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Weekly Cattle Summary

26 August 2011
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

More rain, smaller numbers

There was a dose of optimism at the Muchea saleyards on Monday after some more welcome rainfall in many regions boosted confidence for a good finish to this year after some years many producers and agents would prefer to forget.

Moisture levels have been given a boost although some pastures are still only showing limited growth, while some regions are having the best season for some time with an abundance of feed after some heavy destocking over the past couple of years.

In steady rain Muchea had 1,292 cattle penned which was 359 head less and featured mainly pastoral bred cattle and only small pockets of grain assisted and locally bred young cattle, cows and bulls. While most of the usual trade and processor buyers were operating they had to contend with restocker, feeder and live export inquiry that left some sales dearer and others selling at lower levels due to the varying quality offered.

The grain assisted local cattle attracted the strongest demand and sold at dearer levels due the limited number offered, as the C3 yearling steers averaged 250¢, and the medium weighted yearling heifers 240¢/kg.

There were only limited numbers of pastoral bred grown steers offered, with the grown heifers being locally bred. The manufacturing steers were mainly pastoral bred and attracted some live export and restocker demand, albeit with most to the trade in a wide spread of prices. Most of the light, medium weight and some heavyweights were pastoral bred and sold to processors with token restocker inquiry on plain quality light and medium weights.

Erratic competition

There were fluctuating trends at Muchea with limited numbers of vealers being penned. A single steer sold at 249¢, with the D2 lightweight heifers to feeders and restockers selling from 146¢ to 193¢/kg. Limited trade purchases were at 200¢ and 210¢/kg.

Feeder and restocker orders secured most of the light pastoral breeds from 111¢ to 145¢, with a C2 feeder purchase at 229¢ and the trade paying 179¢ to 231¢/kg for some lightweights. The medium and heavy C3 grain assisted sales were from 230¢ to 254¢ at prices 11¢/kg dearer.

However, the pastoral bred C2 and C3 sales ranged between 160¢ and 168¢ to be up to 19¢/kg cheaper. The yearling heifers followed suit with the lightweights to feeder, restocker and trade inquiry, and the medium and heavy heifers mainly to the trade. The grain assisted sold between 170¢ and 256¢, with the medium weights six cents dearer and the heavyweights 16¢/kg cheaper.

The pastoral bred lines to live export and the trade attracted prices from 80¢ to 149¢/kg. Pastoral bred grown steers were dearer averaging 154¢/kg. Most cows were dearer selling mainly between 185¢ and 280¢/kg cwt. Live export orders secured mainly pastoral bred bulls from 82¢ to 224¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply washed away

Cattle supply across physical markets reported by MLA's NLRS were back 19 per cent compared with the previous week. Welcome rainfall late last week was the main driver behind the reduced turn off, with markets held early in the week particularly affected.

The reduction in numbers was most apparent through the Hunter Valley and Northern Tablelands as several markets were the fraction of the usual size. Tamworth, Scone and Armidale all failed to field 500 head with only 160 consigned at Armidale.

It was a similar story across the state, although throughput at Dubbo was five per cent higher as producers took advantage of the dearer price trend created by the supply shortages. The exception to this was Wagga, where numbers held firm in the mixed quality offering.

With spring approaching the proportion of yearling cattle hitting the physical markets has begun to lift and the best quality lots have been crop finished of supplementary fed. However, a fair amount of store lines are available - many of which sold to stronger restocker enquiry this week after the rain. The weight and condition of heavy steers is still excellent, with most pens exceeding 600kg lwt.

This week saw the benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) reach levels not seen since mid May. Cattle prices have been slowly edging higher over the past month and the latest supply disruptions pushed the EYCI to 390.25¢/kg cwt. Additionally, demand from feeders and processors has lifted as all forms of cattle buyers remains eager to attract cattle supplies. Paddock feeder and direct to works slaughter rates also increased this week across the eastern states.

Prices on the rise

Prices across the young cattle categories were mostly dearer this week, with the lower numbers driving competition. Lightweight vealers to restockers and backgrounders topped at 259¢ and averaged firm on 228¢, while the heavier pens to the trade were on 236¢/kg.

The leaner medium weight vealer heifers to the trade were nine cents dearer on 228¢, while the better covered C3 pens made 229¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed and restock mainly sold from 217¢ to 225¢ and were 10¢/kg dearer.

The medium weights to feed averaged 13¢ higher on 215¢, while the C3 portion made 216¢/kg. Heavy steers and heifers to slaughter were in good numbers as the steers made 201¢ and the heifers 194¢/kg. The better conditioned C3 heifers mostly sold around 211¢, after topping at 248¢/kg.

Medium C2 grown steers to export feeders settled four cents higher on 190¢, while the C3 section to kill mainly sold at 185¢/kg. The heavy pens sold to stronger export processor competition, gaining seven cents to 192¢/kg. The moderate sized bullock yarding was seven cents dearer on 191¢/kg or $1,230/head. Medium D3 cows were on 147¢, while the heavyweight D4 section averaged five cents dearer on 157¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Numbers on the rise

While numbers fell marginally by 56 head to 542 at the SALE, Naracoorte's numbers increased again by 547 to 1,801 head, while Mt. Gambier had 1,289 or 437 head more. Young cattle and grown steer quality was generally good at the SALE, the grown heifers and cows were in mixed quality runs.

The usual trade and processor buyers lowered their prices on last week's dearer priced sale. No vealers were penned with the trade, feeders and restockers sourcing light and medium weighted steers and heifers at lower prices, with only some prime B and C muscled medium and heavyweight steers selling above the 200¢/kg mark.

Limited numbers of grown steer's averaged 172¢/kg, while the small yarding medium and heavyweight cows were marginally dearer. However, some 72 lightweight C2 bulls attracted sold restocker demand.

While the SA LE's sale attracted a weaker trend the same could not be said about Naracoorte's and Mt. Gambier's increased numbered yardings sold to very strong trade and processor competition that was aided by the return of two additional buyers and increased restocker demand.

The vealer steers were keenly sourced with the lightweights to mainly restocker demand. Vealer heifers while generally selling to an easing trend; did attract prices for lightweights up to 277¢/kg. Yearling steers and heifers were generally cheaper overall.

However, improved quality runs of grown steers attracted a dearer trend, as isolated sales rose above 200¢/kg, with even some extra heavyweights selling above A$1,400/head. Cows in larger numbers sold at dearer levels, with many prime heavyweights selling above 165¢/kg or in excess of A$1,100/head.

Fluctuating trends

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 194¢ to 266¢ at prices that varied from four to five cents dearer and five cents/kg cheaper for some lightweights. Feeder and restocker orders sourced mainly C2 lightweights from 180¢ to 228¢, or one to three cents/kg less.

Vealer heifers to the trade sold between 187¢ and 277¢ with isolated sales 12¢ dearer and the balance generally eight to 14¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steer C3 sales of medium and heavyweights sold from 170¢ to 220¢, or two to four cents/kg lower. However, some B muscled sales were unchanged selling between 212¢ and 242¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 sales ranged between 168¢ and 220¢, with the medium weights unchanged and the heavyweights four cents/kg cheaper.

The improved quality runs of grown steers and bullocks assisted prices to dearer levels as most C3 and C4 sales ranged between 174¢ and 205¢, or three to eight cents dearer and generally 310¢ to 370¢/kg cwt. Grown heifers in increased numbers sold from 155¢ to 190¢ to be around 12¢ dearer and were averaging 330¢/kg cwt.

Despite a high A$ cow prices were unchanged to 12¢ dearer, as D3 to C6 medium and heavyweights sold mainly from 135¢ to 171¢, or generally 275¢ to 330¢/kg cwt.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Steady supply

Despite a firm to dearer market experienced the previous week the supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS received very little change. Numbers at most selling centres was down, however supply at Mareeba and the Roma store sale went against this trend to record larger numbers.

The quality of the export classes across most markets was fair to good, while the majority of the young cattle either sold to restockers or feeder operators. Buyer attendance was good and included all the major export processors plus the usual trade and feeder operators, and a few extra restocker buyers at the Roma store sale provided more competition on lightweight yearling steers.

Values for young cattle generally improved and southern and local processors once again displayed a need for more lightweight lines of both vealer steers and heifers and prices improved. Feeder classes continued to experience a lift in value and heavy categories of yearling steers averaged 5¢ better, while medium and heavy weight yearling heifers to feed improved eight to 10¢/kg.

Yearling classes suited to the local trade market were noticeably dearer in places, and despite more heifers than normal being penned at the Roma prime sale demand still outweighed supply.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced a dearer market early in the week and this trend continued as the week progressed with a fair sample of bullocks seven cents/kg better. Heavy categories over 750 kg were not penalised and sold at rates only three cents/kg behind the lighter classes. Cows also enjoyed firm to stronger demand with the better end of the cows improving by two to three cents/kg.

Most classes dearer

Most of the calves returned to the paddock foour cents dearer at 234¢ with the occasional pen to 264.2¢/kg. Vealer steers also returning to the paddock make to a top of 238.2¢ with a fair sample around 230¢/kg. A fairly good supply of vealer heifers sold to local and southern processors two cents dearer at 206¢, a few heavy grades to local butchers reaching 256.2¢/kg.

A large number of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock three cents better at 223¢ with some to 249.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged three cents dearer at 202¢ while the largest numbers of heavyweights averaged 187¢ with one pen at 200.2¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling heifers to feed and restockers averaged 203¢ and 207¢ respectively while the occasional well bred line sold to a local butcher at 237.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to lotfeeders averaged 186¢ and heavyweights 184¢/kg.

Good heavy bullocks lifted in value by seven cents to average 181¢ with the occasional pen to 190.2¢, while a few over 750kg made to 187.2¢/kg. The largest numbers of medium weight three score cows experienced no change in value at 134¢, while good heavy cows averaged two cents dearer at 150¢ with some to 166.2¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Quality mixed

Supply increased marginally, and the quality varied, but prices were mostly higher. The best indication for price increases for young cattle is the EYCI, which at the close of trade Thursday was 5.25¢ higher, closing at 390.25¢/kg cwt.

While vealers prices averaged one to six cents/kg higher for most sales, it was the medium to heavy weight yearling steers and heifers that stole the limelight. Prices here were three to 15¢/kg dearer at most of the sales reported by MLA's NLRS.

It would appear that sales direct to abattoirs have waned, with producers electing to sell at physical markets with prices continue to rise. This has seen competition improve and demand very strong creating price increases of six to 15¢/kg for grown steers and some bullocks. Cows also sold to dearer trends.

There remains a big variation in competition for vealers between saleyards, creating a buffer of 10¢ to 20¢/kg between Gippsland markets and others across the state. Some of this is due to quality variations, but most is due to the number of smaller butchers that operate out of Gippsland and surrounds.

Part of the price increase for vealers and yearlings stems from recent store cattle sales where prices have been excellent. In particular, restockers have returned to physical markets trying to buy replacements at prices similar to fat cattle values. This has worked at some times, but not generally. Cattle suitable for export markets have also sold well, but there was a large variation in cow price trends between markets.

Prices mostly higher

Vealer prices faired very well in Gippsland with numerous sales between 250¢ and 283¢/kg. Small operators chasing these high yielding vealers set a cracking pace, but it was the C muscle vealers that set a high standard.

Prices for these vealers were between 200¢ and 267¢ with some plainer vealers from 180¢ to 215¢/kg. Supplementary fed yearlings again sold well with lighter weights making 235¢ to 265¢, and heavier weight steers and heifers 200¢ to 245¢/kg.

Strong demand for medium to heavy weight yearlings saw grass finished steers make from 195¢ to 225¢ and heifers 188¢ to 229¢/kg. The surprise package was prices for bullocks and cows. Prime C muscle bullocks made from 185¢ to 203¢, averaging around 193¢/kg lwt. Grown steers peaked at 208¢ for steers weighing to 600kg lwt.

Cow supply remains on the smaller side with the NLRS recording 1,860 head only. Better quality beef cows made from 150¢ to 175¢, and better quality one and two score cows 138¢ to 156¢/kg. The bigger price differential was seen for the poor quality medium to light weight cows with most sales 110¢ to 138¢, but some only made from 82¢ to 105¢/kg.

The carcase weight price average varied between 279¢ at Camperdown to 316¢/kg at Wodonga. Overall it was estimated to be 299¢/kg cwt.

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