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 24 June 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Cattle supply bounces back

Cattle throughput at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets returned to normal levels, as numbers increased 50 per cent in comparison to the previous short trading week. Cattle turn off was mixed across the state, with the weather conditions and rain over the past fortnight impacting supplies. Compared to last year consignments were 24 per cent lower - indicating the reluctance to sell with the softer demand and cold weather.

Supply generally increased at selling centres that had a two week break, however turn off was limited elsewhere. Numbers were stronger at Tamworth, Casino and Wagga, with producers still keen to sell cattle before winter takes hold and the financial year ends. The cold front that affected much of the state on Tuesday night reduced yardings in central and southern areas, with CTLX and Dubbo the hardest hit. With the weather continuing to get colder it is expected that young cattle quality will become more varied, with the tablelands affected with decent snow falls.

The quality and condition of young cattle was generally mixed, with drafts that have been supplementary fed or crop finished attracting the strongest buying support. The increase in secondary lines meant that feeders and restockers were catered for. The softer price trend over the past month has triggered some fresh restocker activity, with vealer and light yearling selling to animated demand this week.

Processor demand was again missing in some markets, with the sluggish export demand affecting livestock prices. The high A$ and good supply of consigned cattle has meant processor demand has been patchy in recent weeks.

Restocker demand picks up

The resurgence in restocker and backgrounder demand drove store vealer prices higher, as the lightweights gained 6¢ to 222¢/kg. Medium weights sold to a top of 240¢, were 4¢ higher on 221¢/kg. A large run of vealer heifers to restocker orders topped at 220¢ and averaged closer to 195¢, while the pens to the trade settled on 210¢/kg. Feeder buyers paid up to 230¢ for light yearling steers and most medium weight steers averaged 5¢ cheaper on 201¢/kg. A large run of heavy C2 yearling steers to feed topped at 210¢ and averaged 3¢ cheaper on 191¢/kg. Yearling heifers mostly sold to trade buyers at lower prices, with medium weights settled on 198¢ and heavyweight's 181¢/kg.

The C2 medium weight grown steers to feeders were in solid numbers, which meant demand softened and prices eased 14¢ to 170¢/kg. Heavy steers were back 4¢, with most pens selling around the 177¢/kg mark. The C3 and C4 bullocks were stable overall, and prices ranged from 170¢ to 176¢/kg or around $1,129/head. Medium weight cows mostly sold from 123¢ to 132¢, and prices eased by around 4¢/kg. Heavy cows were of good quality and this helped price hold firm, with D4s settling on 143¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

With the increased amount of boxed beef now being sold in the Eastern and Southern states combining with the high A$; cattle prices have retreated.

The SA LE had a similar numbered yarding with quality good. While the trade lowered their prices; feeder and restocker orders increased and sourced suitable young cattle at improved levels. The vealer steers were shared between the local butchers, feeders and restockers, with the heifers selling mainly to the trade. Feeder orders were active on the light and medium weight yearling steers and heifers. Trade purchases were cheaper as 200¢/kg was about all they wanted to pay. Grown steers in small numbers averaged around 300¢/kg cwt. Small lines of cows sold mainly to processors, with restockers sourcing limited numbers of 1 and 2 scores.

Naracoorte's larger yarding contained mixed quality runs of locally and pastoral bred cattle that sold to soft trade and processor competition from most of the usual SA and interstate buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were active and at times left the trade in their wake. A large run of over 600 cows could not maintain their recent high prices.

Mt. Gambier's numbers fell in perhaps a backlash to the weaker prices being paid over the past fortnight. Overall quality was quite varied, although there were some prime quality grown steers and cows offered.

Millicent's fortnightly sale was cancelled due to lack of numbers.

Prices retreat

It was a week of retreating prices as most categories attracted a weaker trend. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 190¢ to 232¢ to be 4¢ to 8¢/kg less. Feeder and restocker purchases of mainly C2 lightweights were from 190¢ to 226¢ or 9¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade sold between 176¢ and 240¢ with isolated sales 2¢ to 3¢ dearer; and the others up to 14¢/kg cheaper. Feeder orders sourced C and D muscled heifers from 180¢ to 202¢/kg. Yearling steer C and B muscled sales were from 160¢ to 214¢ or generally 3¢ to 20¢/kg lower. Feeders purchased C2 and C3 steers over a wide range of weights from 162¢ to 230¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were between 160¢ and 205¢ at prices 7¢ to 22¢/kg less.

Medium and heavy C3 and C4 grown steers were 2¢ to 4¢ cheaper selling between 160¢ and 185¢, and averaging 315¢/kg. Grown heifers, in increased numbers, sold from 130¢ to 165¢, to average 10¢/kg cheaper. Medium and heavy D3 to C6 beef cows sold from 120¢ to 152¢ to be unchanged to 9¢ dearer, and 3¢ to 15¢/kg cheaper, and generally 240¢ to 290¢/kg cwt.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A lift in supply

The return of the Toowoomba markets following a long weekend combined with a general increase in supply at the remaining centres, overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS lifted 42 per cent.

Overall quality remains mixed and young cattle numbers rose as cold seasonal conditions prevail across the state. Despite the overall increase in supply the number of export slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks penned fell 20 per cent, and the supply of cows eased 39 per cent.

Most of the usual buyers operated in the young cattle section at early week markets, however not all the usual export buyers were present. Nevertheless by mid and late week markets a full panel of buyers was present and operating across all categories. Apart from some adjustments to prices in places due to quality most of young cattle including calves vealers and yearling steers and light heifers generally sold to strong enquiry from restockers backgrounders and the trade. However some of the medium weight classes and all of the heavyweight categories of yearling steers and heifers to feed eased 1¢ to 10¢/kg and more in places, while only a selected few well presented trade descriptions met strong demand.

Despite the drop in supply of export slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks average prices at most markets continued to ease, however by late week this movement in price tended to turn around. Cows followed a similar trend to ease in value at markets early in the week, nevertheless by mid week values developed a firming tendency.

Feeder grades cheaper

Calves returning to the paddock made to 248.2¢ with a fairly large sample at close to 223¢, and trade descriptions mostly sold around 192¢/kg. Vealer steers generally sold to feeder operators or restockers with most from 215¢ to 219¢ with the occasional sale to the trade at 249.2¢/kg. A good supply of vealer heifers sold to the trade at an average of 198¢ with a handful to local butchers reaching 233.2¢/kg. A large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 217¢ with sales to 241¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed fell in value with most in the 180¢/kg range with only very isolated sale to 219.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed were well supplied and sold to a market 7¢ less at 172¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 8¢ cheaper at 178¢ and slaughtered descriptions made to 214.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 6¢ less at 163¢ and sold to175¢/kg. Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter across all markets averaged 1¢ cheaper at 168¢ and 169¢ respectively with some to 175.6¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 115¢ and 3 scores 127¢/kg. Good heavy cows mostly sold around 140¢ with a few pens to 150.6¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Numbers lift slightly

Despite returning to a full working week, cattle supply only increased by less than 2 per cent - as the softer prices and cold weather combined to limit throughput. Most markets offered fewer cattle, as only the two Pakenham markets were slightly larger.

Demand was still strong for properly finished, heavily muscled young cattle with a price gap beginning to open up on the best quality lines. While some of the young cattle sold at unchanged to slightly dearer trends, the EYCI gives a better reflection of the week's outcome. At the close of Thursday's markets, the EYCI was 8.50¢ down week on week, at 372.75¢/kg cwt. Demand continues to be cautious, with processors not operating in all markets.

Despite some cattle showing good quality, most NLRS reported physical markets indicated plainer quality offerings overall compared to recent weeks. This is due to the further rain and very cold conditions which is having a big effect on some cattle, particularly young cattle. As quality has declined, feedlots and restockers are continued to purchase a significant number of young cattle, but at reduced prices.

A significant fall in the supply of cows and bullocks led to most of the total supply fall. Even though there was five working days available, some processors, mostly export, remain working at low levels given the tough trading conditions. Given the small number of offer at some selling centres, not all sold to full competition. At Bairnsdale, two processors did not attend due to a lack of grown cattle drawn for.

Mixed prices

Bairnsdale offered just 150 vealers, as nearly all made over 250¢, and many made 260¢ to 272¢/kg. The smaller offering increased competition in places, creating isolated dearer trends. Prices were similar to these at other Gippsland markets, but away from these, prices varied between 175¢ and 235¢/kg with some of the lower prices for good quality pens. Similarly, supplementary fed yearlings sold to 250¢ at Pakenham, and mostly 185¢ to 210¢/kg elsewhere. Because a larger percentage of plainer quality cattle were yarded, yearling steers and heifers prices were mostly between 165¢ and 195¢/kg.

Variations between saleyards created some big price differences over the much smaller penning of grown cattle. Prime C muscle steers and bullocks made anywhere between 155¢ and 185¢, with most 2¢ cheaper selling closer 175.5¢/kg. Prices for reasonable to good quality cows varied, mostly due to dressing percentage changes. Prices were from 135¢ to 161¢ with some cows weighing up to 800kg lwt. Most other cows made from 110¢ to 142¢/kg as the very poor lightweight cows mainly made from 65¢ to 105¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated around 271¢, but ranged from 260¢ and 281¢/kg cwt across the markets.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Expectation high of further rain

Conditions in the majority of the north remain solid. Obviously there remains uncertainty in the north in relation to live export and this has seen some mustering activity brought to a halt. Further to the south seasonal conditions continued to be extremely varied with the southern Ag districts seeing many micro climates remain in place. Predominately there was little or only moderate falls of rain seen this week with most of this confined to coastal areas, with virtually nothing heading in land. Forecasts have predicted that there will be two solid fronts over the next four to five days with expectations of solid falls at this stage remaining high.

The majority of calving has now been completed in the Ag districts. Warmer than usual temperatures have aided pasture growth which has been solid in most areas, despite the drying conditions. Supplementary feeding continues with most producers now nearing the end of their hay supplies. Saleyard numbers remained low with the southwest sale extremely small with agents reporting numbers of approximately 150 head. Muchea continued to be the largest of the three yardings as pastoral cattle numbers accounted for a large percentage of this market. Young store grades remained in reasonably healthy supply, while all other grades of slaughter cattle having relatively limited volumes available. Trade demand continued to be buoyant throughout the classes this week with a solid demand seen from local and retail operators, while export processors remained conservative as they continue to receive good supplies of quality export grades from the pastoral north of the state.

Cow classes again dearer

Vealer numbers were again very limited this week in physical markets and continued to be restricted to calf weights. Demand for these grades from local retailers remains high with a solid restocker interest also remaining in the market place. There were slightly lower numbers of grain finished yearlings this week. Quality and weight were both improved in the smaller numbers and this saw a more level pricing range recorded. Generally rates remained firm and solid in both steer and heifer categories. Store quality and weight in cattle from local areas remained varied. The market continued to see a very solid and strong demand from both restockers and feeders for all classes of steers, while heifer demand continued to wane with rates lower by as much as 10c/kg lwt.

Heavy weight steers and bullocks, both local and pastoral bred recorded firm demand and rates from the processing and restocker sectors. This was also the case in mature heavy weight heifer sales. There were fewer supplies of quality heavy weight local cows this week, but this was offset by the healthy numbers of pastoral grades seen at Muchea. Trade demand continued to rise with prime medium and heavy weight grades enjoying rises of up approximately 10c/kg lwt.

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