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Weekly Cattle Summary

09 September 2011
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Great Southern returns to usual roster

Seasonal conditions in the traditional cattle areas of the southwest recorded reasonable rain during the end of last week. This will further enhance growing conditions for pastures. Feed levels are solid in these areas and are well above the poor conditions that were realised this time last year.

There was some further rain also recorded in the Gascoyne and lower Murchison regions, while standing feed conditions in the majority of pastoral areas remains good. This has assisted cattle quality in southern markets proving the strong seasonal conditions that have been enjoyed in the north since December last year.

The saleyards roster returned to normal the Great Southern sale back to a weekly basis. This coupled with a larger yarding at Muchea caused total weekly numbers to rise, despite the south-western sale remaining a rather small sized market. The volumes of pastoral cattle at Muchea were large and dominated the total yarding.

There were good supplies of pastoral steers, heifers, cows and bulls available, while the supplies of local heavy weight steers and heifers remained limited. Trade weight yearling supplies either grass or supplementary fed had relatively limited representation, while the volumes of locally sourced cows were also tight. The supplies of young locally bred store grades were also only moderate for this time of year.

As has been the case in recent time industry continues to discuss the availability of numbers going forward throughout the spring, given the very large numbers that were sold off during the drought of the previous year.

Heavy export cattle ease

The numbers of calves and new season vealers remained very limited with Muchea yarding just 154 head in its calf market. The good feed supplies currently available continued to drive a strong restocker demand and this coupled with solid trade and local retailer competition allowed prices to remain at firm to dearer levels.

The very limited numbers of trade weight yearlings were predominately supplementary fed. These continued to record similar trade and retailer competition realising firm values despite the fact that both quality and weight were spread over wide ranges in both sexes.

Grass finished trade weight yearling supplies were also negligible and once again firm trade and feeder sector demand existed. Local store quality and weight continued to vary. Generally quality was only average and coupled with a more conservative feeder and restocker demand saw the market retreat from the very high levels of the previous week.

There were reasonable supplies of heavy grown pastoral steers with local supplies tight. Processor demand weakened on both of these and prices fell by as much as 15¢/kg. This was also the case on heavy weight cows where prices eased six cents/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Cows in demand

The number of cattle yarded at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS increased slightly. The distribution of cattle penned remained similar at each major saleyard as warmer weather conditions begin to prevail across most regions.

In Roma, numbers remained similar at the store sale as buoyant prices attracted cattle to market, but, positive seasonal conditions influenced some producers to hold onto to livestock. In Dalby, there was little change in the numbers penned and vealers made up a large percentage of the yarding. Heavy young cattle were in fair numbers consisting of a good supply of both trade and feeder yearling steers and heifers. In Longreach, a similar sized yarding was offered with slightly less light young cattle penned than last week as greater numbers of heavy yearlings and grown steers were yarded.

Overall, the quality of cattle yarded was fair to good across all categories. The numbers of grown steers yarded remained similar to last week, while numbers of heifers penned declined, and cows jumped 23 per cent. Light weight yearling steers were in good supply and values improved with restocker buyer's confidence appearing optimistic about the spring and summer seasonal conditions.

Strong demand from southern processor buyers continued to be a major influence on the market with plenty of good competition displayed between local and NSW buyers across most of the centres. Export grades of steers jumped in price, but heavy weight yearling steers to the trade eased in price. All grades of cows met a very positive market.

Prices lift

Calves returned to the paddock at a top of 230c/kg and averaged 222c/kg, while those to processors sold to 234c and averaged 216c/kg. Most vealer steers were bought by restockers at a high of 265c and averaged 248c, up 26c/kg, while those to processors averaged 201c/kg.

Southern processors paid to 241c/kg. Light yearling steers reached 256c and averaged 233c, to be five cents/kg dearer. Medium weight yearling steers to feed met buoyant buyer demand and ranged between 205c and 209c/kg. Heavy weight yearling steers sold to 222c and averaged 181c, which was 10c/kg cheaper. Light yearling heifers returned to the paddock to 222c and averaged 211c, while those purchased by feedlots made to 214c and averaged 202c/kg. Heavy yearling heifers to the trade sold to 219c and averaged 194c/kg.

Medium weight grown steers topped at 206c and averaged 185c/kg, to be close to firm. Bullocks sold to 198c and averaged 187c/kg. Grown heifers to processors sold to 191c and averaged 175c/kg. Medium weight three score cows reached 161c with most around 145c, which was eight cents/kg dearer, while four scores sold to 167c/kg. Good heavy weight four score cows made to 171c as most sold closer to161c/kg. Heavy bulls sold to 174c/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Prices generally dearer

Throughput across MLA's NLRS reported markets fell seven per cent with large reductions recorded at Forbes and Dubbo contributing greatly to the trend as most centres were able to yard similar or slightly increased numbers. When compared to the corresponding week last year, supply was up 16 per cent.

The EYCI at the completion of Thursday's markets was 403.75¢ which was 5.50¢/kg cwt higher on last week. This is the third time in 2011 the EYCI has climbed over the 400¢/kg cwt mark. Assisting the EYCI is the strong competition for the finished young cattle which are difficult to source at this time of year, as well as restockers looking to purchase stock to go onto growing pastures. Feeders have been actively looking to secure cattle but in many cases have not been able to pay prices paid for cattle going to slaughter or restockers.

Light and medium weight vealer steers returning to the paddock were two cents to 12¢ dearer with most sales from 234¢ and 258¢/kg as lightweights at Casino broke the 300¢/kg lwt barrier on a couple of occasions. Medium weights to the trade gained two cents and ranged from 224¢ to 229¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to the trade were up to seven cents dearer as many sales were in the mid to late 220¢/kg range.

A large run of light yearling steers purchased by restockers sold to 273.2¢ to average 232¢ as similar lines to feeders sold closer to 222¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade gained 8¢ to sell around 223¢ as those to restockers and feeders were in a range from 210¢ to 221¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feeders were three to eight cents dearer to generally make 203¢ to 209¢/kg.

Good heavy weights to slaughter gained six cents to averaged 210¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to restockers and feeders were firm to two cents dearer and ranged from 206¢ to 212¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade were unchanged at 208¢ after topping at 250¢kg as the heavy weights eased slightly to 197¢/kg.

All of the light grown steer were secured by feeders and restockers while feeders were also active on the medium and heavy weights pushing prices up by six cents to 11¢kg. The lightweights returning to the paddock averaged 194¢ as the medium and heavy weights to feeders ranged mostly from 194¢ to 196¢/kg. The few medium weights purchased for slaughter averaged 186¢ as heavy steers were firm ranging making from 191¢ to 194¢kg. Bullocks also sold to a dearer trend after selling to 202¢ to average 196¢/kg.

Light cows were also non-existent as the better covered medium and heavy weights sold to a dearer trend. The leaner medium weight cows eased four cents to 134¢ as the D3s sold to 160.2c to average 149¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows sold to 173.6¢ with most closer to 161¢/kg. A single heavy high yielding cow at Singleton topped at 176¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Quality improves

The SA LE's yarding increased slightly and contained a good offering of young cattle, but mixed quality runs of D muscled grown heifers and cows. Naracoorte is now in a split sale mode young cattle being offered Tuesday, with the cows and bulls being sold on Friday's. Mt Gambier had a larger yarding that featured excellent quality runs of medium and heavy grown steers and bullocks.

The newly merged processor created some confusion early before it was agreed to start with Teys Australia before nominating where the cattle were to go. While it was thought by many with this merger that prices may fall with the reduced buying strength, the solid demand tended to leave steer and cow prices basically unchanged.

The SA LE's yarding sold to solid local and interstate trade and processor buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were also very active on lightweight vealers and yearlings at generally dearer levels. A handful of grown steers were dearer, with most cows selling at improved levels.

Naracoorte's and Mt. Gambier's sales sold to strong SA and Victorian trade, some supermarket and processor competition. There were some good quality heavy steers and bullocks from Roxby Downs, while the other pastoral breds from WA had been finished on local pastures. The yardings tended to attract a fluctuating trend albeit generally dearer as only vealer steers lost ground on last week's much improved prices. Feeder and restocker orders were also active over a wide range of quality.

Strong demand

With tightening numbers interstate there was strong SA and Victorian demand at all markets to source supplies. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 200¢ to 279¢, with isolated sales dearer and most unchanged to 10¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced mainly C1 and C2 lightweights from 190¢ to 234¢ at prices two to 14¢/kg less.

Vealer heifers in runs of mainly lightweights sold to the trade from 190¢ to 277¢ at prices varying from three cents cheaper and up to 21¢/kg dearer where quality suited. Feeders and restockers purchased C and D muscled lightweight heifers from 168¢ to 225¢/kg. Yearling steer C2 and C3 sales ranged between 190¢ and 220¢ to be six to eight cents dearer, while B2 sales were nine cents cheaper selling to 230¢/kg. Feeders sourced C2 medium and heavyweight steers from 160¢ to 216¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were from 180¢ to 212¢ or two to 10¢/kg dearer.

Grown steer C3 to C5 sales were basically unchanged selling from 175¢ to 200¢, or 320¢ to 355¢/kg cwt. Cow prices remained similar as most D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold mainly from 130¢ to 172¢, and generally 280¢ to 320¢/kg cwt.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Vealers in demand

Cattle supply lifted seven per cent at MLA's NLRS reported markets with Shepparton and Wodonga markets accounting for around 42 per cent of the state throughput. Young cattle accounted for just over 20 per cent of supply and were outnumbered by cows. When compared to the corresponding time last year supply is up by 12 per cent.

Even though overall supply was larger, there were fewer vealers offered, and their quality was generally not as good. This created excellent demand for the top quality vealers which reached 287.6c and there were several sales over 275c/kg.

The slight lift in supply, coupled with some plainer quality, and price trends tending to be on the easier side as most categories ranged from firm to five cents/kg cheaper. The recent strong store cattle sale prices however has assisted competition from feeders and restockers at prime markets

At the completion of Wednesday's markets, the EYCI climbed to 404.25¢, which was 6.75¢ above the same time last week, and 34.25¢/kg cwt higher year-on-year. This was the third time in 2011 the EYCI past the 400¢ mark, it was also the highest level since the record 420.75¢/kg cwt was registered in late March this year. After Thursday's markets, the EYCI eased slightly to 403.75¢, however this was still a gain of 5.50¢/kg cwt on last week.

While vealer supply was reduced, heavy grown steer numbers remained solid. Given that we are emerging from a more traditional winter, the quality of a lot of these cattle was good. This assisted demand for steers and bullocks but a cheaper trend was still evident, while cow prices eased two to four cents/kg. Bull prices were mostly higher.

Quality impacts prices

Away from the small number of sales at high levels, most vealers made between 200¢ and 265¢/kg. The plainer quality lines though ranged from 180¢ to 200¢/kg Supplementary fed yearling steers and heifers made from 210¢ to 265¢/kg. Demand varied for grass finished cattle, depending mostly on weight. Light and medium yearling steers sold from 195¢ to 236¢, and 170¢ to 215¢/kg for heifers. Heavy yearling steers sold from 182¢ to 200¢, with the heifer portion ranging from 158¢ to 192¢/kg.

The quality of the grown steers and bullocks was mostly of a high standard. Only a few medium weights were offered as the C3 and C4 heavy weights averaged 190¢ after selling to 200¢/kg. Bullock sales were mostly in the early 190¢/kg range. The manufacturing steers made 172¢ to 189.5¢/kg. The better end of the light grown heifers ranged from 170c to 190¢ as the heavy weights sold to 193.2¢/kg.

Cows, under the shear weight of supply were mostly cheaper. The better quality beef cows sold from 145¢ to 175¢, and most dairy lines made between 110¢ to 163¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 309¢, down nine cents/kg on last week.

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