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Weekly Cattle Summary

25 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

Rain washes away supplies

Cattle yardings across the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS eased 12 per cent, with the wet weather curbing turn off late in the week. The higher numbers recorded over the last fortnight couldn’t be maintained due to the widespread rain and ongoing grain harvest. Consignments were stable early in the week, with the warmer weather and predicted rain encouraging producers to move cattle. The rain eventually came and the Thursday markets of Dubbo and Armidale were the hardest hit, with reports of up to 80mm of rain in the New England region. The Central West received slightly less rain, with cold and wet conditions prevailing.

The quality of young cattle was again strong for this time of year, as only a handful of supplies have begun to show the effects of the generally warmer conditions. Most of the yearling drafts are carrying plenty of weight, are in excellent condition after grazing winter oats crops or being supplementary fed.

Grown cattle are making up a higher than usual proportion of supplies, with producers taking cattle through to heavier weights due to the better grazing conditions. Cow pens are considerably heavier this year, with producers encouraged to put some weight on cull lines given the excellent prices for heavyweight cows.

Direct to works rates defied the seasonal trend and were again higher over all categories. Processor demand has strengthened with competition levels healthy, given the added interstate presence of several buyers. The lower A$ will also help export processors and international demand for beef is holding firm.

Restocker prices ease

Prices for lightweight vealer and yearling steers and heifers eased slightly, mainly as more store lines were offered. Light vealer steers to restock were two lower on 244¢, while vealer heifers averaged 224¢/kg. Yearling steers to restock and background were a marginal 2¢ cheaper, as most pens sold from 200¢ to 280¢/kg. The C2 pens to feed eased 7¢ to 219¢/kg.

Medium weight yearlings to feed held firm on 218¢ and restocker were prepared to pay up to 238¢/kg for medium weight steers. Yearling heifers to returning to the paddock mainly sold from 198¢ to 215¢, as the light pens to the trade made 208¢/kg. Heavy C3 heifers reached 224¢ and most pens selling to processors made 192¢/kg.

Medium grown steers to export feeders in solid numbers sold to a top of 214¢, and averaged 2¢ lower on 200¢/kg. The C3 heavy grown steers were firm on 193¢, while the better quality C4 drafts were 2¢ cheaper on 196¢/kg or $1,088/head. A handful of bullocks sold to 201¢ and mostly made around the 196¢/kg mark. The better quality, higher yielding medium weight cows sold 2¢ higher on 152¢, while the smaller framed pens made 143¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows topped at 177¢ and mainly sold at 159¢/kg.

South Australia

Reduced yardings

There were reduced yardings across all centres. Although, many South Eastern producers have decided to sell stock as many paddocks start to lose their greenness and take on that early summer brown hue after another week of warm drying conditions. Despite the smaller numbers available it was a generally cheaper sale week, with only isolated sales being dearer.

Overall quality improved at the SA LE and sold to strong competition provided by the usual trade and processor buyers, albeit with no interstate inquiry due to the small numbers being offered. Feeder orders were also active as they sourced a large percentage of the yearling steers and heifers and lightweight bulls. Limited numbers of vealers were offered, with the yearling steers and heifers again making up the majority of the yarding. Export numbers were limited with cows being the largest grade yarded.

Naracoorte’s mixed quality yarding featured mainly local bred cattle, as well as a few pens of pastoral breds with many having been supplementary fed. Mt. Gambier had a good quality yarding, while Millicent featured mainly good quality vealers.

Most of the usual SA and Victorian wholesale and processor buyers were present, albeit with a couple only sourcing limited numbers and some supermarket inquiry where quality suited on heavy vealer steers, together with yearling steers and heifers. Feeder and restocker orders were also very active on vealer and yearling steers, with some protracted bidding on medium and heavy Angus steers.

A cheaper trend

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 200¢ to 240¢ with lightweight B2 sales at the higher end to be generally 2¢ to 11¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced mainly lightweight Angus steers from 200¢ to 230¢/kg. Vealer heifers sold quite erratically between 180¢ and 228¢ to be mainly unchanged to 6¢/kg cheaper. Feeder purchased C2 and C3 lightweights from 185¢ to 217¢, or 2¢ dearer for the C3 heifers and up to 27¢/kg cheaper for the C2 lightweights. Yearling steer B2, C3 and C4 sales ranged between 170¢ and 215¢ at prices 2¢ to 3¢/kg less. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights sold from 170¢ to 200¢ to be virtually unchanged.

Grown steer and bullocks in good quality runs sold from 174¢ to 198¢, with C3 medium and heavyweight sales 5¢ cheaper, while the heavy C4 and C5 bullocks were 2¢ dearer at around a 325¢/kg cwt average.

Cow prices tended to remain unchanged with Naracoorte to resume Friday sales, as most medium and heavy beef cows sold from 130¢ to 161¢, or generally 255¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

Queensland

Steady supply

The overall supply of stock across the state at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS hovered around the previous week’s level with a variation in numbers. Throughput at some markets early in the week improved, however by mid-week with rain forecast the supply at Dalby fell by 32 per cent. Overall quality of the export lines was generally good while in places a mixed quality line-up of young cattle was offered. Buyer representation in the young cattle section was generally good and a fair panel of export buyers was present and operating, however one export processor was absent from the buying panel.

Young cattle at sales early in the week generally sold to a good market with restockers, feeders and the trade all providing strong competition. Nevertheless by mid-week with some rain starting to move through the lower part of the state prices improved across most classes of young lightweight lines with gains of 8¢ to 10¢/kg. The chances of some wet weather also influenced feeder buyers to lift the buying rates. Despite a large number of heavyweights offered buyers absorbed the large supply plus lifted average prices by 2¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced a mixed trend to lose 4¢ to 5¢/kg early in the week to be in line with the closing markets of the previous week. However by late week markets and the rain already falling in places prices turned around to improve by 2¢ to 3¢/kg. Apart from some reduction to average prices in places, the solid demand for cows experienced in continued and sales were 1¢ to 3¢/kg dearer.

Most classes dearer

The occasional calf to the trade made to 250.6¢ with most around 236¢/kg. A small supply of vealer steers to restockers averaged 240¢ and made to 250.6¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter in southern markets mostly sold in the 230¢ range nevertheless across the state average prices were closer to 205¢/kg. A large number of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at an average of 234¢ with a few sales to 260.2¢/kg.

Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 229¢ with the occasional well bred line to 254.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to the supermarket trade averaged 5¢ better at 201¢ with sales to 218.2¢, while feeder descriptions improved 2¢ to average close to 208¢ with some to 220.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers and feeders averaged from 212¢ to 218¢ with some returning to the paddock at 233¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 2¢ dearer at 199¢ and sold to 207.6¢/kg. A large line-up of bullocks improved and averaged a similar amount with the occasional pen reaching 208.2¢/kg. Medium weight two score cows averaged 131¢ and three scores 146¢/kg. Good heavy cows mostly sold around 166¢ with some to 178.2¢/kg.

Victoria

Supply slips

Competition between feedlots and restockers was the highlight at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS, as most cattle purchased by the trade sold to a cheaper trend. The supply of cattle was down eight per cent, which was driven by a large reduction in grown steer and bullock numbers after recent price falls. Numbers were the largest in the North, with Wodonga and Shepparton agents penning some excellent quality cattle.

Recent store markets have witnessed strong demand from producers and this trend has flowed into prime markets. Prices for young cattle of varying weights and quality returning to the paddock were 2¢ to 30¢/kg dearer, with light yearling steers leading the way. Young cattle purchased by the trade were firm for a small number of lightweight vealers, as others were 2¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. There was some solid supermarket competition for light and medium weight yearlings, particularly those with potential to have a high meat yield.

Despite an easing $A, processors were again reticent to purchase a large number of grown cattle. This resulted in grown steers and bullocks again selling to a cheaper trend, although quality contributed in places. Cow numbers were limited, with most beef and dairy pens selling to stable competition. Processor demand remains strong, with direct to works rates firm to dearer in Victoria. It has been reported that processors are trying to shore up supplies before the Christmas holiday break, which is only three weeks away. Both domestic and export processors are looking interstate for numbers, with the better season still affecting throughput.

Mixed trends

Vealers were 6¢ to 12¢ cheaper, with some excellent quality pens making from 230¢ to 249¢/kg to the trade. Most other vealers made from 190¢ to 225¢/kg. Restockers generally paid from 175¢ to 266¢/kg for the lightweights depending on quality, which was varied, and breed. Supplementary fed yearling steers sold to 220¢ with most light and medium weights making from 180¢ to 205¢/kg. Supermarkets paid to 215¢ for yearling heifers with most other sales ranging from 175¢ to 205¢/kg.

Grown steers sold to a top of 200¢, to average 183¢/kg. There were less of the heavy and extra heavy bullocks penned, and the quality was generally good. Most prime bullocks sold from 165¢ to 188¢, with most closer to 180¢/kg or $1,380/head.

The light lean cows ranged from 110¢ to 140¢/kg, as restocker and processors secured most lines. Heavy and cows carrying too much condition were 2¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper, selling from 145¢ to 160¢/kg. The better quality higher yielding heavy cows in 3 score condition reached 159.6 and averaged 5¢ lower on 148¢/kg. The larger framed Friesians sold between 135¢ and 162¢/kg. The carcass weight price average across all cows was estimated to be 298¢/kg cwt.

Western Australia

Supply fluctuates

Weather conditions fluctuated in the southern parts of the state. Early parts of the week were fine and dry, although as the week progressed there was a sharp escalation in temperatures. Temperatures in the north have also increased, which will impact on stock movements, while the far north continues to enjoy good early rainfall for this year’s wet season.

The majority of hay making has now been completed with the recent weeks of dry weather aiding the completion. Feed levels remain strong in the traditional cattle raising areas of the southwest and well above those of the same period last year.

It is that time of year when region vealer sales operate and the turnoff of vealers is on the increase with the Great Southern sale starting its two day sales format next week.

Physical market numbers fluctuated with Muchea seeing a solid fall in it’s yarding, while the Great Southern had the largest sale for some time. Trade weight yearling volumes were fair. Vealer supplies lifted marginally, but are still relatively low when compared to the same period last year with solid feed supplies encouraging producers to carry them to heavier weights.

Pastoral numbers were considerable lower with a drop off in both quality and weight also recorded. Heavy weight grown steer, bullock and grown heifer numbers remained moderate. Cow supplies remained very solid, not surprising given the strong markets of late.

Cow market rebounds

There was an increase in the overall weight of the vealer yarding. Quality however was more mixed. Feeder demand was restricted, which is not uncommon at this time of year, given the increased supplies of vealers coming onto the market. Next week it is expected that the last of the larger certified grain fed prices will be released to the market and many wait to see what affect this will have. The larger supplies and mixed quality of vealers impacted in feeder and restocker demand that created price falls in most classes. Grass finished trade weight yearling quality was fair. Processor and feeder demand continued to be very selective on yearlings with prices dependant upon quality and weight.

Prime local heavy grown steers enjoyed increased processor competition on the solid quality offered with dearer price levels recorded. Heavy weight grown heifer sales remained firm.

The demand from the processing sector created dearer cow values. Heavy bull prices also increased due a stronger processor competition, while live exporters and export feeder were active on the lightweights.

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