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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

18 May 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

Supply increases

Cattle yardings at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards increased by a modest 5%. Dubbo and Scone both experienced an increase in supply up by 35% and 30% respectively. Wagga’s throughput went forward 9% and Armidale went ahead 16% as the colder weather encourages producers to offload stock. Gunnedah experienced the greatest fall in supply week on week with yardings back 21%. All other centres recorded only slight changes.

Young cattle were in solid supply with relatively even portions of vealers and yearling steers and heifers yarded. Restockers secured the majority of vealer steers and heifers especially active on light weight steers. Feeders secured the majority of the yearling categories however restockers and trade buyers were securing good numbers. Heavy C3 grown steers were lower in numbers than previous weeks, with bullock supplies also very low. Medium and heavy cow category was mostly secured by processors, however some good runs of PTIC heifers were offered at Armidale.

With the onset of the cooler weather quality has fallen slightly with the majority of centres reporting mixed offerings. Many cattle entering the market are secondary drafts however there were still good numbers of high quality stock available.

Prices reduced further with young cattle experiencing the greatest losses. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) at the close of Thursdays market fell 10.75¢ to 363.5¢/kg cwt. The majority of other indicators lost ground with the trade steers the worst affected back 11¢ to 196¢/kg.

Cattle cheaper

D1 Calves to restockers sold between 182¢ and 225¢, to average at 204¢/kg. Medium C2 vealer steers reduced 4¢ to sell for 218¢/kg. The C2 medium vealer heifers reduced 6¢, with restockers paying 191¢ while processors paid 192¢/kg. The C3 heifers sold 8¢ cheaper to the trade at 192¢/kg. The light C2 yearling steers to restock slipped 1¢ to 196¢/kg. Feeder orders secured medium C2’s for 4¢ lower at 193¢, while heavies fell 3¢ to 187¢/kg. The light C2 yearling heifers dropped 11¢ to make 172¢ while the medium C2’s were returning 8¢ less at 176¢/kg. The heavy C3 yearling heifers fell 4¢ to sell at 179¢/kg.

Medium C2 grown steers went down 5¢ to average 178¢ while heavy C3’s were selling 4¢ cheaper at 184¢/kg. Processors paid 4¢ less for light C3 grown heifers while medium C4 grown heifers gained 1¢ to make 171¢/kg. The heavy C3 manufacturing steers improved by 4¢ to fetch 163¢/kg. Cows sold cheaper with medium D2’s down by 6¢ to 117¢ and the D3’s also down 6¢ to make 126¢/kg. The heavy D4 cows fell 4¢ and sold for 134¢/kg. The light C2 bulls gained 4¢ to sell for 174¢ while heavies fell 1¢ and returned 147¢/kg.

Queensland

Increased supply

The first of the widespread frosts across the south of the state plus the return of Toowoomba sales after the long weekend lifted overall numbers by 33% at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS. The Roma store sale recorded similar numbers to the previous week however supply at Dalby sale jumped by 75%, and numbers were also up at the Roma prime sale. The regular field of buyers was present and operating at most markets.

Prices for a number of classes were erratic and varied from centre to centre as the week progressed. Quality was an issue at the Roma store sale and across all markets buyers were selective. This affected average prices with the lightweight young cattle not maintaining the rates of the previous week.

Medium weight yearling steers and heifers to feed met a subdued market early in the week, however competition improved by mid week. A large penning of heavy yearling steers was able to lift in average price despite the increased supply due to the return of a full buying panel.

Prices for heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter struggled at times and varied in price from day to day. However across all markets for the week generally sold to within a few cents of the previous week’s level. Plain condition medium weight cows to processors managed to remain firm due to strong activity from restockers. The better conditioned lines of cows commenced the week on a firm trend however as the week progressed average prices suffered reductions of 1¢ to 6¢/kg.

Export lines firm to cheaper

The vast majority of the calves returned to the paddock at an average of 212¢ with a few pens to 242¢/kg. Vealer steers experienced a similar trend with the largest numbers returning to the paddock at 215¢ with sales to 234¢/kg. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors were well supplied and averaged 186¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock lost 10¢ to average 208¢ the very occasional sale to 246¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed generally sold in the 190¢ range with a few to 208¢/kg. Over 1000 head of heavy yearling steers to feed averaged 1¢ better at 189¢ with sales to 198¢/kg. The largest numbers of lightweight yearling heifers were purchased by feeder operators at 184¢ with sales to 197¢/kg. Feeder operators also purchased most of the medium weight yearling heifers and C3s averaged 183¢ and a large supply of D muscle lines averaged 166¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 178¢ to average close to 172¢/kg. A large sample of bullocks averaged 173¢ with some to the wholesale meat trade reaching 183¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows remained firm at 117¢ and 3 scores lost 6¢ to average 124¢/kg. Good heavy cows averaged 1¢ less at 142¢ with sales to 156¢/kg.

South Australia

Larger Numbers

With Naracoorte back in action after a week off there were large numbers yarded. The SA LE similar numbered yarding was very mixed quality with mainly young cattle and cows and sold to fluctuating competition from the usual local and interstate trade and processor buyers. Feeder orders were cautious with their purchases of lightweight yearlings at much lower levels on the previous week’s dearer sale.

Naracoorte’s yarding was showing the signs of a lack of rainfall and limited pasture growth with most of the young cattle in only 1 and 2 score condition. This made it difficult for the operating SA and Victorian trade and export buyers to source any large numbers of prime cattle. Cow quality was also very mixed, with a restocker paying the highest price, while the operating processors lowered their prices back under 140¢/kg. Cattle producers are considering the best strategy going forward with many electing to destock rather than supplementary feed. This allowed restockers and feeders to secure a large percentage of the total yarding.

Mt. Gambier only had 660 head as numbers drop in the South East as the winter months looms. This yarding also sold to fluctuating demand from the usual trade and export buyers, with feeder and restocker activity limited to small lines of young cattle at generally lower levels. Medium weight C3 grown steers in increased numbers were generally dearer selling up to 198¢/kg. Cow prices tended to lose ground despite a weaker A$.

Fluctuating Trends

There were fluctuating trends this week due to the varying quality available particularly on the young cattle. Limited numbers of vealer steers to the trade sold from 194¢ to 227¢ at prices 8¢ to 17¢/kg less. Most finished with feeder and restocker orders from 167¢ to 205¢, with C2 lightweight sales 11¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers in small numbers to the trade sold from 180¢ to 211¢ with a single at 235¢, to be 14¢ cheaper for the lightweights, and 11¢/kg dearer for the C3 medium weights. Feeders and restockers sourced a wide range of quality from 123¢ to 196¢, also at lower levels. Yearling steer C muscled sales were between 160¢ and 212¢ or 7¢ to 13¢ cheaper, with the B muscled in small numbers 200¢ to 223¢ or 4¢/kg dearer. Feeders sourced C2 Angus steers from 169¢ to 206¢, or 4¢/kg more. Yearling heifer C3 sales ranged from 170¢ to 208¢ at prices unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. Grown steer C3 sales were generally from 175¢ to 198¢ to be 9¢ dearer, and averaging 346¢/kg cwt. The 2 to 5 score beef cows were 2¢ to 7¢ cheaper selling from 107¢ to 144¢, or 230¢ to 285¢/kg cwt.

Victoria

Supply increases

Cattle throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards declined 6% with the majority of yards reducing in supply. Bairnsdale was back 20% with fewer grown cattle available. Numbers halved at Ballarat with very few cattle available across all categories. Camperdown’s throughput decreased by 24%, in a mostly dairy cow dominated yarding. There was a 20% reduction in supply at Colac, however there were a good number of young cattle on offer. Leongatha went back 24% with over 800 bullocks available and a solid number of cows presented. Pakenham supply held relatively firm with over 2,000 head available, with trade drafts dominating the yarding. The increase in export cattle saw Shepparton recording the greatest increase across Victoria, going forward 16%. Warrnambool experienced a slight decline with a fairly even spread of young and grown cattle yarded. Wodonga went ahead by 27% or 500 head with an increased selection well finished vealers.

Quality has remained mixed with the majority of complexes reporting greater numbers of plain lines. With the onset of the cooler weather and low pasture stores quality is not expected to improve in the immediate future. All the regular buyers attended and operated across most sales however there was an absence of export competition with a few major buyers not operating.

Prices reduced further with young cattle experiencing the greatest losses. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) at the close of Thursday’s market fell 10.75¢ to 363.5¢/kg cwt. The majority of other indicators lost ground with the trade steers the worst affected, being back 11¢ to 196¢/kg.

Prices down

Grown cattle held their prices better than younger drafts in a generally cheaper market.

The medium C2 vealer steers dropped 4¢ to 198¢ while heavy B2 vealers reduced 9¢ to sell for 212¢/kg. The medium C2 vealer heifers made 189¢ which was 4¢ lower while the C2 heavies were unchanged at 191¢/kg. Feeders paid 2¢ less for C2 medium yearling steers at 191¢/kg. The heavy C2 steers to feeders improved 4¢ to sell for 192¢ while the C3 steers to trade dropped 4¢to make 195¢/kg cwt. Medium C3 yearling heifers lost 6¢ to average 184¢/kg. The heavy C3’s only fell 3¢ to finish at 184¢ while D3’s slid 4¢ to 169¢/kg.

The medium C3 grown steers slipped 4¢ to 187¢, while heavy C4 steers only lost 1¢ to sell for 185¢/kg. The light D3 grown heifers reduced 3¢ to sell for 153¢ however the D4’s improved 3¢ and made 166¢/kg. Prices for heavy D3 manufacturing steers were firm at 169¢/kg. The medium D1 cows gained 1¢ and sold at 113¢/kg. The heavy D1 dairy cows reduced 1¢, selling for 16¢ while the D4’s lost 4¢ to return 137¢/kg cwt. Heavy C2 bulls sold 7¢ stronger at 158¢/kg.

West Australia

Saleyard numbers similar

Weather conditions in the northern and eastern pastoral regions continue to be conducive to mustering activity and this will only continue to increase in the short term. Conditions in the southern Ag regions of WA experienced a week of predominately fine and dry weather. This was despite several weak cold fronts crossing the coast, but these produced only limited falls in western and southern coastal areas below Perth.

Feed conditions however have improved dramatically due to the solid rainfall levels recorded the previous couple of weeks with the mild and warm temperatures since then aiding pasture growth. Supplementary feeding continues with further rainfall needed in the short term. Forecasts have only indicated a chance of rain mid next week with levels expected to only be moderate.

Saleyard numbers were comparable to the previous week. Muchea remained the largest of the three weekly sales, Mt Barker the next largest with the southwest’s yarding again only small. Muchea’s yarding was again dominated by pastoral drafts with these being mainly cows and heifers with a reasonable quality and weight recorded in these classes.

The supplies of both trade and heavy weight steers and heifers remained very limited with the majority of locally bred cattle made up of either young store grades or cows.

Cow market again dearer

Vealer numbers were extremely limited and again restricted to calf weight classes. Demand for these grades remains buoyant from local retailers, the trade and restockers with solid market conditions remaining in place.

The supplies of both grass and grain assisted trade weight yearlings were lower than the previous week with overall levels remaining low. Trade and local retailer demand continued to be recorded at similar levels with little or no change seen in either demand or price levels. There continued to be a reasonable quality evident in the locally bred young store grades. Demand from the feeder sector on medium and heavier drafts of both steers and heifers remained strong with agents reporting there is minimal movement of store direct from farms into feedlots. Consequently there was little change seen in price levels.

Restocker demand was also very solid and active in medium and lightweight store steer heifer categories and again there created little or limited change in recently seen values.

There was another very solid quality and weight seen in both local and pastoral cow classes. Processor demand continued to increase throughout the classes as heavy weight prime classes lifted a further 4c/kg to a high of 165c/kg lwt.

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