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Weekly Australia Cattle Summary

09 March 2012
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).

New South Wales

Consignments fall

Cattle supplies at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS dropped 23 per cent, as southern regions experienced heavy rain and widespread flooding. The flooding even led to the cancellation of the Wagga cattle sale, while Forbes agents only penned 100 head. Markets that managed to proceed in the Central West were also limited due to the rain, while yardings in the Northern Tablelands were adequate given the wet weather. The rain also had the effect of further boosting restocker demand, with the rain fostering further optimism in livestock producers.

The seasonal conditions are looking solid heading into autumn, with the mild temperatures allowing pastures to hold on and the rain has meant dams remain full. Producers in some areas will no doubt be looking forward to some clear weather, while others will take time to clean up after the flooding across the Riverina. Cattle quality and weight was generally good, with supplementary fed grown cattle in the best condition. Graziers continue to offer a high level of store young cattle, with the prices paid by restockers seemingly too good to refuse. Prime yearling cattle were in solid supplies, with several heavy yearling steers and heifers included.

Competition in the physical markets increased throughout the state – with southern processors competing strongly in the wake of the cancelled Wagga market. No changes were observed in direct to works rates, with processors hoping supplies begin to open up next week. Feeder buyers remain active, buying a good amount of suitable cattle to place onto feed as the colder months approach.

Prices dearer

Vealer steers returning to the paddock sold in smaller numbers and prices strengthened, with most of the medium weight drafts selling from 247¢ to 265¢/kg. The better covered vealer steers and heifers to the trade were firm to 3¢ dearer as the C2 lines averaged from 223¢ to 232¢/kg. Large samples of lightweight yearling steers to restock were slightly cheaper on 216¢, while the medium weights averaged 214¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed sold at 199¢, and the medium weight pens to feed were dearer on 214¢/kg. The best heavy yearling heifers to the trade sold at 215¢, while the C3 pens averaged 196¢/kg. Restockers secured the lion’s share of light pens at 198¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were upbeat, with export processors and feeders keen to secure supplies. Medium weight pens to feed averaged 187¢, as the heavy C3 pens made 185¢/kg. The better quality C4 drafts topped at 196¢ and averaged 187¢, and the few bullocks retuned 183¢/kg or $1,165/head. Medium weight cows were firm to 4¢ dearer, with the D3 section topping at 161¢ and averaging 148¢/kg. The heavy pens were a shade dearer, with the D4 lines mainly selling at 157¢ and the few exceptional quality C3 pens averaged 162¢/kg.

Queensland

A lift in supply

The supply of stock at physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS climbed 38 per cent. The return of Longreach into the selling program combined with a lift of 45 per cent at the Roma store sale as the flow of Western cattle returned numbers to normal after the recent flooding across a wide area of inland Queensland.

Quality across most markets was generally fair to good, and buyer representation was excellent with increased numbers of northern New South Wales restocker buyers present in the buying gallery at the Roma store sale. Improved competition from restockers and feeder operators lifted prices on lightweight yearling steers across all markets by 3¢/kg. Vealer heifers experienced a cheaper trend at early week sales, however as the week progressed average prices at Dalby improved 9¢/kg. The stronger feeder support combined with better quality lifted medium weight yearling steers by close to 20¢/kg. This trend also flowed onto the heavy weight yearling steers to feed with one large consignment of 230 head making 195¢/kg, and despite a good supply average prices generally improved. Restockers were very keen to lift breeder numbers and a large selection of lightweight yearling heifers averaged 24¢/kg dearer.

Heavy grown steers and bullocks to export slaughter generally maintained the improved prices of the previous week, however extra Queensland export processor competition at the end of week markets lifted bullock prices slightly. Cow values varied from centre to centre with medium weight lines unable to maintain the improved rates of the previous week. Nevertheless good heavy cows generally attracted strong competition across all markets and remained close to firm.

Feeders dearer

Calves returning to the paddock made to 257.2¢ to average 229¢, and a good sample of vealer steers returning to the paddock also averaged 229¢/kg. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors improved 1¢ to average 213¢ with some to local butchers at 228¢/kg. A large selection of light yearling steers sold to restockers 3¢ better at 225¢ with sales to 246.2¢/kg. The better end of the medium weight yearling steers to feed generally sold in the 220¢/kg range with some to 229.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed averaged 1¢ better at 192¢ with a few sales to 200.2¢/kg. The largest numbers of lightweight yearling heifers returned to the paddock at an average close to 220¢ and sold to 244.2¢/kg. A good selection of slaughter classes averaged 200¢ and made to 218.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 5¢ dearer at 198¢ and sold to 210.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 187¢ and sold to 198.6¢, while the bullock portion mostly sold around 190¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks improved in price to average 183¢ and sold to 186.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 3¢ cheaper at 132¢ and a large selection of 3 scores averaged 1¢ less at 149¢/kg. Heavy 3 scores averaged 153¢, and the better 4 scores averaged 163¢/kg.

Victoria

Larger yardings

Large rain events affected at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. However, it was not as expected with a number of markets offering larger supplies as producers looked to take advantage of the improved prices. Overall supply increased 24 per cent. The Goulburn Valley is suffering flooding, and despite this Shepparton still offered a slightly larger yarding. In Gippsland, markets were 20 per cent to 40 per cent larger.

Across all markets saw plainer quality all round. The only exception to this was vealers, particularly in East Gippsland. Parts of East Gippsland have received up to 200mm of rain in the past eight days, which influenced the top quality Cann River vealers to come in two weeks early. Many of these were carrying plenty of weight and topped at 265¢/kg. Dollar per head prices were to $1,200/head, while most sales were closer to $1,000/head.

It is so wet in East Gippsland, that Elders have postponed their annual mountain cattle weaner sales scheduled for next week and moved them to after Easter.

Overall, prices varied greatly and once away from vealers, prices were ranged from 8¢ cheaper to 12¢/kg dearer. Most affected were grown steers and cows. Due to the rain and subsequent flooding in NSW, a number of markets including Wagga were cancelled as transport was impossible, or not allowed. This was a reason behind better competition. Even though some abattoirs in NSW did not operate early in the week, and some feedlots were reluctant to buy because of the rain, prices were still very good.

Mixed trends

All vealer sold exceptionally well. The top quality B muscle lines sold from 220¢ to 265¢, as sales of light C muscle vealers ranged from 215¢ to 255¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling steers sold to 235¢ with most sales of C muscle steers were from 195¢ to 225¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers sold between 192¢ and 212¢, and most of the better quality heifers ranged from 180¢ to 215¢/kg. After several days of hot weather, and now cool and extremely wet conditions, it was very noticeable the fall in quality. Prices for a range of D muscle cattle, and plainer 2 scores were from 160¢ to 195¢/kg.

Early in the week prices for grown steers and bullocks excelled reaching 208¢/kg. This resulted in a much larger penning at Leongatha, but the quality was notably plainer. Despite this most sold between 184¢ to 198¢/kg. Bullock prices ranged from 162¢ to 190/c, only the best quality and lighter weights selling to the strongest demand.

Cow prices varied between 8¢ cheaper and 6¢/kg dearer. Most sold from 125¢ to 160¢/kg. Carcass weight prices were very comparable to the previous week at an estimated 296¢/kg.

South Australia

Increased yardings

A slightly smaller mixed quality yarding at the SA LE greeted the usual trade and export buyers that also included an additional Victorian order. Feeder and restocker orders were also to the fore on suitable vealer and yearlings at basically unchanged prices. Increased numbers of vealers were yarded, with feeders purchasing most steers, and the trade sourcing all the heifers. Most light and medium weight yearling steers finished with feeders, while the C3 medium and heavyweights were purchased by the trade at much dearer levels. Most yearling heifers finished with the trade at improved prices. The smaller yarding of cows were dearer as processors sourced all available.

Naracoorte had a larger yarding for the first combined sale this year. The saleyards are also undergoing a transition of a new roof and weighbridge. Overall quality was mixed and generally led to a fluctuating priced sale as the usual trade and processor buyers picked their way through. The mixed quality yarding of cows failed to maintain last Friday’s momentum and generally sold at lower levels. With virtually no rain south of Keith and Bordertown over the past few days, supplementary feeding is becoming a must in the mid and lower South East.

Mt. Gambier’s increased numbers sold to steady competition from the usual buying contingent, albeit with a couple very selective with their purchases. Feeder and restocker orders were quite active at generally lower levels. A few lightweight B muscled vealers attracted spirited bidding despite most being generally cheaper. Good quality runs of grown steer and a mixed quality yarding of cows tended to lose ground.

Fluctuating demand

It was a week of fluctuating demand due to not all buyers operating at optimum levels. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 196¢ to 240¢ with a single at 262¢ to be 4¢ dearer for the B muscled, and 5¢/kg cheaper for the C muscled. Feeders and restockers sourced increased numbers from 165¢ to 215¢, with C2 lightweights 4¢ dearer and the medium weights 5¢/kg less. Vealer heifers to the trade sold between 181¢ and 251¢ with isolated sales dearer and the balance generally 4¢ to 15¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases were mainly from 158¢ to 215¢/kg on C and D muscled lightweights. Yearling steer C3 sales ranged from 180¢ to 228¢ with the medium weights 4¢ cheaper and the heavyweights 9¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights sold from 174¢ to 222¢ to be 3¢ to 5¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers and bullocks sold between 170¢ and 197¢ to be unchanged to 3¢ cheaper, and generally 310¢ to 350¢/kg cwt. Most medium and heavy beef cows to processors sold from 125¢ to 160¢/kg. The 2 scores were dearer due to restocker activity and the balance unchanged to 3¢/kg cheaper, and generally 260¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

West Australia

Long weekend impacts

The southern Agricultural districts suffered a return to very hot conditions with temperatures across the weekend forecast to hit 40 degrees. The hot weather has been accompanied by fine weather with no rainfall recorded over the past seven days. Feed conditions in the south remain solid for this time of year with only limited supplementary feeding activity currently being under taken. The majority of the northern and eastern pastoral regions continue enjoy reasonable seasonal conditions with further thunderstorm activity recorded throughout these regions over the past week.

Physical market numbers were lower and impacted by the public holiday Monday. This resulted in the Muchea’s sale being moved to the Tuesday and the subsequent cancellation of the south western sale, which happens in these circumstances. Muchea’s numbers were considerably lower, while the Great Southern sale at Mt Barker saw its volumes remained similar to recent week’s levels.

Muchea’s smaller yarding had very healthy percentages of mixed quality ex-pastoral cattle that continue to be consigned from southern agistment areas, rather than being consigned direct from pastoral runs. As has been the case in recent times the supplies of prime heavy and trade weight steers and heifers remained tight. Cow numbers remained fair, while there were again reasonable volumes of vealers recorded. Quality at both markets was very mixed throughout the classes. Generally processor demand remained buoyant in most classes with restockers and feeders also remaining active in the market.

Cow market falls

Despite being lower than what was offered during last month there was once again a reasonable supply of vealers available. Quality remained fair with a reasonable spread of numbers still recorded throughout the classes. Heavier steer and heifer vealers enjoyed a slight increase in feeder demand that lifted price between 2¢ and 4¢/kg. Medium and light weight classes struggled to maintain their previous price levels due to a more subdued restocker demand on a more mixed and generally plainer quality in these grades. The numbers of prime trade steers and heifers continued to be limited with quality mixed. Prime better muscled drafts received solid and firm local processor competition, while mixed quality grades recorded discounting with most averages in line with the previous week’s quotes.

Heavy weight steer and bullock prices remained similar on limited supply, while heavy weight grown heifer sales were considerably lower due to a weaker processor demand. This was also the case in cow classes whereby processor inquiry dropped sharply and continuously as the week progressed. This was also the case in heavy weight bull classes, while lightweight received some live export interest.

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