Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 28 October 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Steady supply

The availability of stock across the state at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS hovered around the previous week's level. Markets in the south-east corner of the state experienced a lift in numbers, while supply at the Roma store sale was down, and numbers were significantly lower at Mareeba following some heavy rain over the past week.

Buyer attendance in the young cattle sections across all markets was good and some additional exporters were back in the market early in the week, however by late week markets a few export buyers were absent from the buying panel. Restockers continued to display confidence in the market and prices generally improved for lightweight yearling steers and heifers and in some centres gains of 10¢/kg was fairly common. This demand for lightweight lines was also pushed on by increased activity from local and southern processors on slaughter categories. Queensland feedlot buyers were very motivated to secure suitable cattle to feed and prices jumped accordingly. Well bred medium weight lines in Dalby experienced a lift of over 20¢/kg. A fair sample of heavy weight yearling steers to feed across all markets averaged 7¢/kg better.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter mostly sold to a firm market, nevertheless buyers were selective with only top quality lines being in demand, while those with less finish met a cheaper market. Cow prices varied as the week progressed with most classes early in the week meeting a firm trend. However by mid week three scores lost ground in value by 3¢ to 7/c, and by late week markets this trend turned around with prices improving by 3¢ to 6¢/kg.

Feeders noticeably dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 213¢ and made to 230¢, and restocker lines made to 257.2¢ to average 229¢/kg. A large selection of vealer heifers sold to local and southern processors 2¢ dearer at 206¢ with a few to butchers at 233.2¢/kg. A good supply of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 4¢ dearer at 237¢ with some well bred lines to 268.2¢/kg. Medium weights to feed averaged 17¢ better at 226¢ with one large consignment reaching 260.2¢/kg. Heavy categories to feed improved 7¢ to average 205¢ with sales to 225.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed and restockers averaged 218¢ and 220¢/kg respectively. Medium weights to the trade averaged 191¢ and sold to 231¢ while heavyweights to the supermarket trade made to 217.6¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 208.2¢ to average 192¢/kg. A good run of heavy bullocks mostly sold around 195¢ with some supplementary fed lines to 207.2¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks made to 189.2¢ to average 175¢/kg. Medium weight PTIC cows sold to restockers at a top of 171¢ with most just under 150¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows to processors averaged 145¢ and four scores 161¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to the occasional 180¢ with a good sample close to 167¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Cattle supplies stable

Cattle yardings were only slightly higher at the physical markets reported by MLA's NLRS, with throughput two per cent higher. Supplies were mixed across the regions, although total throughput is at the highest level of recent weeks, with few disruptions affecting yardings. Isolated storms and showers were recorded over much of the state, with any moisture more than welcome in many regions. Wagga penned the largest yarding, of which most pens were of excellent quality given the improved seasonal condition in the Riverina. Dubbo was the next largest market, followed closely by Gunnedah and CTLX.

The quality of cattle was again excellent in general, with producers quitting adequately finished cattle. This was particularly evident with young cattle, with processors securing the majority of numbers. Cattle that are not quite finished were in reasonable numbers, with most of these lines secured by feedlots. Restocker and background orders competed on store vealer steers and heifers.

Young cattle demand was again higher at the majority of markets, with Northern restocker orders underpinning several markets in the Central West. Feedlots also entered the fray from time to time, with processors forced to pay strong prices to secure prime cattle.

The increasing competition was also reflected in the over the hooks (OTH) rates, with processors lifting rates in a bid to secure greater numbers. This week medium weight (220 - 260kg cwt) yearling steers averaged 349¢/kg cwt - which is nine per cent higher year-on-year. Grown cattle prices were a shade weaker at most sales, with the climbing A$ and climbing supply values placing pressure prices.

Export categories cheaper

Restocker orders were active on suitable young cattle, signalling that producer confidence has continued through the spring. Light vealer steers to restockers were firm to 2¢ dearer, mainly selling from 242¢ to 250¢/kg. Vealer heifers returning to the paddock topped at 248¢, while the pens to the trade settled on 234¢/kg. Yearling steers to restock mostly averaged 221¢ to 234¢, while the heifer portion sold 4¢ dearer 210¢/kg. Yearling steers to feeders gained 4¢ to 10¢, selling from 218¢ to 226¢/kg. Medium weight heifers to feeders were stable on 198¢, while the heavyweights to the trade sold up to 2¢ higher, ranging from 191¢ to 206¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling steer prices were stable on 202¢/kg.

Grown steers to feedlot orders ranged from 194¢ through to 211¢ and were up to 4¢/kg cheaper overall. The better quality heavy pens destined for slaughter improved in numbers, as weaker demand left prices 7¢ to 12¢ cheaper, selling around 188¢/kg. The C4 bullocks eased by 6¢ and averaged 189¢/kg or $1,226/head. Medium weight D2 cows slipped were firm on 141¢, while the D3 pens averaged 152¢/kg. Heavy cows were also cheaper, although prices remain historically strong. The D4 lines were 5¢ cheaper on 159¢, after sales topped at a whopping 173¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Reduced yardings

The SA LE's slightly larger yarding contained mixed quality runs of mainly young cattle that tended to sell to a dearer trend from the usual local and interstate buyers. Feeder and restocker buyers threw down the gauntlet as they sourced lightweight vealer steers, light and medium weight yearling steers and heifers together with plain quality cows and lightweight bulls. Vealers were dearer to both the trade and feeder orders for the steers, and the heifers to local butchers and wholesalers. Yearling steers and heifers also sold at improved levels, with only lightweight heifers cheaper to feeders and the trade. Small numbers of grown steers were dearer, grown heifers unchanged and manufacturing steers much dearer, while the cows were basically unaltered.

Naracoorte's and Mt. Gambier's numbers came back on runs that featured local and pastoral breds. These sold to steady trade, supermarket and processor competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers at generally lower levels due to not all making purchases and the varying quality offered. Feeder and restocker orders were also quite active at generally lower prices for vealer and yearling steers and heifers, together with lightweight bulls.

Millicent's smaller yarding also tended to sell at lower levels despite some very good quality vealers being penned. Lightweight B muscled vealers steers and heifers attracted solid wholesale demand albeit at reduced prices. Most cattle generally sold at prices unchanged to 10¢/kg cheaper, with only isolated sales being dearer. A high A$ also had some affect on grown steer and cow prices, and was not helped by some buyers not operating.

Young cattle prices variable

While young cattle sold to fluctuating demand, the export categories tended to lose ground. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 190¢ to 255¢ for the C and B muscled at prices generally 1¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases of mainly lightweight steers were from 200¢ to 240¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade sold mostly between 175¢ and 248¢ at prices that varied from 7¢ to 14¢ dearer, and 5¢ to 13¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steer B and C muscled sales generally ranged between 170¢ and 220¢ to be 1¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restockers sourced light and medium weight C2 and C3 steers from 185¢ to 216¢, with some sales dearer and others cheaper. Yearling C3 and C4 medium and heavy heifers sold from 170¢ to 204¢, or 4¢ to 6¢/kg less. Feeder orders sourced C2 and C3 medium weights from 166¢ to 212¢ at prices unchanged to 3¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers and bullocks were 2c¢ to 5¢ cheaper as most sold from 172c¢ to 197¢, or 310¢ to 345¢/kg cwt. Cow prices tended to be unchanged to 9¢ cheaper as most D3 to C6 beef cows sold from 134¢ to 165¢, or 260¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Good quality offered

Cattle supplies were again higher, although throughput was only up by one per cent at markets reported by MLA's NLRS. Competition was weaker, which resulted in cattle generally selling at cheaper prices. Restocker and at times feedlot buyers were active, although most of this was for lines of plainer shape, and secondary vealers and yearlings. This did push some prices 10¢ to 15¢/kg higher, signalling the store market has not lost confidence in the warmer months. Most purchases by processors were 2¢ to 12¢/kg cheaper, with competition noticeably weaker across the state, following the already easing trend from last week.

While young cattle quality continues to vary, there were a large number of good quality cattle available. A growing numbers of drafts are showing plenty of weight and condition, with heavier cattle hitting the market after the delays through winter. Even though there was a cheaper price trend, higher dressing percentages would have been beneficial also for processors. Even though overall supply was larger there were fewer grown cattle penned, particularly bullocks and cows. This was in reaction to the softer prices of the past few weeks, although prices remain robust given the higher A$.

Strong demand in the north from feeders and restockers had a positive impact on the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI), climbing 4.25¢ for the week to settle on 401¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday's markets. The Melbourne Cup public holiday next week will impact supply, and while only Pakenham on Tuesday is not operating, many other sales are affected.

Varied prices

The top of the vealers and supplementary fed light weight yearling steers sold between 230¢ and 267¢, which was up to 10¢/kg lower. When restocker competition was evident on some of the plainer light young cattle they sold from 200¢ to 238¢/kg. Most yearling steers and heifers sold from 175¢ to 210¢/kg, with trade demand weakening. As yearling supply is increasing, heavyweight three score and four score and over conditioned lines, particularly heifers are being discounted with most selling from 155¢ to 185¢/kg.

Despite there being fewer grown steers, bullocks and cows yarded prices fell further. This was a consistent trend across the eastern states, with export processor demand softening with the A$ lifting. Grown steers generally made 188¢, with sales topping at 200¢/kg. The C4 bullocks mainly made 185¢/kg or $1,424/head.

There was more restocker activity on the lighter cow pens, as producers look for future breeders. Good quality beef cows sold from 148¢ to 165¢, as leaner cows ranged from 128¢ to 150¢/kg. The plainer medium and heavy cows sold from 95¢ to 135¢/kg. The carcase weight price average was estimated to be 307¢/kg cwt.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Lower local numbers

Much of WA has seen solid rainfall this week. Unseasonally early rainfall has been seen in the far north of the State, while in the southern Ag districts rainfall recordings have been the highest for at least twelve years. For many in the Midwest this has hampered harvesting with solid falls of approximately 50mm quite possibly damaging grain quality. This has also been the case in areas further to the south where the majority of areas have now got hay on the ground in windrows and awaiting baling. Much of this will be down graded from export hay to a domestic product but it is still too early to ascertain the extent of this.

Feed conditions for areas in the north remain very strong, while the traditional cattle growing areas of the south continue to enjoy very solid growing and feed conditions. Cattle from the northern pastoral regions again accounted for the majority of animals sold in saleyards this week with locally sourced drafts again seeing seasonally low supplies. Muchea subsequently remained the largest of the three sales, followed by the southwest with the Great Southern sale seeing a very large fall in numbers. The latter was affected by wet weather, road closures in several of its surrounding sales and an overall lack of cattle. The numbers of heavy weight steers and heifers remained in tight supply in saleyards. Trade weight yearling volumes were also negligible, while there were lower supplies of new season vealers seen this week. Cow numbers remained solid, while pastoral bull numbers lifted these class supplies.

Drop off in quality and weight

There were lower numbers of new season vealers penned in physical markets this week. This is not surprising given the very strong feed conditions, currently and seen this year with producers quite happy to add more weight to their calves this year. The majority remained of medium and lightweight. Demand from all the sectors of industry competed strongly throughout the classes with little or no change realised in recently seen high price levels.

Trade weight yearling quality was lower this week and more mixed. This lower quality did impact demand and prices with both steers and heifers both recording overall lower prices. Although store yearling quality was very mixed a strong feeder and restocker demand continued to see firm market conditions remain in place. The majority of heavy weight steers and bullocks were sourced from pastoral regions. A lower quality saw both weight ranges record a weaker trade demand with most sales lower by 5c to 8c/kg lwt across the classes. Heavy weight mature heifer sales were more insulted from this, while the very strong demand seen for many weeks in cow classes waned. Quality and weight were also more mixed in cow classes and generally the market fell by 3c to 5c/kg lwt.

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