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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

18 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.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Yardings decline

As was to be expected with no markets on Monday due to a public holiday, throughput slid almost 40 per cent. The markets in Gippsland were also affected by the annual Mountain Calf sales. Of the sales that did operate, only Camperdown and Colac offered similar numbers as the others were all reduced. Vendors in the Wodonga supply area were also hampered in yarding stock by torrential rain.

The majority of markets included some properly finished trade and grown cattle, however overall the quality was not as good as recent weeks. The ongoing wet seasonal conditions have made it difficult for cattle to extract their dietary requirements for growth.

The regular field of buyers have been present including interstate orders as prices were firm to dearer, although some categories were cheaper. Very few vealers were offered with the steers mainly 3¢ to 10¢ dearer as the heifer portion lifted 5¢ to 10¢/kg. Most of the yearling offered were heavy weights which gained 5¢ to 7¢/kg. Heavy grown steers improved 5¢ as the bullocks climbed 3¢ to 6¢/kg. The cow price trend overall was varied as some categories lost 10¢ or more while others were firm to a further 5¢/kg higher. Direct to works rates have also been climbing with young cattle gaining up to 5¢/kg as the export lines were firm to a couple of cents dearer.

The annual Mountain calf sales were held in Omeo, Ensay and Benambra. The quality and breeding of the cattle was of a high standard. Competition was from feeders, processors, restockers as well as live exporters at one of the sales.

Prices generally dearer

Most of the vealers were purchased by the trade. Heavy B2 vealer steers to slaughter lifted 5¢ to 250¢ as the B3s topped at 268.6¢ to average 253¢/kg. The C3 heavy weights sold closer to 236¢/kg. Medium weight C3 vealer heifers mostly ranged from 229¢ to 237¢ as the B3s reached 265.6¢ to average 254¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling steers to slaughter sold around 223¢ with the heavy weights generally making closer to 221¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling heifers also to the trade made to a top of 247¢ with most around 219¢/kg. Most of the feeder and restocker attention was focused at the Mountain calf sales as they secured few yearlings or vealers.

The C3 and C4 heavy grown steers ranged from 214¢ to 217¢ with sales to 239¢/kg as their carcase weight price was mostly around 390¢/kg. The bullocks topped at 231¢ with a large number selling from 206¢ to 208¢/kg. Plain light dairy cows eased 2¢ to 121¢ as the D1 medium weights improved 2¢ to average 139¢/kg. Heavy dairy cows mostly made from 145¢ to 153¢/kg. Only a few beef medium weights were offered which made sold mostly from 139¢ to 159¢/kg. Heavy beef cows topped at 188.2¢ as the D3 and D4s ranged from 163¢ to 173¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Physical numbers increase

Weather conditions in the southern corner of WA have stabilised this week. Temperatures have been warm but cooler than what was experienced over the previous couple of months. Most areas saw fine and dry conditions with only isolated light falls seen n latter parts of the week in far south coastal regions. The northern pastoral regions however continued to see good falls of rainfall with the far north in the Kimberley seeing solid flooding levels. Seasonal conditions across most of the pastoral north are now well above average with solid level of feed now reported. In contrast to this traditional cattle areas in the south west have very low water levels not seen for many generations. There were larger supplies of cattle seen in physical markets this week. Muchea was the largest yarding, followed by the Great Southern with south west sale being the smallest of the three. As has been the case in recent times the volumes of young store cattle and vealers dominated the yardings. The supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks remained tight irrespective of the areas they were drawn from with this also the case in heavy weight mature classes. Trade weight yearlings were also sold in reasonably limited volumes in both grass and grain finished classes.

Cow numbers rebounded after the lower volumes seen in saleyards last week. Demand throughout the classes from the processing sector continued to intensify from both export and domestic operators. Feeder competition was again a strong contributor throughout many classes and this demand continued to strengthen as has been seen in recent times.

Strong demand seen throughout

Muchea's calf appraisal sale again had very solid numbers penned. Demand from local restockers, coupled with several orders from eastern states saw very strong rates paid with some agents reporting estimated lwt prices increase of 300c/kg. As would be expected at this time of year there was less weight available in vealer yardings with fewer heavy weight drafts forwarded for sale. Demand from the feeder sector continued at higher levels and both heifer and steer classes saw slight but definitive rate rises. Restocker demand was also very strong in both medium and lightweight classes with rates predominately in line with the previous week's quotes. Although in reasonably tight supply the quality of grass finished trade weight yearling steers and heifers remained reasonable. Local processor demand was recorded at equal levels with little or no change realised in over all averages for either sex. Heavy weight steers and bullocks realised an increased competition from the processing sector. Rates rose reasonably sharply with majority of rates dearer by as much as 10 to 15c/kg lwt dearer.

The cow market enjoyed another aggressive demand from the processing trade and this consistent rates rises throughout the classes with this also the case in heavy weigh bulls.

QLD weekly cattle summary

A lift in supply

A run of fine weather combined with recent high prices lifted supply 21 per cent at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS. Overall quality varied from centre to centre in the young cattle sections, while the standard of the heavy export grades was generally good. This was most noticeable at Longreach with plenty of cattle displaying excellent weight and condition.

Values at markets early in the week generally met solid demand with only minor adjustments up or down according to quality. Buyer activity in the young cattle sections remained strong, and competition on export grades was generally good, however demand overall on export classes was fragile. However by Tuesday at Warwick not all the export buyers were operating and heavy steers and bullocks to slaughter lost 2¢ to 5¢, and cows were also cheaper by 3¢ to 4¢/kg. Nevertheless at mid and late week markets the trend of a softening in export prices turned around. Values at Dalby for heavy steers and bullocks tended to improve as the sale progressed, and this improvement in competition continued at the Roma prime sale. Cow values followed a similar trend with a large number of good heavy cows improving by 2¢/kg.

Feeder competition also varied at markets early in the week, however similar to the export grades by mid week despite fairly large numbers being penned feeder buyers absorbed the increase supply plus lifted values in places. Supermarket and wholesale support on heavy yearling heifers was generally good, and also tended to improve as the week progressed.

Values improve

Calves to the trade averaged 227¢ and restocker grades averaged 244¢ with the occasional sale to 270¢/kg. Vealer steers to restockers were in demand and averaged 236¢ and made to 253.2¢/kg. A fairly large supply of vealer heifers averaged 2¢ better at 216¢ with a few to 239.2¢/kg. A large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at an average of 222¢ and sold to 254.2¢/kg. Medium weight feeders averaged 3¢ dearer at 213¢ and sold to 243.2¢, while a large number of heavy weights mostly sold around 200¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed improved in value by 7¢ to average 205¢ and sold to 224.2¢/kg. Slaughter descriptions in the medium weight range averaged 2¢ dearer at 199¢ and sold to 235.2¢, while heavy grades generally sold around 192¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 190¢ and made to 198.2¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 190¢ and managed to make to 200.2¢ while a few pens over 750 kg live weight made to 197.2¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 149¢ while the better 4 scores averaged 160¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to the occasional 177.2¢ with a fairly large number 2¢ dearer at 165¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Numbers up slightly

Cattle supply across increased 3 per cent with a few more numbers being drawn out at most markets. Forbes and Singleton recorded the largest lifts in supply with increases of 31 per cent and 41 per cent respectively while Dubbo had a reduced offering.

Quality and condition was mixed across the markets ranging from plain unfinished lines to excellent well bred lots displaying excellent weight and condition. Vealers made up 19 per cent of the states offering with a large majority being medium weights. Even with the grass in many regions dried off somewhat restockers remain confident which has been reflected in purchases. Almost 70 per cent of vealer steers were purchased to return to the paddock. Trade buyers secured 66 per cent of the vealer heifer offering. Feedlot demand remains very strong both in the south where there is a lack of suitable cattle and in the north with added competition from Queensland feedlots that are battling with wet conditions and cancelled consignments. Feeder buyers purchased 50 per cent of the yearling steers and 18 per cent of the heifers. Restockers were active on the light and medium weight yearlings, securing 28 per cent of yearling steers.

Grown cattle have been displaying plenty of weight and condition and sold to strong demand from export processors.

Over the hooks rates edged higher across all grades as processors compete to secure supply. Faced with strong prices at the physical markets, a number of contributors lifted rates between 5¢ and 10¢/kg cwt. Suitable trade yearlings in particular are in short supply with producers able to hang onto young cattle and grow them out to heavier weights.

Prices mixed

Prices were mixed as quality becomes more mixed at some selling centres. On the whole demand remains strong from all buying sectors. Lightweight vealer steers returning to the paddock averaged 267¢ as the medium weights gained 4¢ to 256¢/kg. Those to the trade were 8¢ dearer - averaging 238¢/kg. Lightweight heifer vealers to the trade were 6¢ dearer selling around 237¢ as the medium weights gained 2¢ to 232¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers gained 7¢ to 233¢ as the medium weights sold around 224¢/kg. Medium 2 score feeder steers ease 2¢ to 220¢/kg. Heavy 2 scores to feed gained 5¢ to 217¢ and the 3 scores eased 3¢ to 210¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to slaughter were steady making 215¢/kg. Light heifer yearlings to feed were steady on 211¢ and the medium weights made 214¢/kg. The heavyweights to kill gained 2¢ to average 208¢/kg.

Medium grown steers to feed settled around 200¢/kg. Heavy grown steers eased 6¢ averaging 201¢ and the bullocks were 3¢ to 4¢ cheaper around 194¢/kg. Medium 2 score cows eased 3¢ to 145¢ and the 3 scores were steady around 155¢/kg. Heavy 3 scores averaged 163¢ and the 4 scores made 168¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Smaller yardings

With no sale at the SA LE due to the long weekend, Naracoorte's small yarding of witnessed producers rewarded for yarding stock when many others may have taken the weekend off. This was particularly evident for producers who had invested in pastoral cattle from WA that also attracted strong demand due to the small numbers available.

The yarding sold to very strong competition provided by the usual SA, Victorian and NSW buyers even though some were stymied in sourcing numbers as feeder and restocker orders took over in many cases. Vealer steers were in limited numbers and sold to the trade reached 238¢ for C3 sales, with feeder and restocker orders nearly outdoing the trade in paying to 237¢/kg. Vealer heifers were marginally cheaper, although a couple of lightweights sold to 251¢/kg. Yearling steers including some HGP treated supplementary feds sold at generally dearer levels, while the heifer portion was slightly dearer. Grown steers were keenly sourced with medium weights attracting the strongest demand from three buyers and averaged just over 400¢/kg cwt. However, some heavyweight bullocks sold at 184¢ and 200¢ for 830kg and 793kg respectively.

Mt. Gambier's numbers fell as supply continued to wane. However, the sale followed Naracoorte's dearer trend, with most categories attracting improved prices. Vealer steers, lightweight bulls and cows attracted the strongest demand from the usual buying contingent. Millicent's yarding fell after last week's large run of grown steers and bullocks and will lead to fortnightly markets.

Improved prices

The smaller numbers offered triggered strong demand and improved prices as the regular buyers struggle to source supplies. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 205¢ to 261¢ to be 6¢ to 16¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restockers sourced C1 and C2 light and medium weight steers from 215¢ to 264¢/kg at much improved rates. Vealer heifers to the trade sold from 216¢ to 260¢ at prices 5¢ to 20¢/kg dearer. Feeder, backgrounding and restocker orders purchased mainly lightweight heifers from 220¢ to 251¢ at rates unchanged to 14c/kg more. Yearling steer C3 and B2 sales were from 225¢ to 245¢ with a B1 sale at 249¢ that left prices 9¢ to 13¢/kg higher. The C3 and C4 yearling heifers sold from 200¢ to 235¢ to be 8¢ to 10¢/kg dearer.

Grown steer C3 medium weights sold from 200¢ to 238¢ or 8¢ dearer, with heavy C4 and C5 bullocks ranging from 188¢ to 214¢ to be 3¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper. Most averaged 380¢/kg cwt. Beef D3 to C6 cows sold from 150¢ to 189¢, or 6¢ to 16¢ dearer and mainly 310¢ to 360¢/kg cwt. Dairy D1 to D3 sales were from 140¢ to 167¢ and averaging around 335¢/kg cwt.

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