Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 10 June 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Steady supply

Apart from variations from centre to centre the supply of stock across the state at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS generally hovered around the levels of last week. Selling centres in the south of the state experienced some small increases in supply, however numbers at Longreach went against the trend to ease 35% following the large yarding last week.

Overall quality continues to be mixed with most centres reporting large numbers of young cattle. The winter weather was reflected in a large portion of the calves and vealers with most starting to slip in condition, and at Dalby the quality of the steers and bullocks was not up to recent weeks standard.

Buyer attendance at the commencement of the week was generally good, however by mid week most were present but not all were operating, and by the end of week markets not all export buyers were present. Values for young cattle varied according to quality and buyers were selective with only top quality lines commanding high prices. Vealer heifers to the trade commenced the week on a strong trend however by mid week average prices eased by 4¢ to 8¢/kg. Demand for medium weight yearling steers to feed generally held up throughout the week while heavy feeders across all markets averaged 3¢/kg less.

Heavy steers and bullocks commenced the week on a strong to dearer trend, nevertheless with the lack of competition from export processes at mid-and late week markets average prices fell by 4¢ to 6¢/kg. Cows followed a similar trend however average losses were confined to 1¢ to 2¢/kg.

Export grades cheaper

A large supply of calves returned to the paddock at 223¢ with the occasional pen to 271.2¢, while slaughter grades mostly sold around 200¢/kg. Vealer steers purchased by restockers sold to 239.2¢ to average 220¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter were well supplied and averaged 204¢ with some to local butchers paying 229.2¢/kg. A large number of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at an average of 230¢ with well bred grades reaching 257.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 208¢ and heavy grades lost 3¢ to average 184¢ with sales to 194¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers in the C2 range to restockers averaged 204¢, while the lesser quality D muscle lines averaged 139¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 173¢ and sold to 184.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 6¢ less at 175¢/kg. The bullock portion lost 4¢ to average close to 177¢, and a small sample of heavy bullocks made to 187.2¢ to average 176¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows generally averaged in the 120¢/kg range and 3 scores 135¢/kg. A fairly large selection of good heavy cows lost 3¢ to average 150¢ with a few pens to 165.2¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Larger numbers

While there was a similar sized yarding at the SALE, Naracoorte's numbers rose substantially, while Mt. Gambier's throughput fell after all categories apart from lightweight vealers sold at lower rates the previous week. Millicent agents yarded a slightly reduced yarding for its fortnightly sale. Overall supply increased due to the large gain at Naracoorte.

The SA LE's quality improved and generally sold at dearer levels to the usual trade and processor buyers. However, feeder and restocker input was negligible as they sourced only small numbers of young cattle and some plain quality cows. There were a few pastoral bred yearling steers offered that sold at 165¢, with the heifer portion 130¢ to 189¢/kg. Most locally bred yearling steers and heifers sold at dearer rates, while there were once again limited numbers of export cattle with cows making up the largest percentage.

Naracoorte's yarding featured quite mixed quality runs that sold to most of the usual SA and interstate buyers at lower prices, as they started to get back nearer to what was being paid a couple of weeks ago. Most vealer steers sold to 215¢, with isolated sales rising to 243c/kg. The heifers mirrored this trend selling to 240¢/kg, with isolated sales seemingly out of context with the rest. Yearling steers and heifers struggled to top the 200¢ mark, with only prime supplementary feds attracting the highest prices. Export categories were generally cheaper with the grown steers up to 186¢, and the cows to 155¢/kg.

Mt. Gambier's prices eased further despite the usual buyers being present, albeit with some not operating fully.

Fluctuating trends

The varying quality offered only tended to lead to fluctuating trends on most cattle categories. Vealer steers to the trade sold mainly from 194¢ to 243¢ to vary from 5¢ dearer and 3¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases of mainly C2 lightweights were from 200¢ to 234¢/kg at dearer levels. Vealer heifers to mainly trade competition sold from 182¢ to 240¢, with B muscled sales to 255¢ or generally unchanged to 14¢/kg less. Yearling steer C3 medium and heavyweights sold between 170¢ and 234¢, with the medium weights dearer and the heavy weights 4¢/kg cheaper. Yearling heifers C3 sales were generally from 164¢ to 205¢ to be 5¢ to 15¢/kg less.

Grown steer sales of C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights attracted prices from 168¢ to 197¢ to be unchanged to 15¢ cheaper, and were averaging 340¢/kg cwt. Grown heifers in larger numbers sold mainly from 144¢ to 175¢ to average 12¢/kg less. Medium and heavy D3 to C5 beef cows tended to sell from 128¢ to 155¢ to be 1¢ to 9¢ cheaper, and mostly 255¢ to 300¢/kg cwt. Feeder and restocker orders sourced D1 and D2 light and medium weight beef cows from 115¢ to 142¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Cattle supply stable

Cattle supply at markets reported by MLA's NLRS was stable overall, yet cattle turn off was varied across the regions. Supply was 12% lower compared to the same period in 2010. Northern sales such as Casino, Inverell and Gunnedah had larger yardings, with some dryer weather allowing for the greater flow of stock. In contrast to this, central markets generally had lower throughput, with the wet and cold winter conditions limiting supply. Supply is slowing with the onset of winter, with cull cow numbers and prime young cattle supply falling in recent times

Cattle quality was noticeably reduced, with plenty of lines in the markets showing the effects of the cooler temperatures by developing a 'winter coat'. Fewer young cattle are being turned off each week, with those that are hitting markets generally lacking some condition and are more suited to feeders and restockers. Prime drafts are scarce and those that are available are mainly crop finished or supplementary feed. Grown steers have plenty of weight, while the cow yarding was mainly D2 and D3 medium weights.

Direct to works rates were dearer, with several processors lifting rates in order to attract additional prime drafts. This is becoming the case for yearling cattle, with supply of consigned cattle running out so processors are eager to secure their kill. Cow and grown steer rates were slightly dearer, despite the mixed demand signals stemming from a number of key export markets. MSA rates were stronger as it has become difficult to source suitable grass finished cattle.

Prices ease

Large runs of medium weight vealer steers to restockers were 5¢ cheaper with most making from 220¢ to 238¢/kg. Heavy vealer steers returning to the paddock generally made around 222¢ and the portion to feed topped at 229¢/kg. A large run of light and medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter were firm to 5¢ dearer, mainly selling from 210¢ tom 227¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feeders eased 7¢ to average 202¢ as restockers paid closer to 216¢/kg for the lightweights. Heavy weights to feeders dropped 4¢ with most making 192¢, however those to slaughter eased slightly to 197¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to feed dropped 6¢ to 192¢, while medium weights to feed settled around 190¢/kg. Medium and heavy yearling heifers to the trade mostly ranged from 184¢ to 194¢/kg.

A good sized run of medium weight grown steers to feed eased 6¢ to 182¢, while medium weights to export slaughter were back 15¢ on 174¢/kg. The C3 heavy steers slipped by up to 16¢, averaging 183¢ as a small sample of 4 scores averaged 188¢/kg. Bullocks were 3¢ to 12¢ lower, averaging 191¢/kg or $1,158/head. Medium D3 cows averaged were in reduced numbers and averaged 136¢ as heavy D4s sold closer to 147¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Numbers fall

In a reaction to cheaper prices and the cold and wet winter conditions and the upcoming long weekend, supply was severally depleted. The reduced yardings resulted in solid demand for vealers in particular, along with the better quality yearling cattle. Across all MLA's NLRS reported markets, quality was affected by the harsh weather conditions, and this did affect some prices. Feedlot and restocker competition was reasonable with buyers active due to recent cheaper prices. Some excellent quality vealers from Gippsland, particularly East Gippsland led to prices firm on last week. However, whether it was lack of numbers, or better quality, or making up for the previous week, vealer prices at Warrnambool were much higher.

Generally, across the states yearling steers and heifers sold mostly firm to 5¢/kg cheaper. The better quality lines sold firm and by the end of the week good quality sold quite well, with a gap developing between trade and feeder cattle. The EYCI was 2.50¢ lower week on week, to be at 385¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday's markets.

Continued poor results from our export markets led to further price falls for grown steers, cows and bulls. While steer and cow prices were fairly even across the state, to be 2¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper, bull prices were very erratic. Most of this was due to opportunity, as some sales were at unchanged rates, others were a lot cheaper. This trend was mirrored across the Eastern states were the eastern states heavy steers were 1¢/kg lower, and the cow indicator was unchanged.

Quality in demand

The top of the B muscle vealer steers made mostly 250¢ to 267¢/kg as most other vealer prices were between 185¢ and 240¢/kg. Some supplementary fed yearlings sold well making from 200¢ to 240¢, as a larger number of C muscle steers and heifers, off pasture, made from 175¢ to 205¢ with some sales as low as 160¢/kg. Feedlots paid to 212¢/kg.

Because of the recent price trends, grown cattle supply was heavily reduced. However, it did little to stem the flow of cheaper prices with grown steers and bullocks falling another 2¢ to 6¢, but grown heifers and cows were 3¢ to 12¢/kg cheaper. Grown steers made to 197.2¢, to average around 184¢/kg while prime C muscle bullocks made between 160¢ and 190¢ to generally sell closer to 180.5¢/kg or $1,170/head. Except for some stud European breed cows making 171¢, price for good quality beef cows ranged from 130¢ to 155¢/kg. With a good percentage of lean cows only making 85¢ to 135¢, the carcass weight price average was estimated to be 267¢/kg cwt. The better medium weight lines averaged around 139¢, while most dairy pens settled on 119¢/kg. Heavy weight B muscle bulls made anywhere between 150¢ and 178¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Increased pastoral supplies

The vast majority of WA saw a week of fine and dry conditions with those areas that did see rainfall recording only limited falls. Areas in the northern wheatbelt saw some falls over the weekend with southern coastal districts being the only other areas. Feed levels in the northern parts of the state remain high and healthy with the condition of the cattle in these areas reflecting this.

In the south of the state pasture levels are on the increase and have enjoyed the fine and moderate temperatures seen over the past seven days. Despite this, supplementary feeding still remains a daily chore in the majority of areas, but this will be short lived if forecast for further rainfall early next week come to fruition. The majority of this season's calves have now been dropped in the majority of the agricultural districts.

Saleyard supplies were moderate this week with the long weekend in WA seeing the cancellation of the southwest sale with only Muchea and the Great Southern conducting sales. There were increased supplies of cattle sourced form pastoral districts this week. The majority of these were cows with quality and weight both solid. As has been the case in recent weeks there were only limited supplies of locally bred heavy and trade weight steers and heifers. The lower demand and subsequent weaker values seen the previous week for local cows saw a weakening in the supplies of these at both markets.

Quieter trade demand

Trade competition was generally weaker, with demand softening. One of the possible reasons for this may have been that many processors had pre-booked cattle to cover the shorter working week due to the long week holiday. There were only very limited supplies on vealers with most again predominately of lightweight calf weights. Competition from the local retail and restocker sectors remains high with little or no change seen in values. There were only limited supplies of grain finished yearling seen in saleyards. Generally trade inquiry was more conservative in both steer and heifer classes and this caused values to ease by as much as 10c/kg lwt.

Grass finished trade weight yearling numbers were all but non-existent and again the majority of these were purchased by the feeder sectors. There were fewer supplies of store cattle seen and demand from both the feeder and restocker sectors remained solid and stable, with little or no change seen in rates throughout the classes. The weakening in the cow market experienced the previous week was again seen, with quite substantial reductions of up to 10c/kg lwt in the values of prime heavy weight cows.

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