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Weekly Cattle Summary: Supplies Tight

11 November 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).

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Numbers curtailed by rain

Cattle supplies at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS eased five per cent, with yardings mixed across the regions. Mid week rain had a negative affect on turn off, with throughput at Dubbo falling 29 per cent. Elsewhere cattle supplies were generally stable, with prices and seasonal conditions dictating trends. Numbers are firm compared to the same time last year, and this is the third consecutive week that throughput has fallen.

Quality continues to be a feature reflecting the excellent seasonal conditions in spring. There were better numbers of finished cattle at Forbes and Casino, and most cows were showing good condition at Tamworth. At Singleton the yardings have been displaying more weight as the season progresses. There is still a wide variation in the quality and condition at most markets as was witnessed at Gunnedah in the grown steer section. The plainer quality and lower yields helped influence a cheaper trend. Cow supplies were tighter at Dubbo with only 400 head offered, while an excellent line up of grown steers were penned at Armidale.

Competition for young cattle was again formidable, as restockers, feeders and processors went head to head. The reoccurring rain is expected to give further confidence to producers, with restockers confident to take cattle through spring. The tighter supplies also gave rise to stiffer competition, as most markets were firm to dearer. The was reflected in the benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) gaining 4¢ on last week, to settle on 404.5¢/kg cwt – which is 10 per cent above the same time last year.

Yearling steers strong

Medium weight vealer steers to the trade reached 250¢ to average 244¢, firm on last week, as those to restockers gained 5¢ to average 247¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers improved 8¢ to 241¢ with the medium weights to the trade finished 2¢ cheaper on 221¢/kg. Nearly a quarter of the yearling steers were lightweights returning to the paddock, with restocker demand rock solid as light C2 pens averaged around 239¢/kg.

The light pens to feed were back 7¢ on 223¢, while medium weight C2’s to feeders were firm on 217¢/kg. The heavyweights to feed were 8¢ higher, as most pens sold between 209¢ and 235¢ after reaching 247¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to the feeders eased 4¢ to 203¢ as those to restockers settled around 207¢/kg. Medium weight C3s to the trade were firm on 202¢ with the heavyweights also steady on 190¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 1¢ dearer around 201¢ as the heavyweights to processors lifted 6¢ - to 189¢/kg. The C3 bullocks gained 3¢ to 184¢ as the four scores were 4¢ dearer on 189¢/kg or $1,195/head. Cows mostly sold to a slightly dearer trend, as the heavyweight three scores averaged 151¢ and the D4 pens settled on 157¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Numbers decline

The supply of stock at markets early in the week climbed with Toowoomba, Warwick and the Roma store sale recording larger numbers. However, as the week progressed with harvest in full swing across southern Queensland, numbers reduced at Dalby. Supply also fell dramatically at Longreach and the Roma prime sale as livestock producers are clearly holding onto stock as herd rebuilding intensifies across the cattle producing areas. The overall supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS fell 17 per cent.

The standard of the young cattle was very mixed in places while some good samples of heavy steers, bullocks and cows were penned. Ongoing rainfall from scattered storms maintained the positive sentiment amongst restocker buyers. As a result young lightweight yearling steers and heifers continued to improve 3¢ to 6¢/kg. Local trade buyers were also very active in the market and lifted medium weight yearling steers 6¢, and the heifer portion also experienced price improvements of 6¢ to 13¢/kg. Despite a good supply of heavy weight yearling steers to feed being penned buyers were able to absorb the numbers plus lift prices 3¢/kg.

Buyer attendance in the export sections was good with some additional export operators back in the market. Values for heavy steers and bullocks early in the week improved 3¢ to 5¢ however by mid week a much stronger trend was evident and average prices jumped 8¢ to 10¢/kg. Cows followed a similar trend with prices at markets early in the week regaining the previous week's losses. This upward movement in price continued as the week progressed and across all markets good heavy cows averaged 3¢/kg better.

Export classes dearer

A small number of calves to restockers sold around 231¢ with some to 250.2¢ while trade descriptions averaged 223¢/kg. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors sold around 203¢ with some to butchers at 238¢/kg. A large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at a top of 269.2¢ with most 3¢ dearer at 240¢/kg. Medium weights to feed made to 248¢ to average 217¢/kg.

Heavy weights averaged close to 207¢ with sales to 220.2¢, while local trade descriptions mostly sold around 199¢ with some to 218.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed restockers and the trade made from 215¢ to 224¢ with some returning to the paddock at 235.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to local butchers made to 238.2¢ with most at 201¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter gained 5¢ to average 197¢ and sold to 206.2¢/kg. Bullocks across all markets sold 7¢ dearer at 198¢ with a number of pens to 207.2¢, while a small of heavy weights made to 200¢/kg to return $1,520/head. Medium weight three score cows averaged 141¢ and heavy three scores averaged 150¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 177.2¢ with a fair sample at 164¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Reduced numbers

After a mainly weaker physical market trend last week, there was a smaller mixed quality yarding at the SA LE that sold to fluctuating competition from the limited field of local butchers, wholesalers and processors. Feeder buyers were less conspicuous and affected prices on this yarding that contained mainly young cattle. Vealer steers in small lines sold mainly to feeder activity at lower levels.

Light and medium weight yearling steers were cheaper as most sales fell back below 200¢/kg, while the heavy C3 yearling steers were dearer. Yearling heifers to mainly trade and processor competition were basically unchanged. Limited numbers of grown steers were cheaper, a few grown heifers dearer, and most cows to processors losing ground.

Naracoorte’s mixed quality yarding contained some very good quality B muscled vealers, supplementary fed yearlings and lines of pastoral bred heifers that had been finished on lucerne pastures.

Mt. Gambier’s improved quality yarding tended to sell to solid SA and Victorian trade, supermarket and processor competition. Feeder and restocker orders were also active, albeit only sourcing limited numbers of vealer and yearling steers and heifers together with a few light bulls, as the trade tended to source the largest percentage at each market. There were fresh quality runs of B muscled vealer steers and good quality lines of grown steers at both sales that sold at basically unchanged prices.

Millicent had increased numbers of the districts well bred vealers that sold to steady trade and processor competition. There were only small lines of grown steers, cows and bulls available.

Fluctuating demand

It was a week of fluctuating demand as the trade tried to reel back prices for most categories. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 215¢ to 240¢ for the B muscled and 205¢ to 228¢ for the C muscled at prices generally 1¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases were from 201¢ to 243¢, or unchanged to 16¢/kg dearer for C2 lightweights.

Vealer heifers to the trade sold from 195¢ to 235¢, with C3 lightweights 2¢ dearer and the B muscled 7¢/kg less. Yearling steer C3 medium and heavyweights sold from 174¢ to 213¢ to be 1¢ to 4¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales tended to range between 160¢ and 205¢, with the C3 sales unchanged to 5¢ dearer and the C4 sales 5¢/kg cheaper. Feeders sourced C3 medium weights at firm prices averaging 190.5¢/kg.

Grown steer and bullock C3 to C5 sales were from 175¢ to 199¢ to be basically unchanged and were averaging 333¢/kg. Cow prices on smaller numbers tended to vary from unchanged to 11¢ dearer, and 3¢ to 7¢/kg less, as the D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 125¢ to 164¢, or 250¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Supply still low

Even though supply increased 25 per cent at the physical markets as reported by MLA’s NLRS following the public holiday affected markets last week, total numbers were still below fortnight ago levels. Wodonga was the largest selling centre again, with agents yarding solid numbers of young and grown cattle. Prices across the markets reported were mixed, with quality and competition dictating the trends. Generally the C muscle vealers and yearlings were lower, while it was across the export categories were most of the variation was recorded.

While there was a full panel of buyers present at some markets, there were also a numbers of yards that had a reduced competition, which was a major reason behind the cheaper prices. It is also becoming apparent that buyers are becoming more selective in their purchases as the over conditioned and heavy weight lines were being discounted. There was however still some isolated good prices achieved in both young and grown cattle, with quality still a feature.

There has been continued strong competition from restockers and at times feedlots, with light yearling cattle particularly in demand. This has been due to the store cattle market prices lifting further, which is seeing producers returning to the prime markets in attempt to secure cattle to take advantage of the current pasture availability. There is a forecast for further rain in the coming weeks which will only increase producers desire to purchase cattle. This should ensure that graziers can hold onto stock through the warmer months, with fodder reserves high.

Varied prices

Small numbers of top end quality vealer steers sold to 264¢ as most vealers made from 190¢ to 245¢/kg. Supplementary fed medium weight yearling steers sold to 240¢, while most pens sold between 180¢ and 215¢/kg with heavy weights in the largest numbers. Due to varied quality yearling heifers sold across a wide range with around 60% selling from 175¢ to 205¢/kg. However, the D muscle yearling heifers made between 155¢ and 185¢/kg and were slightly cheaper overall.

Sales of grown steers and bullocks were generally 2¢ lower as the grown steers sold to 205¢ to generally range from 183¢ to 198¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers that were slightly underdone sold to feeders, with prices ranging from 194¢ to 201¢/kg. The prime C muscle bullocks made 180¢ to 196¢ with other bullocks sold making from 157¢ to 188¢/kg.

There was also variation in cow prices as the two and three score lines sold from 155¢ to 175¢/kg. The four, five and six score cows made mostly 140¢ to 168¢/kg to remain firm. However, there were some six score cows, that made between 96¢ and 137¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 305¢/kg cwt.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Saleyard supplies firm

Conditions in the far north of WA have remained moist as the wet season looms. Further to the south the majority of pastoral regions have remained moderate, with agents reporting temperatures are still mild enough to see mustering continue in both the Murchison and Gascoyne regions. Apart from some light rainfall early in the week, the majority of days were fine and dry. This allowed producers in the southern Ag regions to return to hay making and other harvest, which were both halted due to the recent weeks of wet weather.

There continue to be reports of a down grading of both grain and hay in some areas following on from the wet conditions and the feeder sectors remains hopeful of cheaper food sources for this season. The majority of areas have now seen their pastures hay off with only areas in the south western corner remaining green, but despite this most growing has now been completed.

Saleyard numbers were very similar to the previous week with Muchea again the largest of the three weekly saleyards, but comparatively to the same period last year, total numbers continued to be considerably lower. Processors continue to report tight supplies of cattle throughout the southern regions of WA and this supply pressure is still a heavy influence of prices. Pastoral supplies, although lower continued to account for a healthy percentage of Muchea’s yarding. The volumes of trade and heavy weight cattle remained tight, cow numbers continued to be very healthy given the strong physical markets of late with vealer volumes again only fair.

Feeder demand maintained The strong seasonal conditions this year continues to influence vealer turn off, which is well below the volumes seen at this period last year. However, with Great Southern announcing the start of it’s annual two day sales in the first week of December this will surely change.

Heavy weight classes were again sold in moderate supply this week with the majority remaining of medium weight. Demand continues to be very strong from both the feeder and restocker sectors, with processor enquiry limited and very selective. The market saw some slight decrease in overall competition this week, but any market movement was very limited with overall comparatives similar. Trade weight yearling supplies were moderate in saleyards this week.

Feeder demand remained very strong on weights up to 430kg lwt with a consistent local trade inquiry also recorded in both sexes. There were reasonable percentages of yearling stores see in physical markets this week. Feeder and restocker demand remained high and guaranteed solid market conditions. Heavy weight steers, bullocks and grown heifers all recorded a solid trade inquiry, while a good quality cow presentation this week enjoyed a firm to slightly stronger processor inquiry that lifted prices marginally.

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