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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

04 March 2011
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

SA weekly cattle summary

Similar numbers

The SA LE's numbers almost doubled in mixed quality runs that sold to fluctuating demand coming from the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were more circumspect with their purchases, with lightweight vealers and yearling steers and heifers being dearer, while losing ground on the medium weight yearlings. Yearling steers to the trade were basically unchanged, while the heifer portion sold erractically. The grown steers in small numbers were marginally cheaper, with the grown heifers dearer. Cow prices were erratic due to some restocker influence, while being cheaper for the D3 medium weights and dearer for heavy weights.

Naracoorte's reduced numbers sold to one of the strongest sales witnessed, as the operating buyers lifted their prices on just about all categories. Prime vealer steers and heifers benefited from an additional Adelaide order. Supplementary fed yearling steers from Eudunda sold at 243¢/kg, with some yearling heifers reaching 235¢/kg. The only exception being 4 and 6 teeth steers and bullocks from a wide range of regions that failing to attract any solid bidding. Any steers and bullocks whose dentition was known and where weights suited were keenly sourced by a supermarket, processors and wholesalers up to 235¢/kg. There was anything from 20¢ to 40¢/kg variation between mouthed cattle and others of unknown dentition.

Mt. Gambier's yarding was slightly less and like Naracoorte sold at dearer levels to the regular buying contingent. Feeder and restocker orders were also active on small numbers. Millicent's reduced numbers were generally of mixed quality.

Most categories dearer

It was a week of generally dearer prices as buyers struggled to source sufficient kill numbers. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 193¢ to 252¢ at prices mainly 3¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker activity sourced C1 and C2 vealer steers from 208¢ to 245¢/kg, also at dearer levels. Vealer heifers to the trade sold mainly between 200¢ and 250¢ to be 5¢ to 11¢/kg dearer. Yearling steer C3, B2 and B3 sales of mainly heavyweights were from 200¢ to 243¢ with supplementary feds at the higher end, to be 2¢ to 10¢/kg more. Feeders and restockers purchased C2 and C3 steers from 170¢ to 225¢ at rates unchanged to 9¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were from 173¢ to 235¢ or 8¢ to 10¢/kg higher.

Milk and two teeth grown steers sold from 205¢ to 235¢ or 3¢ to 4¢ dearer and mainly 380¢ to 410¢/kg cwt. The 4 to 6 teeth and unknown dentition sold from 160¢ to 205¢ at slightly lower rates, and generally 320¢ to 365¢/kg cwt. The D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 135¢ to 178¢ at prices unchanged to 6¢ cheaper, and mainly 285¢ to 335¢/kg cwt.

QLD weekly cattle summary

A small increase in supply

Yardings varied from centre to centre nevertheless across all markets covered by MLA's NLRS supply increased 7 per cent. The lift in values experienced the previous week encouraged a few more cattle into the market in places, and despite this, values continued to climb for a number of classes. This trend was most noticeable as the week progressed and by late end of week market at Roma buyers easily absorbed the extra supply plus increased prices across most categories.

Buyer attendance continues to be good with most of the major export processors included in the buying panel, plus the regular contingent of butchers and wholesalers along with supermarkets, feeder operators and restockers.

Restockers remained very active on the calves and lightweight yearling steers and average prices improved 5¢ to 8¢/kg. Vealer heifers experienced a mixed trend with the lightweight lines improving 5¢, however the heavy grades to local butchers eased 3¢ off the high levels experienced in previous weeks. Feeder grades at markets early in the week varied according to quality, however by mid week markets regardless of a fairly good supply average prices improved by 6¢/kg on the heavy end of the yearling steers. Feeder grades of yearling heifers received improved competition, and strong supermarket support on slaughter grades lifted prices 7¢/kg.

A combination of supermarket competition and export processor demand lifted average prices for heavy steers in places by up to 9¢/kg. Bullocks also enjoyed a lift in values with a relatively good sample averaging 3¢/kg better. Cows also shared in the rising market with average prices 2¢ to 3¢/kg dearer.

Export cattle improve further

Calves to the trade averaged 231¢ while those returning to the paddock averaged 247¢ after making to 266.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to slaughter mostly sold around 222¢ with some sales to 250¢/kg. Vealer heifers sold to processors 5¢ dearer at 216¢ the occasional sale to 243.2¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling steers to restockers averaged 8¢ better at 227¢ and sold to 242.2¢/kg. Medium weight grades to feed averaged 205¢ and made to 225.2¢/kg. Heavy grades to feed mostly sold around 195¢ and made to 213.2¢, while a fair supply of slaughter descriptions around 202¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 198¢, and slaughter grades gained 7¢ to average 197¢, and heavy classes gained a similar amount to average 191¢/kg.

Heavy steers to the supermarket trade plus export slaughter averaged 188¢ and sold to 205¢/kg. Bullocks also made to 205¢ to average 3¢ better at 192¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks sold around 182¢ with sales to 188.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 127¢ and 3 scores improved 2¢ to average 145¢/kg. A large selection of good heavy cows averaged 3¢ dearer at 163¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Young cattle dominate

Even though there was supply variation across markets, overall throughput at MLA's NLRS reported markets was unchanged on last week. When compared to the corresponding period last year, the number of cattle offered was almost 6 per cent greater. Slaughter levels during February increased 2 per cent on the same period last year, but remained 4 per cent below the five year average.

All buyers have been present and active with prices at or near record levels. There was increased buyer competition at Wagga as a live export order was evident on suitable lightweight steers. Prices have continued to climb across all categories as competition between buyers remains very strong. When compared to this time last year prices across the indicator grades are 12 per cent to 21 per cent higher with the largest gains being realised for the yearlings. This trend has flowed on to the EYCI which after Thursday's markets was 403¢/kg cwt which is the highest point since late January 2011. It is 7.25¢/kg cwt above last week and 17 per cent above year ago levels.

Quality has been mixed with all categories represented with prime finished cattle for slaughter selling well to local butchers, wholesalers, supermarkets and exporters. Producers have been tempted by the current prices and have offloaded unfinished or light cattle which have been suited to the restockers and feeders.

Young cattle accounted for 65 per cent of the total yarding with yearlings dominating. Restockers secured most of the yearling offered as 19 per cent returned to the paddock and 33 per cent went to slaughter. Almost half of the grown cattle were cows as grown steers represented 33 per cent.

Strong competition

Most of the calves to restockers ranged from 257¢ to 272¢ with an isolated sale to 364¢/kg. Light vealer steers returning to the paddock ranged from 243c to 263c/kg as the medium weights mostly made from 232¢ to 248¢/kg. Good B muscle heavy weights to slaughter ranged from 238¢ to 240¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to the trade ranged from 227¢ to 229¢ with restockers paying closer to 227¢/kg. Light yearling steers to restockers and feeders made mostly from 220¢ to 227¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders gained 6¢ - to 218¢ as those to restockers lifted 5¢ - to 215¢/kg. Good C3s to the trade averaged 221¢ to be 7¢/kg dearer. Large numbers of heavyweights to feeders were 7¢ dearer with most making from 212¢ to 215¢ as the trade paid closer to 217¢ which was 8¢/kg higher. Most of the yearling heifers were 2¢ to 7¢/kg dearer. Medium weights to feeders averaged 212¢ as medium and heavyweights to slaughter sold closer to 210¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders lifted 6¢ to average 193¢/kg. Heavy steers to slaughter gained 2¢ to 10¢ with a number of pens making over 230¢ with most making from 203¢ to 205¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows averaged 157¢ to be 9¢ dearer as heavy D4s sold closer to 164¢ after making to 176¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Strong season in north

The Kimberley and far northern parts of the state continue to enjoy a very solid wet season with further flood warnings again for parts of the Murchison and Gascoyne areas. This will set these areas up for a good season with winter feed levels expected to be very high. Thunderstorms activity has been wide spread throughout much of the state due to the very hot temperatures across the state, coupled with the moist and tropical humidity levels.

The majority of the southern Agricultural districts remained fine and dry with only limited rain in most areas and this was due to patchy thunderstorm activity. Feed levels remain tight with supplementary feeding an ongoing necessity.

Calving activity continues to increase with many now on the ground already throughout the southern areas. The better seasonal conditions in the northern pastoral areas continues to stimulate restocking in these parts also, given the drought conditions that have been endured over the past years.

Numbers at physical markets remained buoyant at all markets, but despite this many agents believe that this will be short lived, expecting limited supplies throughout much of the winter months. The strong demand from the eastern states, live export and feeder sectors for young cattle in recent months is also expected to impact grass finished turnoff in the spring. This is due to local restockers being hampered by the competition from all other sectors. The numbers of prime grass cattle offered at prime markets remained limited irrespective of weight or age with young store grades remaining in good supply.

Further price gains

Despite there being reasonable numbers of vealers available at physical markets, quality continued to remain very mixed with solid supplies of lightweight plain store grades offered. The demand for vealers from local and eastern states areas remained very strong with very firm market conditions recorded. Feeder demand drove prices on medium and heavier vealer steers and heifers, while restocker activity on lightweights continued to stimulate very solid price. Despite being sold in relatively tight numbers there remained a reasonable quality in both trade weight yearling steers and heifers. These attracted an increased local trade and feeder competition that created rate rises of up to 10c/kg lwt on average in both sexes.

Heavy grown steer and bullock numbers were limited as they have been all year. These also enjoyed increased demand and higher prices. Cow supplies were again reasonable and continued to account for a large percentage of the market. With pregnancy testing and the turnoff of dry cows quality was also reasonable. Prime heavy weight grades recorded slightly stronger competition with prices marginally dearer, while plainer and lighter grades again enjoyed solid processor and restocker demand, particularly on younger grades.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Strong demand

Overall, there was very little change recorded to state throughput across all of MLA's NLRS reported markets. Despite Wodonga recording a large jump in supply this could not negate the reduced numbers across the majority of other centres. When compared to year ago levels, the total yarding was down 22 per cent.

Demand has been very strong with feeders and restockers making their presence felt at all centres. There was also the inclusion of live export interest on young cattle at prime markets as well as store sales. When combined with processor competition, it was inevitable that prices were going to climb.

Vealers and yearlings were 3¢ to 10¢/kg dearer to all sectors and this trend was similar to the other eastern states. This resulted in the EYCI climbing to its highest level since late January 2011, to be 403¢ at the completion of Thursday's markets which was 7.25¢/kg cwt higher week to week.

Heavy grown steers were 8¢ to 9¢ dearer however going against the trend were bullocks which were firm to 2¢/kg cheaper with large numbers offered. Leaner medium weight cows were also slightly cheaper as the better covered lines held firm. Most of the heavy cows also eased. Some of the price falls were due to a decline in quality. Prices however remain well above year ago levels.

It is only a couple of weeks until the renowned Mountain Calf sales and if the recent prices at store and prime markets are any indication, the cattle offered should sell well.

Young cattle dearer

Large numbers of heavy B muscle vealer steers gained 7¢ with most making from 234¢ to 245¢/kg selling to the trade. The C muscle lines meet good demand to be 6¢ to 9¢ dearer to range from 230¢ to 234¢/kg. The top of the vealer steers reached 257¢/kg at Bairnsdale with large lines of well bred and finished vealers expected to be offered in the coming weeks. Vealer heifers made to 260¢ as medium weight C3s averaged 233¢/kg. Heavy B muscle vealer heifers sold closer to 242¢ as the C3s averaged 229¢/kg. Yearling steers and heifers continued to sell very well with most sales between 195¢ and 225¢/kg. Heavy B muscle steers made to 248.6¢/kg.

Heavy C3 and C4 grown steers generally ranged from 214¢ to 216¢ after selling to a top of 236¢/kg. Most bullocks sold from 202¢ to 205¢ as the heavy bullocks most sold in the early 190¢/kg range. Despite some cow categories realising a cheaper trend, due to quality, prices are still historically high. Plain medium weight dairy cows averaged 132¢ as medium weight D3 beef cows averaged 161¢/kg. Most of the heavy dairy cows ranged from 146¢ to 160¢ as the better beef cows made into the 180¢ range with the D4s averaging 170¢/kg.

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