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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

11 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.

WA weekly cattle summary

Lower market numbers

The northern pastoral areas continued to record reasonable rain over the past week with several rivers remaining under flood watch. Seasonal conditions in the north remain on track to be the best for several years with most areas now guaranteed good winter feed levels. This will potentially encourage pastoralists to restock following the drought of the past seasons.

The southern Agricultural Districts however remain fine, warm and dry with little or no rainfall recorded. Feed levels remain low throughout the majority of districts with water supplies in some areas continuing to hamper carrying capacity. Supplementary feeding continues with calving activity now on the increase.

There were lower supplies recorded in psychical markets with the long weekend seeing the cancellation of a sale in the southwest. Further to this Muchea and the Great Southern yardings were both lower.

As has been the case in recent weeks the numbers of pastoral cattle were limited. Heavy weight steer and bullock supplies remained tight with this also the case in grown heifer classes. Cow supplies which have been buoyant in physical markets recently, dropped sharply with a lesser quality also recorded.

Vealer supplies, primarily at the Great Southern, remained solid and combined with yearling store grades accounted for the majority of cattle offered. Trade weight yearling supplies remained tight in both grass and supplementary fed categories. Local processor demand remained high, while eastern states restocker orders remain ever present.

Strong market conditions remain

There remained good quality and weight available in vealer classes. Agents continue to report that the numbers of vealers will decrease sharply in the short term with most having been sold. Demand for all vealers remained very strong from the local feeder sector and this did hamper eastern states restocker competition. Values were again recorded at higher levels for all categories of steers and heifers. The quality of trade weight yearlings was reasonable. Local trade demand continued to be buoyant and subsequently both steer and heifer sales remained unchanged irrespective of saleyard. Store yearling demand was solid also again driven by the feeder sector.

The small numbers of heavy weight steers and bullocks recorded strong processor demand with little or no change to prices. Heavy weight grown heifer values improved under a stronger processor competition and limited supply.

There was less quality and weight in the cows offered. Prime heavy weight cows were again well sought after by processors and the market continued to record slight, but definite price rises. A lack of eastern sates processor demand impacted heavy weight bull values.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Cattle in demand

Highlighting the strength of the market across the eastern states reported by MLA's NLRS was the gains recorded to the EYCI. At the close of trade on Thursday it was 8¢/kg higher week on week after reaching 411¢/kg cwt which is the highest level for this time of year. Once again, a driving factor behind this outcome was the strong demand for vealers, and some yearlings with processors, feedlots and restockers all competing strongly for the same cattle.

While the vealer season is starting to wind down over most of the state, in Gippsland it is only just beginning. It is expected that some very good quality vealers will be offered at Bairnsdale in the coming weeks, and already prices there have reached 261.2¢/kg for heavy vealer steers. The need for cattle to turn out onto grass or by feeders is keeping competition at current levels.

The High Country weaner sales commence next week, and along with the usual buyers there are thoughts that some competition will be provided by live exporters. This has already occurred in some physical markets. Processors are also expected to be going head to head with restockers, backgrounders and feeders.

Grown cattle were met with some strong demand, but this was varied from market to market. Wodonga recorded losses of 7¢/kg for prime bullocks, but this was following a very high market last week.

Cows made up 23 per cent of the states offering and continue to sell very well in many cases beyond expectations. Heavyweight D4 cows averaged 172¢ or 332¢/kg cwt.

Cow prices fluctuate

Light and medium weight vealers generally sold between 200¢ and 248¢/kg. The best quality B muscle vealers made mostly from 235¢ to 261¢/kg. Yearling steers and heifers have had mixed results, which has been caused mostly by quality issues as some lines are displaying the signs of some cooler weather over the past few weeks. Supplementary fed yearlings made to 254¢, the pasture fed C muscle steers reached 246¢/kg. The majority of steers and heifers sold between 195¢ and 230¢/kg. Restockers paid to 259¢/kg for some lightweight yearling steers, and most purchases of steers and heifers were over 200¢/kg.

Producers trying to capture the high prices being paid for grown cattle at the moment and consequently are selling a wide range of weights and quality. This has resulted in a wide range of prices achieved. Grown steers ranged from 208¢ to 212¢ as most C muscle bullocks made from 192¢ to 215¢/kg.

Cow prices fluctuated, but most of the better quality cows made between 155¢ and 185¢ with plainer limes making from 125¢ to 162¢/kg. Lean 1 score cows sold very well with processors and restockers competing. This resulted in carcass weight prices average 324¢/kg cwt.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Grown steer numbers up

Cattle supply increased 10 per cent compared to last week at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets. The largest increases were at Forbes, Gunnedah and Inverell with the strong prices of recent weeks helping to draw some extra numbers onto the market.

The greater supply was absorbed with out placing downward pressure on prices. Yearlings in the northern NSW markets were subjected to particularly strong demand with Queensland feeder operators making their presence felt after widespread rain in Queensland meant many consignments were unable to be moved. Over the whole state 59 per cent of yearling steers were purchased to put onto feed and 47 per cent of the yearling heifers will also enter feedlots. There were several extra orders present at Scone which helped push most categories to higher levels. Supermarket, wholesale and butcher demand remained strong on yearlings as these buyers battle with restockers and feeders to secure supplies.

Quality and condition was mixed across most yarding with plenty of well finished lines along with plainer lines more suited to return to the paddock or be put onto feed. Grown steer supply increased 30 per cent largely due to around 1,000 head being yarded at Dubbo. The quality of some grown steers was reportedly not up the level of previous weeks. On the other hand cow throughput decreased seven per cent which helped maintain solid demand from export processors.

Direct to works rates for yearlings and grown steers remained unchanged with processors reporting that supply has been tight, although sufficient. Cow and bull rates received a further boost with increased demand for manufacturing beef.

Prices climb further

Large runs of medium weight vealer steers to restockers were 5¢ to 9¢ dearer with most making from 242¢ to 253¢/kg. Medium and heavy vealer steers to the trade generally made around 234¢ after the heavy weights topped at 265.8¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter were firm to 5¢ as restocking lines improved up to 4¢/kg. The lightweights averaged 231¢ as the medium weights mostly ranged from 230¢ to 236¢/kg. Light yearling steers to restockers lifted 4¢ to average 225¢ as feeders paid closer to 228¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders improved 5¢ with most making 222¢, however those to the trade eased slightly to 218¢/kg with heavy weights recording a similar trend to average 214¢/kg. Heavy weights to feeders sold around 212¢/kg. Light and medium weight C2s to feeders sold firm at 211¢ while the C3s gained 10¢ to average 214¢/kg. Medium and heavy yearling heifers to the trade mostly ranged from 207¢ to214¢/kg.

The medium weight grown steers were generally purchased by feeders from 198¢ to 203¢/kg. The C3 heavy grown steers improved 4¢ to 208¢ as the 4 scores remained at 201¢/kg. Bullocks were 3¢ to 7¢ dearer to average 197¢/kg. Medium D3 cows averaged 156¢ as heavy D4s sold closer to 167¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Numbers retreat

Numbers retreated d at the SALE, in a mixed quality yarding of predominantly young cattle that sold to strong competition at generally dearer levels. Only small numbers of vealers were offered with the trade paying up to 242¢, and feeder's 231¢/kg for the steers. Most light and medium weight yearling steers attracted feeder and restocker activity up to 229¢/kg at improved rates. The heavyweights to wholesale and processor inquiry were also dearer. The grown steers and grown heifers were cheaper, while the cows were dearer. Lightweight bulls to feeder activity set tongues wagging selling up to 202¢/kg.

Naracoorte's yarding was slightly smaller and included a few more pastoral bred Droughtmaster steers in very fresh condition and mainly off lucerne. The sale failed to maintain last week's improved prices in an erratic market that started off at mainly lower rates, before accelerating as it progressed. Feeder buyers were active with a mid Victorian feedlot very prominent on young cattle to background and feed on. However, while any older looking grown steer with unknown dentition failed to attract that much interest, the milk and two teeth steers including the pastoral lines sold to solid supermarket and processor competition.

Mt. Gambier's reduced yarding contained mixed quality runs that sold at fluctuating prices, with vealers and cows keenly sourced, while yearling steers and heifers together with the grown steers attracted a weaker trend. Millicent featured mainly grown steers for their fortnightly market.

Fluctuating trends

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 230¢ to 258¢, with a single lightweight at 264¢, with B muscled sales 2¢ to 12¢ dearer, and C2 and C3 sales 1¢ to 2¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders secured light and medium weight steers from 210¢ to 242¢, or up to 7¢/kg more. Vealer heifers to the trade were 3¢ to 11¢ dearer selling between 198¢ and 255¢/kg. Feeder order sourced C2 and C3 heifers from 190¢ to 234¢, or 3¢/kg higher. Yearling steer C3 and B2 sales were mainly from 195¢ to 242¢ at rates 1¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper. Restockers and feeders purchased a wide range of weights and quality between 165¢ and 228¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were generally between 187¢ and 226¢, or unchanged to 3¢/kg less.

Milk and two teeth grown steers sold from 210¢ to 231¢ to be 4¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper and averaging 390¢/kg cwt. However, heavy 4 to 6 teeth steers and bullocks sold from 192¢ to 205¢ or 2¢ to 11¢/kg cheaper and averaged 360¢/kg cwt. Beef D3 to C6 cows sold from 135¢ to 178¢, with dairy D1 to D4 sales 126¢ to 168¢/kg and generally 290¢ to 345¢/kg cwt.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Buyers active

Cattle numbers declined substantially at Roma after widespread rainfall across the Maranoa region, while the number of stock varied at other selling centres depending on the amount of rain across the supply area. Numbers at Toowoomba lifted to a higher level boosted by some feedlot consignments plus a few other lines from areas that only receive token falls of rain, and by mid week at Dalby numbers only experienced a small reduction. Nevertheless across the state at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS supply fell 26 per cent.

All the usual buyers were operating at most markets and the restricted supply early in the week increased competition on most categories. However by closing week markets despite a full panel of buyers present some were not operating as strong as previous weeks. Values for vealer heifers varied from the centre to centre and managed to finish the week 2¢/kg dearer. Feeder categories generally improved in price with medium weights 5¢ better while heavy grades gained up to 10¢/kg. Strong supermarket support against wholesalers and local butchers on slaughter grades of yearlings generally kept values close to firm, however by mid week values tended to struggle at times.

Heavy steers and bullocks commence the week on a firm to dearer trend nevertheless by mid and late week markets most did not find the same level of competition as previous weeks and prices eased on average. Cow prices followed a similar movement commencing the week improving in value while at mid and late week markets average prices tended to struggle to maintain the previous weeks rates.

Feeder grades dearer

Calves to restockers averaged 238¢ and made to 253.2¢, while trade descriptions mostly sold around 230¢/kg. Vealer steers to slaughter averaged 218¢ while restocker grades reached 250¢/kg. A good supply of vealer heifers averaged 2¢ better at 215¢ the occasional sale to 263.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers averaged 227¢ and made to 252.2¢/kg. Medium weight feeder grades averaged 5¢ better at 210¢ and heavy classes improved by 10¢ with most close to 205¢ with sales to 220.2¢/kg. A large supply of medium weight yearling heifers to feed across all markets held firm at 198¢ and sold to 219.2¢/kg.

A relatively small selection of medium weight grown steers to feed lifted 9¢ in value to average 189¢ the occasional pen to 208.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 191¢ while a fairly large sample of bullocks averaged 193¢, with a number of pens from far western districts of the state selling around 198¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 148¢, and 4 scores averaged 160¢/kg. Good heavy cows across all markets for the week remained firm at 163¢ with the occasional sale to 178.6¢/kg. A fair sample of heavy bulls mostly sold close to 168¢ with a few well bred grades reaching 179.2¢/kg.

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