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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

28 September 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).

Victoria

Supply steady

Victorian cattle supply remained firm in comparison to last week with the majority of markets across the state recording similar numbers. Supply remains 16% lower compared to the corresponding week last year with price resistance a major contributor behind the reduced supply. Yearling cattle dominated supply throughout the majority of the yardings with most being of the heavy weight variety. The majority of the grown cattle were heavy weight cows and grown steers were in good numbers.

Signs of improvement in quality

Despite the majority of the young cattle supply remaining plain there were signs of improvements this week with Pakenham, Bairnsdale and Ballarat yarding supplementary lines in very good condition. Amongst the grown cattle yarding there were good numbers of 3 and 4 score heavy weight cattle available. The majority of the regular trade buyers were in attendance across most centres. Feeder and restocker activity was again subdued.

Prices mixed

Prices throughout the state varied with price trends mixed partly due to the variability in quality. Heavy vealer steers to the trade were 7¢ cheaper selling from 192¢ to 225¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to the trade were 6¢ cheaper to average 221¢ while the heavy weight portion made 219¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers made 198¢ to be firm with the heavy heifer portion to the trade settling on 184¢/kg.

The majority of heavy weight grown steers were 5¢ dearer on 192¢ while bullocks were 2¢ higher on 189¢/kg. Heavy grown heifers were firm on 155¢ to sell to a top of 177¢/kg. Dairy cows were in good supply with the medium weights making 122¢ and the heavy portion making 120¢/kg. Well-conditioned heavy beef cows made 141¢ to be 3¢/kg cheaper.

New South Wales

Throughput declines further

Total throughput declined 10% compared to last week as reported by MLA’s NLRS. The majority of saleyards had reduced throughput as the forecasted rain has seen producers holding onto stock in the hope of seasonal conditions improving. Dubbo had the largest decline of 37% while Gunnedah and Forbes fell an additional 24% and 26% respectively. Despite the forecasted rain an increase in throughput was reported at CTLX by 6%, while Scone and Tamworth both lifted their supplies 50%. There were good numbers of yearling cattle yarded at Scone, Tamworth and Casino, while a good supply of grown cattle was reported at Wagga, Gunnedah and Inverell.

Quality plain

Supplementary fed cattle are starting to hit markets, consequently attracting higher prices due to competition from feeder and processor buyers. Despite the gradual increase of finished cattle entering the market, the majority remains plain and unfinished due to the continual dry spring weather. The usual buyers were present at most markets however one processor buyer in Gunnedah had limited orders as an unforseen lightning strike shut down operations.

Prices ease slightly

The reduction in throughput saw prices generally decline, predominately due to quality. The majority of medium C2 vealer steers to restock fell 2¢ to average 201¢, while the heifer portion to processors topped at 225¢ to average 203¢/kg. Better quality light weight yearling steers were firm on 198¢, while heavy C2’s to feed averaged 189¢, up 3c/kg. Light yearling C2 heifers returning to the paddock eased 4¢ on average to make 170¢, while medium C3’s to slaughter were unchanged on in price to average 190¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers were slightly stronger finishing on 189¢, while light grown heifers to processer orders slipped 2¢ on average to make 167¢/kg. The bulk of medium weight cows were D2’s to slaughter ranging in price from 102¢ to 139¢, while heavy weight D4’s were relatively firm averaging 140¢/kg.

South Australia

Yardings rise

After prices lifted the previous week there was an increased yarding at the SA LE, with the upcoming long weekend and dry conditions contributing to the increase. After last week’s lower prices Naracoorte’s numbers fell, but will still see split sales commence next week. Mt. Gambier’s slightly smaller yarding witnessed a drop in quality, while Millicent’s numbers increased on last fortnight.

Improved quality

Naracoorte’s improved quality yarding sold to fluctuating competition from the usual SA and Victorian trade and export buyers, albeit with a couple quite selective. An additional Victorian wholesale order and one supermarket chain added to the competition. Feeders and restockers were also active. The yarding consisted of local and pastoral bred cattle, with some very good quality supplementary feds.

The SA LE’s mixed quality yarding of local and pastoral bred cattle sold to a much weaker trend to most of the usual trade and export buyers, albeit with the exception of one Victorian wholesaler. Feeder orders were active, however their bidding was limited and not enough to stop their purchases losing ground. Few vealers were penned, with the majority of the yarding being yearlings that were much cheaper.

With quality slipping, Mt. Gambier’s yarding sold to fluctuating competition from the usual buyers, with a supermarket also active where quality suited. Prime vealers attracted solid bidding, while the cow run tended to lose ground. Prime vealers at Millicent also attracted strong demand while grown steers sold to eager bidding.

Fluctuating price trends

There was fluctuating demand from most of the regular buyers. However, some supermarket interest was shown at Naracoorte and Mt. Gambier with these sales tending to improve as the other buyers tried to lower theirs.

Vealer steers to solid trade competition sold from 188¢ to 255¢ to be unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. Feeder purchases of C2 mainly lightweight steers were from 192c to 205¢ or around 5¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade tended to sell from 180¢ to 232¢ or 6¢ to 15¢/kg dearer. Yearling steer C2 and C3 sales ranged from 160¢ to 218¢ or 12¢ lower, while B-muscled supplementary feds made 200¢ to 230¢ at prices up to 18¢/kg dearer. Yearling C3 heifers, medium and heavyweights sold from 149¢ to 195¢ to be averaging 20¢/kg less due to the SA LE’s much weaker trend.

Grown steer and bullock C3 and C4 sales were from 165¢ to 198¢ with a B-muscled sale at 204¢, to be unchanged to 4¢/kg cheaper and averaging around 330¢/kg cwt overall. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold mainly from 102¢ to 147¢ to be mostly 4¢ to 12¢/kg lower, and generally 240¢ to 285¢/kg cwt.

West Australia

Southwest pasture levels on the rise

Temperatures in the north of the state continue to rise with the far north experiencing very hot conditions of approximately forty degrees and this continues to limit mustering activity throughout the pastoral regions. Conditions in the south of the state have improved with wide spread light rainfall again being recorded, with the heaviest falls restricted to southern and coastal regions. Reports of pasture growth from the traditional cattle growing areas of the southwest have been positive, with warmer temperatures improving moisture levels and longer daylight hours all combining to aid plant growth.

Supplies decrease

The number of cattle supplied in physical markets decreased due to a reasonable drop-off in Muchea’s numbers and despite an increase in the volumes experienced in the Great Southern the southwest sale continued to yard small supplies. Muchea’s lower yarding was due to a fall in pastoral numbers, although despite this these categories continued to account for the majority of the markets total supplies. As has been the case in pastoral drafts in recent weeks the volumes of cows, mature heifers and bull numbers remain buoyant with only limited supplies of yearling heifers and steers forwarded for sale. Local trade and heavy weight steer and heifer supplies remained only moderate with cow numbers fair, while local store classes had a reasonable representation.

Quality mixed

Quality throughout the markets remained mixed. Trade demand was recorded at reasonable levels throughout the classes, although remains quality dependant. A mixed quality store yarding continued to enjoy solid feeder and restocker demand with strong demand coming from the southwest, where increased pasture growth has stimulated restocker demand. Live exporters remain solid in yearling steer categories, purchasing over a wide weight range and adding a strong level of competition to the market.

Queensland

Larger supply to fewer buyers

The supply of stock varied between centres however increased numbers at Toowoomba and Roma store sale lifted overall supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS by over 6%. The quality of the cattle offered ranged from excellent to very plain condition and apart from Longreach, young cattle dominated the selling pens at most markets.

Buyer attendance was erratic as not all the usual buyers attended Monday’s markets, however at Warwick one processor was absent and another one returned to the market. The usual local buyers were in attendance and operating at Longreach nevertheless southern buyers were absent.

Fluctuating demand causes varied prices

The wide variation in the quality of the young lightweight cattle allowed average prices to ease in places. Due to extra restockers providing stronger competition the better quality lines improved in price. Calves to restockers made to 248¢ to average 207¢/kg. Vealer heifers in the south of the state generally sold in the early 200¢ range with some top end quality lines to local butchers making to 246¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter averaged 190¢ with D muscle lines in the 160¢/kg range. A large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 213¢ with sales to 235¢/kg.

Domestic feeder weight steers struggled to maintain the previous weeks prices in places while a fairly large selection of heavy feeders experienced no change to average prices. Heavy yearling steers to feed averaged 190¢ and sold to 203¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter generally sold to firm demand early in the week and by mid week with all processors back in the market average prices improved by 2¢ to 3¢/kg. Heavy steers averaged180¢ and bullocks averaged a similar amount and sold to 189¢/kg. Cow prices varied from firm to cheaper as the week progressed. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 126¢ and good heavy cows made to 159¢ to average 147¢/kg.

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