Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - There has been mixed and varied quality of cattle at most markets across Australia although Western Australia reported dearer prices for heavier cattle and Queensland an improvement in quality, according to Meat and Livestock Australia's weekly cattle summaries for each state.
calendar icon 23 September 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Solid Rainfall Recorded

The southern areas of Western Australia recorded solid rainfall across the majority of the Agricultural districts over the past week with several cold fronts bringing much needed moisture. This has aided crops and pastures throughout the southwest of the state an rejuvenated a flagging season which had showed so much promise. The majority of areas recorded at least 15mm for the week. Further to this forecasts have predicted more rain into the early parts of next week.

The north of the state enjoyed another week of fine and dry weather with temperatures still on the rise, which will ultimately bring an end to this year's mustering activity.

Physical market supply remained only moderate for this time of year. Muchea remained the largest of the weekly sales, but again failed to reach the two thousand head mark with the south western sale again the smallest. Pastoral cattle numbers remained buoyant and continued to account for the majority of Muchea's total numbers.

New season vealer supplies were moderately larger at both Muchea and Mt Barker. Trade weight yearling numbers continued to be only moderate. There were more limited supplies of locally bred store yearling and quality throughout the classes was again very mixed. Trade, restocker and feeder demand continued to be very solid throughout the week.

These once again included solid supplies of grown steers, heifers, cows and bulls. There were larger volumes of locally bred cows penned in physical markets, while heavy weight steer and heifers supplies remained very limited.

Heavy Cattle Dearer

The larger supply of new season vealers remained of a mixed quality and weight, with many being lightweight. Local trade and retailers maintained their presence in the market, while restocker activity continued at recent solid levels also.

The market maintained its levels throughout the classes. The small numbers of supplementary fed lots of yearlings were of mixed quality and weight.

Trade demand however showed little or no change with the market holding firm with this also the case for the small volumes of grass finished yearling steers and heifers. The quality and weight of the stores yarded remained very mixed. Generally there was stronger restocker and feeder demand which resulted in the majority of classes recorded firm to slightly dearer prices.

The values of both local and pastoral drafts of heavy grown steers and bullocks rose by up to 10¢/kg. This was the result of increased processor competition. This was also the case in grown heifer categories.

There was increased weight and improved quality in the larger supplies of locally bred cows and this coupled with a stronger demand assisted in the dearer trend.

Numbers Surge into Spring

Cattle yardings in the physical markets in New South Wales reported by MLA's NLRS lifted 26 per cent week on week, with the majority of selling centres penning more cattle. Supply certainly appears to be building momentum - with this week's throughput the largest since early May. State wide numbers are also 21 per cent higher year-on-year.

Young cattle numbers, in particular yearlings have been responsible for the increased turnoff, but the reasons for this remain mixed. Some pockets of the state are experiencing less favourable seasonal conditions and producers here have offloaded light cattle this week.

This was primarily the case at Gunnedah, Inverell and Scone where the proportion of yearling steers and heifers less than 330kg lwt increased.

However, other regions have been more fortunate and received invaluable winter rains. It is here that the quality and condition of younger cattle has been excellent, with early developing drafts now in the market.

Wagga, Tamworth and CTLX all reported a significant lift in quality, with producers offloading more numbers given the buoyant young cattle prices. Grown cattle were in limited numbers, especially cows and the grown steers consignments were generally impressive in quality.

Even though numbers were significantly higher across the Eastern States the recent run of high prices was maintained, with markets reporting firm price trends. Underpinning the market has been restocking and backgrounding orders. Producers with fodder to burn are securing unfinished vealers and yearlings of all weights.

The proportion of cattle returning to the paddock has been strong, with interstate competition from Victoria helping prices.

Mixed Quality

Cattle supplies at physical markets in Victoria reported by MLA's NLRS increased 14 per cent, which was in line with the trends observed across the eastern states.

With spring conditions taking hold several well finished yearling cattle were sighted, with producers keen to turn off numbers given the buoyant prices.

Throughput levels are expected to expand into October and supply for this week was 10 per cent higher year-on-year.

Prices were rather mixed from market to market, while competition was solid at some sales, it did not hold up at others. By the end of the week a generally weaker price trend had emerged.

However, all major processors are chasing numbers and are now supporting markets interstate. This is primarily due to supply lifting significantly, and quality has generally improved across all grades in NSW and SA. The benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) though was 0.50¢ up week on week to 402.25¢/kg cwt.

Quality too was varied from the plain unfinished lines through to excellent well finished and potentially high yielding lots. Most markets offered more plain quality, and poorly bred cattle as producers try to capture the historically good prices available at present. The top quality vealers, light weight yearlings, and supplementary fed yearlings sold close to firm. But a larger percentage of plain condition young cattle eased 2¢ to 6¢/kg.

Despite solid demand from export processors at most markets, and good quality grown steers, bullocks and cows offered they still slipped 2¢ to 6¢/kg. Feeders and restockers were most active on European breed steers and heifers, and some Angus steers which were firm to 5¢/kg cheaper.

Prices Start to Ease

The heavily muscled vealer steers made 250¢ to 278¢, with most of the medium weight lines averaging closer to 245¢/kg. Most vealers though ranged from 195¢ to 250¢/kg. The light yearlings to the trade sold from 200¢ to 245¢/kg, with a larger percentage being heifers.

The supplementary fed yearlings topped 270¢, and averaged 4¢ lower on 255¢/kg. Medium and heavy yearling steers and heifers made from 168¢ to 205¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers reached 195¢ and were 7¢ lower on 184¢/kg. Heavy grown steers sold mostly between 185¢ and 198¢ and prices remained firm overall. Prime bullocks mainly sold from 180¢ to 195¢, with prices up to 7¢/kg lower as supplies lifted.

Even though cow quality improved prices were still cheaper, with competition easing. Leaner cows though, best suiting the 90CL grinding market met good demand. Larger numbers of dairy cows were offered, with the poorer lines making 90¢ to 142¢/kg. The larger frame Friesian cows in 2 and 3 score condition made 148¢ to 162¢/kg.

The better quality beef cows sold from 148¢ to 170¢/kg lwt, and the carcass weight price average over all cows was estimated to be 303¢/kg cwt.

Restockers Underpin Prices

Vealer steer numbers were limited and the lighter pens to restockers were firm to 13¢ cheaper with most pens ranging from 238¢ to 245¢/kg.

Vealer heifers to the trade were also cheaper, with the medium weight section averaging 225¢/kg. Restockers and backgrounding demand was mainly directed to lightweight yearlings, paying from 215¢ to 250¢/kg for steers under 330kg. Medium weights to feed and restocker were mostly 5¢ dearer, as the C2 drafts averaged from 217¢ to 235¢/kg.

Yearling heifers to restock were stable on 231¢ and those to feeders settled on 214¢/kg. The heavier yearlings over 400kg selling to trade buyers improved in quality and prices reflected this. Heavy steers topped at 235¢ and averaged firm on 205¢, while heifers finished 1¢ dearer on 195¢/kg.

Most of the grown steers were once again heavyweights, although the under conditioned lines to feeders were 3¢ cheaper on 195¢/kg. Medium weights to slaughter gained 4¢ -to 190¢ and the heavy C3 portion averaged 193¢/kg.

The C4 bullocks eased 3¢ overall, to mainly sell at 191¢/kg or $1,281/head. The market was back slightly despite the easing A$ but prices remain strong. Medium weight D3 pens were firm on 149¢ and the heavy D4 drafts topped at 174¢ and averaged 159¢/kg.

Varying Quality

The excellent prices being paid for lightweight vealers and yearlings by a myriad of orders over the past month in South Australia drew larger numbers out of the paddocks.

There was a slightly increased yarding at the SA LE, while Naracoorte's numbers rose to a level that will see Tuesday cattle sales starting at 8.30am. Despite Mt. Gambier's lower numbers they will also start at 8.30am from next week.

The SA LE featured improved quality runs of predominantly young cattle that sold erratically to the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were also active at fluctuating prices on mainly light and medium weight yearling steers and heifers, together with some light bulls.

The few grown steers and heifers sold at slightly lower levels, while a small yarding of cows attracted a marginally dearer trend.

Naracoorte's and Mt. Gambier's overall quality improved on mainly local bred cattle that also included some pastoral breeds as well.

The usual SA and Victorian trade and processor buyers were operating at both sales, albeit with one absent, a couple only sourcing limited numbers and one leaving the sale after the first run had been completed at Naracoorte.

Feeder and restocker orders were too the fore at Naracoorte where large good quality lines of predominantly well bred Angus light vealer steers and heifers that sold like the proverbial "hot cake".

There was limited demand the heavy cattle at Naracoorte, while all buyers were operating at Mt. Gambier with a South East processor a dominant buyer of the grown steers and heifers, together with many of the pastoral lines.

Erratic Trends

There were erratic trends due to the varying quality and limited demand from some buyers. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 209¢ to 271¢ with lightweights attracting the strongest demand at prices unchanged to 17¢/kg cheaper.

Feeder and restocker purchases of C2 mainly light Angus steers were from 200¢ to 246¢, with most prices 13¢ to 18¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade sold generally from 185¢ to 260¢ at prices that varied from 2¢ to 14¢ dearer, and 4¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper.

Feeder and restocker activity for the C2 heifers were from 185¢ to 235¢ at mainly dearer levels. Yearling C3 steers sold from 180¢ to 230¢, with the B muscled sales 200¢ to 241¢ to be unchanged to 11¢/kg dearer. Feeder orders secured C2 mainly medium weights from 190¢ to 216¢/kg at unchanged prices. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were between 166¢ and 212¢/kg.

Grown steer C3 to C5 sales ranged between 164¢ and 198¢ to be unchanged to 3¢ cheaper and were averaging 334¢/kg cwt. The D3 to C5 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 135¢ to 170¢ to be 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper, and mainly 270¢ to 320¢/kg cwt.

Improved Quality

Throughput lifted 13 per cent at physical markets in Queensland covered by MLA's NLRS. The increased supply of livestock was evenly distributed across most selling centres.

The largest increase in numbers was at Roma's prime sale which lifted by over 50 per cent. A large portion of Roma's yarding was drawn from the local supply area and the quality of cattle penned was improved on recent weeks.

Toowoomba also recorded a significant lift in numbers. The exception was the Dalby and Longreach markets where total numbers fell albeit only slightly. Overall, there was an improvement in the quality of both export and feeder classes of cattle and most prices reflected this trend. Young, well conditioned vealer steers and heifers met a more reserved buying gallery with most southern processor buyers less eager to fill orders than previous week.

Young light cattle returning to the paddock at cheaper prices as restocker demand eased slightly due to dry and hot weather conditions beginning to prevail across many parts of the State.

Meanwhile, yearling classes of steers to the domestic trade market sold to a dearer trend, but heavy yearling heifers to the supermarket trade lost ground last week's high prices. Feeder classes continued to move forward.

Grown steer quality was improved and most sold to a dearer trend. Medium weights lifted 7¢ while the large number of heavy steers and the bullocks were 3¢/kg dearer.

Heavy cows also enjoyed enhanced values but medium weight 4 scores lost ground. Bulls though sold to a more varied market with lightweights dearer as the medium and heavy weights were cheaper.

Prices Vary

The plainer muscled calves to slaughter sold to 236¢ and averaged 205¢, which was 13¢/kg cheaper as those to the trade suffered a similar fall to sell around 213c/kg.

Vealer steers returned to the paddock reached 256¢ and averaged 236¢, while those to processors made to 237¢ to sell around 211¢/kg. Most vealer heifers were in the medium weight range and sold to 229¢ and averaged 208¢, which was 4¢/kg cheaper.

Light yearling steers bought by restockers sold around 224¢ after selling to 240¢/kg, while competition between feedlot and restocker buyers for light yearling heifers resulted in a high of 226¢ and an average of 211¢/kg.

Yearling steers to the trade sold to a top of 225¢ with most sales from 186¢ and 197¢/kg. Good quality yearling heifers to the domestic trade market mostly sold around 194¢ which was 5¢/kg cheaper. Feedlots snapped-up store condition heavy yearling steers for around 186¢/kg.

Grown steers reached 206¢ and averaged 192¢, while bullocks sold to 201¢ and averaged 191¢, with both lifting 3¢/kg. Heavy 4 score cows to processors made to 176¢ and averaged 160¢/kg. The medium weight 4 score lines struggled to maintain the previous week's prices, while 3 score cows averaged 143¢/kg.

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