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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

01 April 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

Increased numbers

The SALE yarded 601, or 65 head more, in good quality runs of mainly young cattle that sold to an easing trend provided by the usual local and interstate trade and processor buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were active for well bred vealers and yearlings, while shunning those with interesting breeding. There were smaller numbers of vealer steers with most selling to feeder activity. Feeder activity was also evident on the vealer heifers. Yearling steers tended to lose ground, with lightweights to mainly feeder and restocker activity, and the heavyweights to the trade. Yearling heifers followed suit as most sold to the trade. Grown steers, grown heifers and heavy cows were cheaper, with only medium weight cows to restockers and processors being dearer. Naracoorte's yarding increased by 362 to 1,546 head and was boosted by 393 young cattle, cows and heifers PTIC together with cows and calves at foot sold in the open auction sale. The liveweight sale lacked the input of one supermarket that allowed the others to lower their rates. However, the same couldn't be said about the open auction sale that attracted strong restocker, backgrounding, breeder and some live export competition.

Mt. Gambier's numbers increased by 343 to 1,774 head and also tended to attract a weaker trend due to the varying quality on offer. One highlight was the strong restocker inquiry for lightweight Angus vealer steers. Millicent agents yarded 1,200 or 930 head more in runs that featured a large number of Millicent's renowned bean finished yearlings that attracted very strong wholesale, feeder and processor competition.

Easing trends

There was a generally easing trend for most categories as regular trade and processor buyers tended to lower their rates. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 220¢ to 260¢ at prices 4¢ to 14¢/kg cheaper. However, feeder and restocker orders sourcing C2 and B1 mainly lightweight steers were generally 4¢ to 8¢ dearer selling from 217¢ to 269¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade and local butchers sold from 212¢ to 250¢ to be 3¢ to 10¢/kg less. Yearling steers sold mainly from 190¢ to 256¢, with most selling at rates 5¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases of mostly medium weights were from 192¢ to 228¢ at slightly lower levels. Yearling heifer medium and heavy C3 and C4 sales were from 190¢ to 235¢ or 2¢ to 3¢/kg lower. Pastoral bred heifers previously purchased from WA sold between 170¢ and 211¢/kg.

Grown steer C3 to C5 sales were from 186¢ to 238¢, with medium weights 3¢ cheaper and the heavyweights 1¢ to 2¢ dearer, and mainly 345¢ to 415¢/kg cwt. Cows continue to attract solid demand, with beef D3 to C6 medium and heavyweights selling from 135¢ to 184¢ or 1¢ to 6¢ dearer, and mainly 290¢ to 350¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Reasonable saleyard supplies

The northern and eastern pastoral regions of WA continue to enjoy very strong seasonal and feed conditions. Many areas that were in drought up until this season continue to rebuild their herds from the depleted levels they were run down to during the long dry conditions. Reports from the pastoral areas are of abundant feed and consequently good conditioned cattle. Conditions in the southern Agricultural districts on the other hand remain dire with yet another week of fine hot and dry conditions recorded. Reports of water shortages continue to grow in the south-east here feed supplies are also short and diminishing with supplementary feeding now a high priority for producers.

Calving activity has increased as is normal at this time of year in WA. Saleyard numbers remained reasonable with both Muchea and Mt Barker both having solid yardings, particularly this year and at this time. The south-east sale however remains limited in size. The supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers remained relatively limited in supply, irrespective of the saleyard. Trade weight yearling numbers were similar to the previous couple of weeks and were again relatively tight in supply also. As has been the case there continued to be solid supplies of vealers and yearling stores, while cow numbers in saleyards remained buoyant, which is not surprising given the recent very strong demand and market conditions. With the supplies of all grades of cattle tightening demand from all sectors of the market place remains very high with record prices continuing to be written in several classes this week.

Cows peak at 171c/kg

The volumes of vealer again accounted for the majority of total cattle numbers sold in saleyards over the past seven days. Quality and weight remain mixed as one would expect given the time of year and seasonal conditions. Demand from the feeder and restocker sectors remains very strong throughout the classes of both heifer and steer vealers with further rates rises of up to 10c/kg lwt recorded. This stronger local feeder and restocker demand and the subsequently higher values has curtailed much of the eastern states demand seen in WA for so long now. The quality of trade weight yearlings was also mixed. This however failed to deter a strong demand and competition from the local processing and feeder sectors which also recorded dearer rates for both sexes.

Heavy weight steers and bullocks recorded an increase in trade demand with all classes seeing solid rate rises recorded. This was also the case in heavy weight mature heifer sales. There was a reasonable quality and weight seen in this week's cow yardings. Processor demand throughout the classes rose sharply with record price levels never seen in WA's cow market having been paid this week for heavy weight prime drafts.

QLD weekly cattle summary

A massive supply lift

A return to fine weather and good prices across most classes lifted supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS by massive 15,000 head. Following on from last week's extreme wet weather prices due to the restricted supply of cattle the higher numbers created a market correction to more normal price levels. However calves to restockers went against this trend with the recent rainfall boosting the spirits of restocker buyers who pushed values higher by 3¢/kg. The remainder of the young cattle generally lost some of the previous weeks gains and the larger numbers of vealer heifers to slaughter allowed average prices to ease by 7¢/kg with only good quality lines still commanding a high rate. Slaughter grades of yearling steers and heifers lost ground in value by up to 10¢/kg in places. Nevertheless despite the large numbers of feeder descriptions averaged losses were confined to 4¢ to 5¢/kg as commission buyers were eager to fill client orders.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter at sales early in the week generally sold to a stronger market, however by Tuesday at Warwick with a few more 6 tooth grades included in the line-up average prices tended to ease. As more cattle became available at mid and late week markets the easing tendency flowed on to all classes of bullocks with losses of 4¢ to 5¢ on Wednesday and by late week markets losses of up to 11¢/kg were recorded. A small downward price movement also flowed on to the cows and across all markets for the week averaged losses were confined to around 3¢/kg.

Most classes cheaper

Calves to the trade averaged 234¢ while restocker grades averaged 151¢ with a few sales to 272.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to restockers averaged 249¢ some well bred grades reaching 265.2¢/kg in pen lots. Vealer heifers were well supplied and averaged 7¢ less at 221¢ with a few sales to 245.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to the trade made to 222.2¢ with most 10¢ cheaper at 197¢/kg. Medium weight feeder descriptions averaged close to 214¢ and made to 239.2¢, and close to 1,500 head of heavy feeders averaged 4¢ cheaper at 207¢ with a couple of pens of well bred grades reaching 223.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed were well supplied and only averaged 2¢ less at 204¢ with sales to 223.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 196¢ and sold to 204.2¢, while a relatively good sample of bullocks averaged 4¢ cheaper at 194¢ with sales to 203.2¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks sold in a range from 165¢ to 193.2¢ to average 3¢ easier at 181¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 1¢ cheaper at 144¢, while a fair selection of good heavy cows lost 3¢ to average close to 164¢, with a very occasional sale to 185¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Vealer demand strong

Records were again broken in Victoria, which was achieved at Bairnsdale for vealers. While it was only a single sale at 275.2c/kg or $1,029/head, there have been heavier vealers make up to $1,250/head. This was almost unachievable for bullocks not too long ago. Noted at all of MLA's NLRS reported markets was the change in quality. The cooler nights, lack of sunshine, and wet grasses are seeing cattle present in plainer condition, and processors are commenting on some poor dressing percentages. It was interesting to see price variations between markets with some of this variants created by quality, but two markets on the same day had opposite trends.

Overall, the number of cattle penned was unchanged with some markets larger, while some offered fewer cattle. With the exception of Colac on Thursday, which was cheaper, vealer prices were unchanged to 6c/kg dearer. Yearling steers and heifers old to mixed trends with prices anywhere from 5c dearer down to 7c/kg cheaper. Some of this was quality driven, but some was lack of demand.

Processors continue to have to compete hard with feedlots and restockers for a large range of weight, and description. It is now noted that processing companies are purchasing cattle to grain feed for the quieter months of winter, which is also aiding sales. There has been little change in prices for grown cattle, except to say that some very good sales were noted for lean cows, and bulls, best suiting the 90CL and 95CL US market.

Southern prices maintained

The EYCI finished Thursday at 418.5¢ to be 2.25¢/kg cwt back on last week, due almost entirely to more numbers in Queensland, following the wet weather money of last week which included the cancellation of the weekly Roma store sale. While the top price achieved at Bairnsdale was a single sale, there were a number of pen lots between 265c and 268c/kg lwt. Across the state most vealers made from 200c to 268c, and averaged around 237c/kg. Yearling steer and heifer prices varied anywhere between 180c and 245c for grass fattened cattle, due to the big variation in quality. Supplementary fed and grain fed cattle made 235c to 260c/kg.

Leongatha in particular, but also Wodonga and Shepparton were responsible for a good size penning of prime bullocks, which made from 190c to 220c/kg. Grown steers made to 238c/kg. Demand for cows remained very strong at most markets, which saw a range of good quality beef cows make from 165c to 188c/kg. Most other cows made from 120c to 168c/kg, which included a lot of poor condition, very lean 1 score cows. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 329c, with some sales as high as 341c/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

More cattle come forward

The states cattle supply increased 13 per cent this week at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets. Most markets had a few more cattle while Inverell, Scone and Wagga were down. The largest increase was at Dubbo with close to 2000 more head yarded. A large proportion of the increase was due to a large run of Brahman cows. The extra cows present at Dubbo did little to stifle prices with averages a couple of cents either side of firm.

The season is beginning to change with some areas and with some areas in the north of the state and the Hunter region having recorded little rainfall there have been reports that some young cattle have not been doing as well as expected. Buffalo fly, mosquitoes and three day sickness have also taken a toll on the condition of some stock. Although condition is becoming more mixed there remains some outstanding pens of well bred young cattle to return to the paddock along with those suitable to go onto feed or for slaughter. Most grown cattle are in good condition displaying good finish although quality was plainer at Singleton.

Demand was strong from all the regular buyers which helped sustain most price averages. However the increase in numbers and more cattle coming forward with some dry days in Queensland meant some categories could not maintain last weeks levels.

Over the hooks rates were held firm by most processors with more cattle expected to be offered in the coming weeks as Autumn sets in and if drier weather prevails.

Vealer values climb higher

A sample of good quality calves back to the paddock reached 317.2¢ and averaged 302¢/kg. Light vealer steers returning to the paddock lifted 8¢ on last week to average 279¢ as the medium weights gained 7¢ to 10¢ to mostly settle between 255¢ and 261¢/kg. Light vealer heifers to the trade eased 5¢ to 250¢ while the medium weights also to slaughter were 5¢ dearer around 240¢/kg. Light yearling steers to restockers were 4¢ cheaper making 231¢/kg. Medium weights to feed were firm on 223¢ as those to the paddock made 226¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter were 5¢ dearer settling around 221¢/kg. Light heifer yearlings to feed averaged 221¢ and the medium weights made 218¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter reached 240¢ and averaged 212¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders were 7¢ dearer, topping at 223¢ and averaging 206¢/kg. Heavyweight 3 scores to export slaughter were firm on 209¢ as the 4 scores averaged 220¢/kg. Medium 2 score cows were 6¢ dearer on 154¢ and the 3 scores were steady on 160¢/kg. Heavyweight cows were steady averaging around 167¢/kg lwt or 336¢/kg cwt. Heavyweight bulls mostly made between 159¢ and 169¢ with the top bull realising 185.2¢/kg.

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