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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

05 October 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).

South Australia

Only south east markets

With no sale at the SA LE due to the long weekend, Naracoorte started the week with mainly young cattle for their first split sale of the season and will be finishing the week on Friday with bulls and cows. Mt. Gambier had a similar numbered mixed quality yarding.

Naracoorte’s young cattle sold to steady trade and export competition from the usual buyers, although some were selective despite quality remaining reasonably good. The early runs sold erratically, with the latter runs tending to pick up momentum as a supermarket made their presence felt on a couple of large pens of yearling heifers at dearer levels. Feeder and restocker orders were also active albeit at lower levels over a wide range of weights and quality.

Mt. Gambier’s mixed quality yarding sold to fluctuating demand from the usual trade and export buyers, with feeder and restocker orders more circumspect. Vealers were yarded in small lines and sold at much lower levels, with yearling steers and heifers losing ground. However, grown steers and cows sold to strong competition at mainly improved prices.

Erratic demand

It has been an erratic sale week mainly due to the varying quality available.

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 186¢ to 240¢/kg. Limited C2 sales of lightweights to feeders were 12¢ less selling from 190¢ to 198¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade were 1¢ to 22¢ cheaper selling between 165¢ and 227¢/kg. Yearling steer C3 and B muscled heavyweights sold from 172¢ to 205¢ to be 6¢ dearer for the C3 steers and 14¢/kg less for the B muscled. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights in increased numbers sold from 160¢ to198¢, or 2c to 8¢/kg lower.

Grown steers ranged from 170¢ to 203¢, with the medium weights 3¢ cheaper, while the heavyweights were 4¢/kg dearer and most averaged around 340¢/kg cwt. Medium and heavy beef cows to strong demand sold from 116¢ to 152¢ with an isolated sale at 163¢/kg. This left most sales from 270¢ to 304¢/kg cwt.

Victoria

Grown cattle dominate yardings

Supply across markets reported by MLA’s NLRS remained in line with last weeks levels, as Victoria operating all week, unlike the other states that observed a public holiday. The majority of cattle were yarded at Wodonga, Shepparton and Leongatha. Supply however, continues to be around 10% below last year’s levels.

Grown cattle well and truly dominated yardings as the young cattle represented just 29% of the states total yarding. Young cattle numbers reduced around 5% week-on-week, with most of the reduction attributed to less yearling heifers penned. Cows and grown steers were well supplied with grown steer numbers climbing close to 50%, while manufacturing steer supply also increased.

Quality has remained varied although following the trend of last week, greater numbers of good quality lots are being offered. Camperdown, Bairnsdale, Warrnambool and Wodonga all offered improved quality across most categories, but it was particularly evident on the young cattle.

Varied price trends

Most markets had their regular contingent of buyers in attendance. Warrnambool and Wodonga on Tuesday both had extra buyers operating; however the small market at Ballarat received limited buyer support and the Wodonga Wednesday sale did not have all buyers operating.

Medium and heavy yearling steers to the trade ranged from 198¢ to 206¢/kg as only limited numbers were secured by feeders or restockers. The yearling heifer portion ranged from 185¢ to 190¢ with an isolated sale to 236¢/kg.

Grown steers sold to a mixed trend as the C3 medium and heavy weights were cheaper while the C4 heavy steers and bullocks were all dearer. Most of the heavy grown steers sold in the early to mid 190¢ range as the bullocks mostly sold from 183¢ to 189¢/kg.

Dairy cows across all weight ranges held close to firm while the beef cows were a few cents cheaper, except for the heavy D4s which were dearer. Most of the better dairy cows ranged from 113¢ to 128¢ as heavy D4 beef cows averaged 144¢/kg.

Queensland

Numbers drop

A combination of a short working week and the cancellation of sales in the north-west of the state reduced overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 23%. A fall in market prices influenced some north-western producers to hold stock resulting in the cancellation of sales at Longreach and Blackall. Numbers declined 35% at the Roma store sale despite the regions weakening seasonal conditions. However very little rain across the supply area caused numbers to climb at Warwick by 21% and Dalby recorded a 46% lift in supply.

Quality deteriorates

The rapid deterioration in the season reflected in the standard of the young lightweight cattle as poor conditioned light yearling heifers dominated the selling pens in a number of centres. A relatively good sample of heavy steers and bullocks were penned while there was a large variation in the standard of the cows.

The number of restocker buyers in the market continued to increase and at mid week sales a full panel of export processors were in attendance and operating.

Grown steers and cows dearer

Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock experienced a small improvement of 1¢ to average 214¢ after sales to 232.2¢/kg. Heavy weight feeders were well supplied and buyers absorbed the numbers plus lifted prices by 2¢ to 192¢ with a few pens reaching 204.2¢/kg. A combination of larger numbers and a drop in quality resulted in lightweight yearling heifers suffering price reductions. Only limited feedlot buyer interest was evident and mostly southern processors operated with the occasional restocker bidding. However at Dalby a consignment of well bred medium weight yearling heifers met keen interest from producers rebuilding the breeding herd with sales 239.2¢ most close 222¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks improved 2¢ to 3¢ to average 184¢ with sales to 192.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows were also dearer with most just under 120¢ and 3 scores lifted 5¢ to average 131¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 160¢ to average 148¢/kg.

New South Wales

Monday holiday reduces throughput

Supply declined 19% markets reported by MLA’s NLRS, as the Monday holiday resulted in the cancellation of Wagga, Tamworth and Forbes. Dubbo recorded an increase of 66% as the yarding was dominated by young cattle, particularly yearling steers and heifers. Gunnedah also recorded an increase of 13% with a good number of yearlings also yarded. CTLX was the only other major saleyard to offer larger numbers as young cattle again dominated. Scone, Inverell and Casino were steady on last week’s levels.

Quality remains mixed

The quality of cattle continues to be varied across most markets as the dry spring weather continues across the state. Supplementary fed yearling cattle are scattered through the market fetching high prices, while crop fed cattle are also attracting a premium. The influx of young cattle to markets for the shortened week also highlights the current seasonal conditions.

The usual buyers were present at most markets, as restocker and feeder buyers competed on the unfinished lines, while processors were quite active on any of the suitable lots.

Prices boosted

With the majority of buyers competing, prices generally remained firm or improved slightly. Light and medium D2 vealer steers returning to the paddock were 4¢ to 14¢ dearer, while C2 vealer heifers to slaughter were firm to 5¢/kg easier. The majority of C2 light and medium weight yearling steers to restock orders were cheaper by around 7¢ to 10¢/kg; however feed buyers paid the same levels as last week. Light yearling heifers to restockers were relatively firm averaging 169¢, as feeder buyers paid around 170¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeder orders averaged 186¢, to be 5¢/kg dearer, while the majority of heavy weights to slaughter were unchanged on last week’s levels at 199¢/kg. Medium weight cows were firm at 119¢/kg as heavy D4 cows to slaughter gained 5¢ to average 145¢/kg.

West Australia

Physical market numbers drop

There was a decrease in cattle numbers recorded at physical markets by MLA’s NLRS. This was due to a holiday Monday, which caused the cancellation of the Southwest sale, while both Muchea and Mt Barker recorded lower supplies than the previous week.

Mustering activity in the far north of the state continues to wind down as temperatures heat up. In the southern Agricultural districts another week of predominately fine and dry weather was received. Despite this, a light weather front did bring some welcome rain to southern and coastal areas.

Feed conditions in the traditional cattle growing areas of the south continue to improve with seasonal conditions now being reported as average. There continues to be discussions regarding grain prices amongst cattle producers and how these will affect the weaner and store prices going forward. This has been the result of below average winter and spring rainfalls in the wheatbelt which will have an affect on yields and subsequent grain prices.

Prices retreat

As has been the case in recent time Muchea was dominated by pastoral drafts with only limited numbers of locally sourced cattle yarded. The supplies of heavy and trade weight steers and heifers remained limited, while young local store supplies remained reasonable. Cow volumes were fair, while there continued to be solid supplies of medium and lightweight pastoral bulls available.

Prices retreated following reduced processor demand throughout slaughter classes, however the mixed quality across both yarding’s was a contributing factor to trend. Price across the majority of slaughter classes reduced between 2¢ and 5¢/kg. Feeder and restocker demand for store grades remained fair, while there was diminished live export demand on lightweight bulls compared to recent weeks.

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