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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

27 May 2011
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - In Victoria there was mixed supply, in Queensland rain affected supplies, while numbers slipped in New South Wales and South Australia saw increased numbers according to the weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state from Meat & Livestock Australia.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Mixed quality

Markets reported by MLA's NLRS were larger overall by just over 30%, as the quality was quite mixed which is to be expected at the time of year. There remains a good supply of properly finished cattle for processors. There was a big contrast, from the beginning to the end of the week in regards to demand and subsequently prices. May has traditionally been the low point of the year for prices before climbing steadily through to the first week of spring. Given Thursdays results, this could once again ring true.

While the overall trend for the week for prices was firm to slightly cheaper, both Shepparton and Wodonga recorded dearer prices for grown steers and cows. However, Colac and Bairnsdale on Thursday were cheaper than all others due to a lack of competition with one factor being an export processor who had a breakdown Thursday morning. The young cattle were also dealt losses as come sales of vealers and yearlings were 10¢ to 20¢/kg cheaper. Considering there were some excellent vealers penned at Bairnsdale, this result was very disappointing. The EYCI though lifted 7.50¢ to 396.25¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday's markets. There was better feedlot competition at some sales, which placed a solid floor in the market.

Early in the week grown steers and bullock prices were unchanged to dearer. However, as the week progressed weight and breeding affected overall results with some categories selling to cheaper trends. Except for the two northern markets, cows were cheaper, and the carcass weight price average was 3¢ lower, at 289¢/kg.

Varied demand

The B muscle vealers topped at 267.2¢ early in the week, as most ranged from 220¢ to 255¢/kg. By the end of the week at Bairnsdale sales were to 255¢ and generally from 207¢ to 245¢/kg. Some of these vealers were from the renowned Cann River area, which in the past have dressed over 60%. A general run of C muscle vealers made from 185¢ to 235¢/kg, although there were some lower prices that occurred later in the week. Some very good quality supplementary fed yearlings made between 210¢ and 243¢, while the general run of steers and heifers to all buyers ranged from 175¢ and 210¢/kg.

Only a very small number of medium weight grown steers was offered as the C4 heavy steers made from 184¢ to 198¢ to average 191¢/kg, as the bullocks mostly sold around 190¢/kg. There were some heavy steers mouthed 0 to 2 teeth that made to 218¢/kg. However, heavy manufacturing steers were cheaper and made from 165¢ to 186¢/kg. Due to the varying competition good quality beef cows made from 138¢ to 173¢/kg. Larger frame, good quality dairy cows sold from 132¢ to 158¢, and most of the lean 1 and 2 scores were between 90¢ and 132¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Rain affects supply

Rain interrupted supply by 31% at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS with falls of 20mm across a large portion of the state. However Longreach went against this trend where numbers were well up, after only a small yarding last week, which included a fair proportion of light cattle in the mix and cow numbers increased and consisted of a large share of the market.

Further south overall quality was fair to good with just a few showing the signs of winter conditions. A larger panel of buyers was present at some markets and included some orders from as far south as Victoria. Southern buyers were very active to make up numbers after wet weather held back supply in Victoria.

The colder weather also resulted in a larger number of calves penned as producers choose to wean straight into the yards. Restockers remained very active and were able to absorb the increase supply and overall across all markets average prices improved by 5¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter in southern markets also experienced a lift in price with the heavy grades pushed on by local butcher support. The shorter supply of medium weight feeder grades saw values improve, and a fair supply of heavyweights also managed to sell to a stronger market.

The extra processor competition on export grades increased average prices for bullocks by 3¢/kg, and heavy grades over 750 kg lwt were not penalised and sold at prices close to the lighter weights. The stronger export demand also flowed onto the cows with improvements of 2¢ to 3¢/kg fairly common.

Most classes dearer

Calves returning to the paddock made to 272.2c with a large selection at 231¢, and slaughter grades generally sold around 202¢/kg. The largest sample of vealer steers returned to the paddock at 231¢ with some to 235.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 198¢ with a few heavy grades to 233.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers averaged 230¢ and medium weight feeders averaged 204¢ while¢3 a short supply of slaughter grades gained 6¢ and sold to 211.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed averaged 1¢ better at 187¢/kg. A relatively large supply of lightweight yearling heifers sold to feeder operators at 193¢ and medium weights averaged 7¢ dearer at 191¢, while D muscle slaughter grades averaged 149¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 172¢, and a fair sample of bullocks averaged 175¢ with some to 183.2¢/kg. A small sample of heavy classes over 750kg lwt sold around 176¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 120¢ and 3 scores improved 2¢ at 134¢/kg. Good heavy cows mostly sold around 148¢ with the occasional sale to 163.6¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Numbers slip further

At markets reported by MLA's NLRS, half were smaller and half larger, resulting in overall state throughput recording a 13% decline on last week. When compared to the corresponding week last year, all centres except Dubbo were smaller, with the state currently yarding 30% less. A major factor behind the reductions was the rain that fell over the weekend and during the early part of the week. The centres that recorded the greatest declines were the northern markets of Gunnedah, Casino and Scone.

Young cattle accounted for 63% of the states numbers with an almost even split between the vealers and yearlings. Even though winter is almost upon us, the greater feed and water availability and generally better outlook meant that feeders and restockers were very active securing around two-thirds of the young cattle offered. Of the grown cattle penned 35% were grown steers and 56% were cows.

Quality ranged mostly from fair to good as the variation between the properly finished cattle and the plainer lines becomes wider. Slaughter cattle at some centres were limited and going against this trend was CTLX were larger numbers of milk tooth grown steers were offered and Casino were some good runs of milk vealer were penned.

The smaller numbers overall played a part in prices for most categories selling to dearer levels. Young cattle were mostly firm to 10¢/kg dearer with some lightweights in each category selling to restocker recorded much larger increases. This trend was also evident across the eastern states as the EYCI climbed 7.5¢ on last week to 396.25¢/kg cwt.

Most categories dearer

Most of the light vealer steers returning to the paddock made in the early 240¢/kg range as the medium weights in large numbers sold mostly from 221¢ to 231¢/kg. The medium weights to the trade averaged 221¢ and the heavy weights 230¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter improved 10¢ to 218¢ after selling to 230¢ as those to feeder and restockers mostly made from 209¢ to 212¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feeders gained 8¢ to sell mostly around 214¢ with sales to 242.6¢/kg as the heavy weights averaged 204¢/kg. Heavy yearlings to slaughter made to 238.6c to average 210¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling heifers to feed ranged from 197¢ to 199¢ as the medium and heavy weights to the trade made mostly from 198¢ to 205¢/kg.

Grown steers regained some of the recent falls as cows sold to a more varied trend. Medium weight grown steers to feeders average 187¢ as the lean C3 heavy weights sold closer to 196¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows were unchanged at 122¢ as the D3s eased 1¢ to 133¢/kg. Restockers paid to 151.2c with most closer to 132¢/kg. Heavy cows reached 168.8¢ to average 150¢ to be 8¢/kg dearer.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased numbers

While numbers increased marginally at the SA LE, Naracoorte's numbers fell, albeit by a minimal amount which will see combined sales recommence next Tuesday after a final cow and bull sale on Friday. Mt. Gambier offered slightly larger numbers, with Millicent also able to pen extra supply at their fortnightly sale. While it was expected that numbers would increase further due to last week's improved prices, in particular for grown steers and cows after many producers had held stock back. However, even with some good rainfall in the South East, the recent cold days and nights have tightened feed reserves and are taking a toll of quality as the winter months approach producers may have to sell off stock or start hand feeding.

The SA LE's mixed quality yarding attracted erratic bidding from the usual interstate and local trade and processor buyers. There was a lack of feeder activity leading to yearling steers and heifers selling at reduced rates. A good quality run of vealers were yarded and sold to solid bidding, with the steers peaking at 266¢ and the heifers, 259¢/kg. Small numbers of grown steers, grown heifers and cows were available with most selling at dearer levels.

Naracoorte's and Mt. Gambier's varying quality runs sold to solid SA, Victorian and NSW competition at fluctuating levels, with feeder and restocker orders also quite active on a mixture of steers and heifers. There were only a small number of pastoral breds yarded. Grown steers and cows tended to attract the strongest demand, with the steers selling to 226¢, and the cows, 170¢/kg.

Erratic trends

It was a week of generally erratic trends that was mainly due to the varying quality offered. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 217¢ to 266¢ with lightweights at the higher end, at rates 3¢ cheaper for the heavyweights, and 6¢ to 13¢/kg dearer for the lightweights. Feeders and restockers paid from 214¢ to 238¢ for mainly C2 lightweights. Vealer heifers generally sold from 193¢ to 259¢ to be 7¢ to 12¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steer C and B muscled sales ranged between 175¢ and 240¢, and were 4¢ dearer for the heavyweights, while being up to 20¢/kg less for the medium weights. Feeders sourced C2 and C3 steers from 170¢ to 229¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights were from 175¢ to 228¢ at rates 8¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers C3 and C4 ranged from 186¢ to 226¢ at prices 13¢ to 17¢ dearer with prime medium weights the preferred article, and averaging close to 360¢/kg cwt overall. The D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 125¢ to 170¢ to be generally 1¢ to 8¢ dearer and mainly in a 275¢ to 315¢/kg cwt price range. Dairy 1 and 2 scores sold from 105¢ to 148¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Saleyard numbers lower

The strongest cold front since last winter crossed the WA coast late last week bringing wide spread solid rain across much of the state. Rain was recorded in the Pilbarra and Gascoyne regions continuing their strong season fortunes with the majority of the southern Agricultural districts also recording reasonable moist levels. With heavy early falls at the fore of the front, runoff was create and this saw water catchments relieving was has been a major headache to producers in the south.

Reports of germinations in the south have been positive and forecasts have predicted another reasonable rainfall event early to mid next week, which will be needed given the past few days have been fine and reasonably warm.

Mustering activity in the north remains strong and with premiums still to be made in live export markets, many pastoralists are endeavouring to get rid of cattle early before they capitalise on the strong feed levels that exist and go over the 350kg lwt limited set for Indonesia.

Physical market numbers were lower with Muchea offering a smaller yarding, while the Great Southern sale reversed this trend recording a slight lift in supply. It has been commented that with further good rainfall these smaller yardings could continue for sometime. Trade weight yearling supplies were negligible as young store supplies were fair.

The supplies of heavy weight grown steers, bullocks and grown heifers continued to be very limited, while there were reasonable volumes of cows again from local regions.

Cow market spikes

Vealer supplies continued to be limited and restricted to lightweight categories. Demand remains constant from both the local retailer and restocker sectors. There were only limited numbers of grass finished trade weight yearlings with quality remaining mixed. Local trade and feeder demand were again similar, while supplementary drafts of both steers and heifers also received steady demand. Store quality and weight were both mixed. Demand for medium and heavy weight store steers and heifers continued at firm levels from the feeder sector with firm and solid rates subsequently reported. The stronger demand for lightweight store steers evident the week before was slightly lower while lightweight store heifers remained unchanged to a similar restocker demand.

The were only very limited supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks. Demand from the processing sector was again strong with solid prices recorded. Heavy weight grown heifer sales rose under a stronger local and export processor competition.

The cow market started the week and higher and very solid price levels, but this did subside towards the end of the week. Despite this, overall prices rose by as much as 10¢/kg.

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