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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

01 July 2011
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - Queensland and New South Wales have seen a drop in cattle numbers while Victoria and South Australia are reporting steady supplu according to the weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.

QLD weekly cattle summary

A drop in supply

The overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS fell 20%. Markets early in the week all experienced a fall in numbers, as the recent decline in market values combined with ample feed in the supply area reduced numbers at Warwick. However by mid and late week markets at Dalby and the Roma prime sale supply went against this trend to show a small increase.

Quality remains mixed and despite the fall in overall numbers the supply of calves vealer steers lifted by a few hundred head. Not all the usual buyers were present at markets early in the week, nevertheless by mid week sales all the usual export domestic and feeder buyers were present and operating.

Apart from adjustments in places due to quality calves vealer steers and heifers and lightweight yearling steers and heifers generally sold to a firm market, with local butchers particularly keen to obtain a selected few of the top quality lines. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed improved in value by 4¢ to 7¢/kg pushed on by some restocker activity.

The short supply of heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter at the Toowoomba sales sold to a dearer trend however at Warwick values tended to struggle to maintain the prices of the previous sale. However by mid and late week markets average prices fell by around 3¢/kg. The smaller supply of cows varied in price from centre to centre nevertheless across all markets for the week a lift in quality saw average prices remain generally unchanged on the previous week.

Feeder cattle dearerCattle supply slips

Cattle yardings were back 8% at the physical markets reported by MLA's NLRS, as most saleyards penned fewer numbers. The recent cheaper price trend coincided with the end of financial year, which meant producers were happy to withhold stock across the state. Cattle throughput was 11% lower compared to the same week in 2010.

The reduction in supply was a state wide trend apart from Dubbo, where numbers increased compared to last week's weather affected yarding. Price levels at the end of last week were the lowest in recent times - prompting the declining numbers. Producers are holding stock over winter if there are adequate fodder reserves - with many young cattle now grazing oat crops or improved pastures after the widespread rain in early June. Producers who opted to offload cattle were generally rewarded, with price averages trending higher for a number of categories. Competition was improved, with several restocking and backgrounding orders competitive on store lines.

The quality of the offering was again mixed, with most young cattle falling into the feeder category. Prime drafts were scarce and most pens selling to domestic trade orders were either grain assisted or crop finished. This meant feeder and restocker orders had slightly more pens to choose from, although keener demand meant prices kicked upwards. Export processors were active in most markets, however demand remains subdued in the context of the tough meat trading conditions. Price for grown cattle were generally stable - with the limited supply enough to overcome the reduced demand for mature, heavy cattle.

Prices kick up

Vealer steer prices to restockers were firm to 3¢ cheaper as the lightweight pens sold around 225¢ and the medium weights topped at 235¢ and averaged 216¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade were fully firm on 209¢, while the heavy C3 lines gained 4¢ - to 235¢/kg. Vealer heifers to processors mainly sold from 205¢ to 223¢ and were mainly 4¢/kg cheaper. The majority of yearling steers sold to feeder competition. Lighter weight pens for the domestic trade were firm on 207¢, while the medium and heavy drafts averaged 201¢ and 184¢/kg, respectfully. Restocker mainly sourced light yearling steers which averaged 204¢/kg or $608/head. Feeder heifers were 6¢ dearer as the lightweights settled on 191¢/kg. Yearling heifers to the trade topped at 225¢, averaging 2¢ higher on 182¢/kg.

The C3 grown steers of all weight generally sold from 160¢ to 190¢, yet averages were closer to 175¢/kg. Light pens to feeders were back by 3¢ and averaged 176¢/kg. The small run of C4 bullocks were firm, finishing on 182¢kg or $1,005/head. The better conditioned medium weight D3 cows averaged 133¢, while best heavy cows topped at 153¢ and the D4 portion settled on 143¢/kg.

The largest number of calves returned to the paddock at 219¢ with the occasional pen to 288.2¢, while a small supply sold to the trade at 200¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock made to 235.2/c to average 222¢ and trade descriptions averaged 198¢/kg. A good supply of vealer heifers to the trade averaged 196¢ with the occasional sale to local butchers at 256.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 219¢ and made 239.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 7¢ better at close to 188¢ with sales to 221.2¢, while heavy feeders sold to a market 4¢ dearer at 176¢ and sold to 191.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers averaged 193¢, and medium weight feeders averaged 8¢ better at 187¢, while D muscle lines to the trade averaged 148¢/kg.

A small number of heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 170¢ and sold to 177.6¢/kg. A fair supply of bullocks averaged 3¢ less at 166¢ with some to 173.2¢/kg. A small number of plain condition cows sold to restockers at an average of 127¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows to processors averaged 118¢ and 3 scores mostly sold around 127¢/kg. Good heavy cows averaged 142¢ with a few pens from far western districts reaching 153.2¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Cattle supply slips

Cattle yardings were back 8% at the physical markets reported by MLA's NLRS, as most saleyards penned fewer numbers. The recent cheaper price trend coincided with the end of financial year, which meant producers were happy to withhold stock across the state. Cattle throughput was 11% lower compared to the same week in 2010.

The reduction in supply was a state wide trend apart from Dubbo, where numbers increased compared to last week's weather affected yarding. Price levels at the end of last week were the lowest in recent times - prompting the declining numbers. Producers are holding stock over winter if there are adequate fodder reserves - with many young cattle now grazing oat crops or improved pastures after the widespread rain in early June. Producers who opted to offload cattle were generally rewarded, with price averages trending higher for a number of categories. Competition was improved, with several restocking and backgrounding orders competitive on store lines.

The quality of the offering was again mixed, with most young cattle falling into the feeder category. Prime drafts were scarce and most pens selling to domestic trade orders were either grain assisted or crop finished. This meant feeder and restocker orders had slightly more pens to choose from, although keener demand meant prices kicked upwards. Export processors were active in most markets, however demand remains subdued in the context of the tough meat trading conditions. Price for grown cattle were generally stable - with the limited supply enough to overcome the reduced demand for mature, heavy cattle.

Prices kick up

Vealer steer prices to restockers were firm to 3¢ cheaper as the lightweight pens sold around 225¢ and the medium weights topped at 235¢ and averaged 216¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade were fully firm on 209¢, while the heavy C3 lines gained 4¢ - to 235¢/kg. Vealer heifers to processors mainly sold from 205¢ to 223¢ and were mainly 4¢/kg cheaper. The majority of yearling steers sold to feeder competition. Lighter weight pens for the domestic trade were firm on 207¢, while the medium and heavy drafts averaged 201¢ and 184¢/kg, respectfully. Restocker mainly sourced light yearling steers which averaged 204¢/kg or $608/head. Feeder heifers were 6¢ dearer as the lightweights settled on 191¢/kg. Yearling heifers to the trade topped at 225¢, averaging 2¢ higher on 182¢/kg.

The C3 grown steers of all weight generally sold from 160¢ to 190¢, yet averages were closer to 175¢/kg. Light pens to feeders were back by 3¢ and averaged 176¢/kg. The small run of C4 bullocks were firm, finishing on 182¢kg or $1,005/head. The better conditioned medium weight D3 cows averaged 133¢, while best heavy cows topped at 153¢ and the D4 portion settled on 143¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Cattle supply steady

Overall supply declined by the very small margin of 1.5% at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets, however, some big supply swings occurred at individual markets. Most of this occurrence was realised in Gippsland where the Monday Pakenham market was 60% smaller, but at Leongatha on Wednesday, supply lifted 40%. These big swings were caused mostly by a change in the number of grown cattle penned. Supply at other markets across the state showed only marginally movement either way.

This scenario led to stronger demand at these sales, but this was the trend across all markets. Being the middle of a normal winter is seeing a number of plainer condition cattle coming forward, but equally there was some excellent quality cattle penned. While stronger demand did lift prices, the good quality evident for mainly young cattle drafts also assisted values. The double effect of this resulted in price increases of 2¢ to 7¢/kg over most categories. The very top quality vealer prices were lower, but few of these were available. Feedlot and restocker competition was reasonable and this coupled with the stronger support from trade buyers across the eastern states assisted the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator to rise 5.50¢ on last Thursday to 378.25¢/kg cwt.

The lack of grown steers and bullocks aided a lift in prices for grown cattle, with competition increasing at most markets. However, cow prices were mixed and changed due to both quality and supply issues across the markets.

Prices generally lift

Vealer prices varied, as larger numbers were penned, yet the top better quality pens were scarcer. The top price was 267¢, as most of the B muscle vealers made over 220¢ and were 2¢ to 7¢/kg dearer. Other vealers realised similar price increase, as most C muscle lines made 190¢ to 235¢/kg.

The reasonable to good supply of yearling steers and heifers sold well with supplementary fed steers reaching 250¢ and heifers 237¢/kg. Most C muscle steers made from 175¢ to 200¢/kg, and there were also good quality heavy yearling steers that made to 192¢/kg. A large run of yearling heifers selling to all sectors ranged from 158¢ and 185¢/kg.

A small run of heavy grown steers made to 192¢ to average 175¢ as only 400 prime C muscle bullocks were offered state wide which made to 184¢, and also averaging 175c/kg.

Cow supply was again a substantial part of cattle turn off, with all sales averaging 129¢/kg. The better quality heavy cows made from 135¢c to 162¢, as the plainer grades mostly ranged from 100¢ to 135¢, for an overall carcass weight average of 277¢/kg cwt.

SA weekly cattle summary

Similar numbers

While the SA LE's numbers slipped after last week's large downward price correction, Naracoorte's numbers also fell. However, this was negated by Mt. Gambier's larger yarding despite the lower prices paid the week before.

However, strange things can happen from one week to the next, as generally mixed quality runs of young cattle, small numbers of grown steers and good quality yardings of cows sold to solid trade and processor competition from the usual local and interstate buyers at generally dearer levels, with only plain quality selling at lower rates. Feeder and restocker orders were also active on vealer and yearling steers and heifers. Vealers were in short supply and sold at dearer levels as most sales rose above 200¢/kg. Large runs of yearling steers and heifers sold mainly to the trade at improved rates.

Small yardings of grown steers, grown heifers fluctuated while cows were generally dearer. Feeder orders also sourced lightweight bulls at dearer levels. Naracoorte's yarding featured large good quality runs of beef, pastoral bred and Friesian cows that attracted very solid demand, as did Mt. Gambier's sale due to the strong bidding from a South East processor before their annual maintenance break commences after next Fridays boning out.

There were 2,827 cattle at the Alice Springs Show Store sale in fresh quality runs of mainly milk and two teeth steers and heifers, with a top price of 206c/kg lwt achieved for a pen of EU Accredited Hereford yearling steers.

A generally dearer trend

It was generally an improved priced sale week, as most categories recovered some lost ground. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 215¢ to 238¢, with a single at 262¢/kg to be 8¢ to 14¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 steers from 204¢ to 225¢, also at generally improved rates. Vealer heifers were keenly sourced by the trade from 195¢ to 235¢, with feeder and restockers paying from 140¢ to 206¢, with most sales rising by 1¢ to 8¢/kg. The C3 and C4 yearling steers sold from 170¢ to 212¢, with the medium weights 2¢ cheaper and the heavy steers 10¢/kg more. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were generally between 168¢ and 200¢ to be 3¢ to 14¢/kg higher.

Small runs of C2 to C4 medium and heavy grown steers sold mainly between 160¢ and 186¢ to be 1¢ to 3¢ dearer and averaging 320¢/kg cwt. Grown heifer D3 to C4 sales ranged between 134¢ and 168¢, with those sales varying from 3¢ to 9¢ less and unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. Beef D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 123¢ to 154¢ to be unchanged to 9¢ dearer, and mainly 250¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

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