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Weekly Cattle Summary

05 April 2012
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

Short week lowers supply

Cattle supplies across the MLA’s NLRS reported markets decreased 21% ahead of the Easter holiday. Most of the fall in yardings occurred towards the end of the trading week, as processors anticipated limited processor demand due to the long weekend. Casino recorded the greatest drop in yardings as numbers reduced by more than half. The yarding at Goulbourn dropped 40%, while CTLX also offered fewer cattle. Forbes was the only market to record an increase in supply. The remaining markets maintained a similar offering of cattle to last week.

Once again young cattle were generally well supplied across all the markets , however overall veal supply and quality fell. There were a good proportion of cows presented but grown steers and bullocks were in reduced supply. The quality of cattle was overall fair to good, particularly in the yearling grades. Most of the northern and inland markets did report a drop in quality as cattle showed the effects of the recent dry and hot weather.

The cattle offered sold to all the usual buyers, though competition was not fervent due to the shortened processing week. The price trends across the markets varied with quality however most categories recorded a cheaper trend. An exception was in vealer heifers which managed to make some small gains. Heavy steer prices held their ground due to the limited supply.

The OTH market also recorded a cheaper trend as prices reduced across all categories. Processors required fewer consignments as the long weekend reduced slaughter capacity.

Cheaper trend

The majority of indicators decreased with yearling heifers experiencing the greatest losses. Light vealer steers to restock sold from 220¢ to 276¢ to be down by 12¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer steers remained in solid supply with the majority selling between 198¢ and 241¢ while those to the trade 224¢/kg. Heavy C3 vealers to process were up 3¢ to 225¢/kg. Vealer heifer prices were mostly cheaper as trade buyers secured the majority of stock. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers were 4¢ cheaper on 222¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed were dearer across the majority of categories. Medium weight dominated and ranged from 170¢ to 240¢/kg. Heavy weights were also in good numbers averaging 196¢ to be 1¢/kg higher. Yearling steers to the trade were from 204¢/kg. The majority of yearling heifers were purchased to process with the heavy weight topping 214¢/kg.

Grown cattle prices were varied, though lower overall. Medium C2 feeder steers were down 3¢ to 177¢ while those to processors were 6¢ lower at 190¢/kg. Light C3 grown heifers to processors were down 2¢ and sold around 169¢/kg. Medium D2 restocker cows made 11¢ less at 145¢ while those to processors made 127¢ being down 7¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows sold 3¢ cheaper at 149¢/kg. C2 bulls were cheaper at 154¢/kg.

South Australia

Smaller numbers

There were only two sales conducted due to the Easter Break that will see two short kill weeks and led to reduced numbers being yarded at the SALE and Naracoorte. Next week Naracoorte, Mt. Gambier and Millicent will hold sales.

The SA LE’s smaller mixed quality yarding of mainly young cattle and cows sold to fluctuating demand from the usual trade and export buyers. There was limited feeder and restocker orders operating. Most lightweight vealer steers were sourced by feeder orders at generally dearer levels, with trade purchases cheaper. The vealer heifers followed suit at lower levels to mainly trade competition. Light and medium weight yearling steers were sourced by feeders below 201¢/kg. Small lines of yearling heifers to the trade were unchanged to 5¢/kg cheaper, while the 2 to 4 score beef cows to processor demand tended to sell at basically unchanged prices.

Naracoorte’s smaller yarding contained mixed quality runs of young cattle and cows that sold to steady SA and Victorian trade and export competition. Feeder and restocker orders were active on a yarding more suitable to their requirements. While the yarding contained mainly local cattle, there were pockets of pastoral breds including some Brahman grown steers that sold at 180c/kg. Prime B muscled heavy vealers steers sold to a top of 244c/kg at improved levels, while feeder and restocker orders were very active on mainly lightweight Angus steers also at generally dearer levels. Limited numbers of yearling steers and heifers were yarded and sold at lower prices. Cows tended to lose ground as most sold to processors.

Erratic trends

The varying quality available only led to erratic trends for most categories from the limited number of trade and export buyers who were operating. Even feeder and restocker purchases were varied on the increased numbers they sourced. Most lightweight vealers to feeder and restocker inquiry sold from 195c¢ to 227¢, at prices unchanged to 18¢/kg dearer for mainly Angus steers. The trade sourced limited numbers between 193¢ and 244¢, with heavy B muscled sales 5¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers were a little more erratic as most to the trade sold from 190¢ to 235¢/kg. This left some sales 11¢ to 13¢ dearer and others up to 50¢/kg cheaper on last week’s extremes. Feeders and restockers sourced increased numbers from 185¢ to 210¢/kg at generally lower levels. Yearling steers C3 sales were around 8¢ cheaper selling from 160¢ to 212¢, with the heifer equivalents 175¢ to 206¢ or unchanged to 3¢/kg less.

Small numbers of grown steers sold generally from 175¢ to 187¢ to be 7¢/kg cheaper. Cow prices tended to lose ground as most ranged from 133¢ to 160¢, or 260¢ to 300¢/kg cwt. This left some sales 1¢ to 3¢ dearer and others 1¢ to 3¢/kg cheaper.

West Australia

Quality mixed

There has been little change in seasonal conditions in the southern parts of the state. Temperatures were moderate with conditions remaining predominately fine and dry. This was despite the fact that a weak cold front crossed the southern corner of the country, which brought limited rain to most Agricultural regions.

Feed conditions subsequently continue to slide and with the majority of producers now calving supplementary feeding remains a daily chore on most properties in local districts. Conditions in the majority of the northern and eastern pastoral regions remain reasonable, with adequate feed levels reported.

Physical market numbers were affected by the Easter long weekend, which caused the cancellation of the Great Southern sale. Muchea’s saleyard total although marginally lower than the previous week remained moderate and the larger of the two sales held this week, while the south western sale at Boyanup continued to be reasonably limited with less than 400 head yarded.

With Muchea dominating total numbers as pastoral cattle accounted for a very healthy percentage of the weekly total. Prime drafts of local cattle in both trade and heavy weight steer and heifer categories were subsequently limited in numbers with the volumes of cows available also remaining only moderate.

Quality was mixed with the vast majority of cattle offered being in store condition. Processor demand throughout the classes remained relatively similar to previous week’s levels. Feeder and restocker demand for store classes remained very selective and quality dependant.

Cow market stable

The volumes of vealer in physical markets was only moderate with quality mixed with most producers now having sold most of last year’s drops and now down to their tail end drafts. Restocker and feeder demand throughout the weight classes in both heifers and steers were selective with quality a determinable factor in pricing levels. The tight supplies of finished trade weight yearlings were again predominately grass finished with few supplementary fed drafts available with quality in both categories mixed. Demand from the local trade and retailers however remained solid with little or no change recorded to price on prime drafts, while feeders and restockers were again active on plainer conditions consignments.

This was also the case in heavy grown steers, bullocks and heavy weight grown heifer sales with firm processor demand.

Cow quality remained mixed. Processor demand on prime heavy weight local and pastoral cows remained constant with price levels remaining similar. Both local and pastoral cows cow sales peaked at 155c/kg with the average around 148c/kg. The small numbers of heavy weight local bull sold at lower processor demand with prices reducing by 10c/kg lwt.

Queensland

Reduced supply

The supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS leading into the Easter break fell 21%. Numbers at some markets early in the week increased with stock drawn from a wide area including some of the drier districts, and the Roma store sale on Tuesday also experienced a jump of 35%. However most other centres experienced smaller numbers and with no Longreach sale and the cancellation of the Roma prime sale due to the Easter break added to the downturn in supply.

Overall quality varied from centre to centre, with a fair percentage of the calves and vealers steers showing the effects of the changing season. There was also a slip in the overall standard of the export cattle at markets early in the week.

Values for young cattle experienced a mixed trend at the Roma store sale, highlighted by lightweight yearling steers which at the start of the sale met strong demand, however as the sale progressed restocker buyers become more selective and average prices fell. Calves and vealers at Warwick also eased, nevertheless by mid week despite a relatively good number of calves and vealers penned local and southern processors plus feeder and restockers were able to absorb numbers available. Prices were also able to maintain average prices close to last weeks level. A fairly good supply of yearling steers and heifers to feed generally maintained strong competition at all markets.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced price reductions at early week markets and this trend continued as the week progressed. Cows also suffered falls, however losses were confined to 4¢ to 6¢/kg.

Export lines cheaper

Calves to the trade averaged close to 222¢ while those returning to the paddock averaged 227¢ with the occasional sale to 270.2¢/kg. The majority of vealer steers sold to restockers at 223¢ with a few to 248.6¢/kg. A good supply of vealer heifers sold to slaughter and feeder operators at 210¢ and a few slaughter lines made to 229.6¢/kg. A large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 217¢/kg with some well bred lines to 257¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed were well supplied and most sold from 200¢ to 206¢/kg. Heavy weights to feed were also in large numbers and averaged 195¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to the trade averaged 212¢ and medium weights to feed 188¢/kg. Medium weights to the local meat trade were in demand and gained 9¢ to average 195¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter across all markets averaged 3¢ less at 175¢, while the bullock portion fell 8¢ to average 176¢ with some to the wholesale meat trade at 190¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 5¢ cheaper at 124, and 3 scores lost 4¢ to average 140¢/kg. Good heavy cows were not as plentiful as the previous week and average prices eased 5¢ to 152¢ with the occasional sale to 164.6¢/kg.

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