Australian Cattle Summary: Prices Continue To Fall

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 13 May 2011
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

SA weekly cattle summary

Numbers fall

It was not another good week for producers despite the falling numbers, as the operating buyers lowered their rates even further. The large numbers being offered direct and a high A$ being the main reasons bandied around.

The SAL E's numbers went against the trend and rose for a mixed quality runs of local and pastoral bred cattle that sold to soft competition from the usual trade and processor buyers, with one regular Victorian buyer absent.

Naracoorte's numbers fell after last week's combined numbers reached 3,650 head after Friday's cow and bull sale. This sale was also not immune to prices falling further due to the limited competition coming from a small number of regular operating SA and Victorian buyers that was exacerbated by the absence of a NSW order. Feeder and restocker orders were also able to source more numbers and some more weight, as they followed the lower prices being paid.

Mt. Gambier's numbers fell quite sharply following the weaker prices paid at last week's market. However, even with the smaller numbers being offered only isolated sales were dearer where quality suited, as most categories attracted a weaker trend to restricted trade, local butcher and processor competition.

Millicent's numbers fell to a rather small yarding for its fortnightly sale, with this sale also following the lower prices being paid at other centres reported by MLA's NLRS.

Prices Continue to Retreat

It was another week of retreating prices, with only isolated sales dearer where quality suited. Vealer steers to the trade and local butchers sold from 200¢ to 235¢ to be mainly 10¢ to 27¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced increased numbers from 180¢ to 232¢/kg also at much lower levels. Vealer heifers followed suit as most to the trade sold from 182¢ to 233¢ to be unchanged to 20¢/kg less. Yearling steer C3 medium and heavyweights sold generally from 170¢ to 205¢ at prices averaging 30¢/kg lower. Pastoral bred steers sold from 165¢ to 210¢/kg also at unchanged prices. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales ranged mostly between 160¢ and 210¢ to be 14¢ to 27¢/kg cheaper. Pastoral bred heifers sold from 116¢ to 190¢/kg on the increased numbers offered.

Grown steers with most being medium weights sold from 168¢ to 191¢/kg to be around 10¢ cheaper, with a few heavyweights unchanged and averaging 320¢/kg cwt statewide. The D2 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 110¢ to 148¢ at rates another 4¢ to 10¢/kg less. Dairy D1 to D4 sales were from 98¢ to 138¢ at slightly dearer levels, with most cow's returning 220¢ to 290¢/kg cwt.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Numbers come back

Cattle throughput at the physical markets as reported by MLA's NLRS contracted 26 per cent, as the majority of sales penned fewer head. Wagga supply suffered the biggest loss as numbers were back 48 per cent, while supply fell 36 per cent at Dubbo. Driving the reduced turnoff was the easing price trend evident since Easter, with producers in some regions choosing not to offload stock. Supply was also overstated last week, mainly as a fair few markets commenced selling after a two week break.

The first real signs that winter is around the corner were realised this week, with temperatures plummeting on the Tablelands, causing some light snow falls. Frosts are becoming more apparent in certain regions, which will further contribute to the fading seasonal conditions. Despite the cooler weather the condition of young cattle in the physical markets was fair to good, with plenty of C2 and C3 lines presented. Contrary to this ample numbers of plainer conditioned yearlings were available, with producers continuing to offload secondary lines before winter. Cow numbers were again respectable, as the D3 and D4 heavyweights dominated numbers.

Direct to works cattle rates were lower, as processors wound them back in response to the cheaper prices in the physical markets. Processors have reportedly booked in a good amount of cattle for the coming weeks, which has further reduced demand for prime cattle. The high A$ is also influencing the market as some processors have adopted a wait and see approach. Feeder prices dropped for the medium and long fed categories, while domestic rates remained fairly stable across NSW.

Further price falls

Restocker orders were active on suitable yearlings and vealers, signalling that producer confidence is strong with winter just around the corner. Light vealer steers to restockers were up to 14¢ cheaper, mainly selling from 225¢ to 238¢/kg. Vealer heifers returning to the paddock topped at 237¢ and averaged around 211¢/kg. Yearlings steers to restock mostly averaged 207¢, while the heifer portion was back on 196¢/kg. Yearling steers to feeders sold from 190 to 212¢ as sales averaged firm to 7¢/kg cheaper. Medium weight heifers to feeders slipped 13¢ to 199¢, while the portion to the trade sold up to 3¢ lower, ranging from 185¢ to 199¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling steers eased 10¢ to 189¢, while heavy C3 heifers averaged around 180¢/kg.

Grown steers to feedlot orders ranged from 170¢ through to 185¢ and were up to 6¢/kg cheaper overall. The better quality pens destined for slaughter were also 6¢ lower, as the medium weight C3 settled on 172¢/kg. Heavy C3 bullocks slipped 15¢ to 175¢, while the limited number of C4 pens averaged 163¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows dropped 4¢, as most sales were from 132¢ to 139¢/kg. Heavy D4 lines were 8¢ cheaper on 138¢, after sales topped at 152¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Demand dives

Throughout the week there have been some big price adjustments over all classes of cattle. If there were any highlights, it was the high prices achieved at some selling centres for top quality vealers, and that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. As the previous week unfolded, there was a big difference seen between Monday markets, and the remainder of the week. This indifference was certainly rectified this week with most markets reported by the NLRS recording price falls of between 10c and 30c/kg lwt. All classes of cattle were affected by this, and although some of the blame stems from poor quality, most was due to weaker demand. The EYCI finished the week 9c lower at 389c/kg cwt, with NSW and Queensland cheaper by a lessor extent.

Supply fell dramatically at most sales, with only Wodonga's Tuesday sale larger by comparison. While it was difficult for auctioneers to get much enthusiasm from what buyers did attend the sales, some vealers sold very well.

There was some solid competition from feedlots and restockers who took the opportunity to purchase numbers while prices were down. This forced processors along at times. Interestingly, the Thursday markets of Bairnsdale and Colac saw improvements in prices. This has occurred earlier than some had expected, as the over supply at the abattoirs was not expected to ease until late next week. The price increases were not large, being mainly 2c to 8c/kg better.

Prices dip

Bairnsdale agents offered several pens of very good quality B muscle vealers, which made from 240c to 267c/kg, which was equalled by Pakenham for single sales. However, a number of very good quality vealers were penned at Wodonga, with B muscle vealers making from 200c to 235c/kg. Most of the C muscle vealers sold over all markets made between 185c and 235c/kg. Big discrepancies were seen over prices for better quality yearlings with steers making anywhere between 153c and 229c/kg. Most of the higher prices were paid for supplementary fed steers with the average price around195c/kg. Good quality heifers made from 160c to 190c for most with supplementary fed to 230c/kg. Most affected by the reduction in supply were grown steers, especially prime bullocks. Prices were from 158c to 190c, but the average was only 173c/kg.

Cow prices were mostly 3c to 15c cheaper, although some very poor, lightweight cows were much lower making only 35c to 105c/kg. Most cows made between 118c and 158c, and the carcass weight price average fell to an estimated 270c/kg. A large number of poor quality yearlings and older steers and heifers only made from 145c to 175c/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Reduced numbers

The supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS varied from centre to centre. The first sale for three weeks in Toowoomba attracted a fairly large yarding. However early in the week as a widespread rain event moved across a large portion of the state this impacted overall supply which fell 37 per cent.

Quality in places was mixed with a larger percentage of calves and vealers at Warwick starting to slip in condition. Buyer representation at most markets was good and included the majority of the export processors, along with the normal panel of feeder operators, plus a large contingent of restockers.

Values for lightweight cattle returning to the paddock continued to be strong especially the steer portion, and some of this support flowed onto the well bred heifer portion suitable for rebuilding the breeding herd. However slaughter grades of vealer heifers went against this trend and average values fell 7¢/kg. Values for feeder grades at early week markets continued their downward price correction however as the week progressed prices tended to turn around and by mid week at Dalby average prices for heavy yearling steers to feed improved 3¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter met a softer market early in the week nevertheless by mid and late week markets values tended to regain some of the recent falls to experience improvements of 2¢ to 3¢/kg. Cows followed a similar trend hovering around the previous weeks levels at early markets and improved 2¢ to 4¢ by mid week.

Grown steers dearer

The vast majority of the calves penned returned to the paddock at an average of 231¢ with sales to 259.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to feed and restockers generally sold in the 220¢/kg range with some returning to the paddock making to 250.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter lost 7¢ with a fair supply around 196¢ while a handful of top end quality lines sold to local butchers at 233.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers at a top of 245.2¢ with a relatively large selection around 222¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 196¢ and a large sample of heavy weights averaged 186¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers returning to the paddock made to 214.2¢ while feeder grades averaged 195¢/kg. Medium weight feeders averaged 188¢ and small numbers of slaughter averaged 182¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 2¢ better at 179¢ with sales to 185.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter improved 5¢ to average 175¢ with some to the wholesale meat trade at 184.6¢/kg. Bullocks also managed to improve to 173¢ with a few pens reaching 183.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 4¢ better at 120¢ while 3 scores generally sold around 131¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 158.2¢ to average 148¢/kg.

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