3¢ to 4¢ on last weeks prices to average between 150¢ and 155¢/kg. Heavyweights were mostly firm averaging around 155¢/kg. B2 heavyweight bulls sold to 168¢/kg.

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