MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 11 January 2013
clock icon 8 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Western Australia

Dry weather prevails

The extreme weather conditions that have been experienced in WA this summer have continued over the past week. Very hot temperatures have been recorded across the state with many areas also experiencing thunderstorm activity which brought further rainfall. There is also a cyclone tracking south off the Pilbara coast with forecasts still yet to predict whether or not it will cross the coast.

Many pastoralists are hoping that this will be the case, with many regions in the north experiencing a drier than normal summer weather pattern. The traditional cattle areas of southwest WA are enjoying the benefits of the very high levels of summer rainfall seen prior to Christmas. In comparison, eastern and northern Ag districts have seen deterioration in pasture and stubble paddocks from rainfall.

Spike in weaner numbers

Cattle numbers were very large in physical markets this week as vealer turnoff in the south has peaked at high levels. Further to the three normal weekly sales were several additional weaner sales which added a further 4,000 cattle to the weekly total.

All three trade sales this week had reasonable numbers penned for sale. Heavy weight steer and heifer volumes remained tight while trade yearling supplies were fair with reasonable volumes of cows having been available.

Demand remains steady

Despite the increased supplies of weaners seen in the market this week there was an increased feeder demand recorded. This was seen throughout medium and heavy weight classes of both sexes, while restocker demand on lightweights remained moderate.

There was little or no change realised in processor demand for trade weight yearlings and heavy weight steers. This was the same for heifers with a firm and equal demand seen throughout the cow classes, while plainer conditions and store cows continued to see restockers active in these grades.

New South Wales

Throughput steady

NSW cattle supply was relatively steady as the full week of sales commenced across the state. Throughput was basically unchanged at Casino with vealers dominating the total yarding.

Numbers at Dubbo returned to normal levels with quality across the categories improving from the end of last year. The continual dry weather and heat wave across the state assisted in sufficient numbers yarded at Scone, CTLX, and Wagga with the majority of cattle being plain and unfinished.

Quality varied

Quality across the state continues to be mixed across all grades, with supplementary fed cattle present at Scone and Singleton attracting higher prices.

The majority of saleyards are yarding secondary lines, more suitable for restocker and feeder buyers, however processors continue to source suitable export cattle as some quality lines are attainable.

The majority of buyers were present at markets, although restockers were selective in their purchases as the continual dry weather is making producers reassess feed levels.

Prices fluctuate

The hot weather over the Christmas break has continued to place pressure on prices, predominately from restocker orders. The D2 calves to restockers topped at 238¢ to average 192¢, while medium weight C2 vealer steer lines to slaughter were 9¢ lower finishing on 178¢/kg.

The majority of medium weight heifer lines sold for 173¢ on average with a top price of 148¢/kg. Light yearling steers returning to the paddock sold from 130¢ to 198.2¢, averaging 164¢, while medium weights to feed topped at 193¢ to average 174¢ for the better conditioned lines. The bulk of the heavy weights sold from 140¢ to 181¢/kg.

Medium yearling C2 heifers to feed averaged 152.2¢/kg, while restockers generally paid from 130¢ to 178¢/kg. Medium C2 grown steers averaged 161.7¢, while C3 lines to slaughter lifted 8¢ to finish on 168¢/kg. Light C3 grown heifers topped at 172¢ to make 151¢, while medium D2 cows to slaughter sold dearer on 114¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows averaged around 129¢/kg.


Numbers steady

The first sales for the new year attracted a moderate number of stock with only just over half of the selling centres commencing operations for 2013 close to 10,000 head of cattle was penned.

Overall quality has declined since the closing markets last year and this was most noticeable in the young cattle sections. The overall standard of the small selection of heavy steers and bullocks was generally good and the majority of the cows were in the 3 and 4 score ranges. A fair panel of buyers was present and operating on the young cattle, however not all the major export processors were back in the market.

Young cattle quality remains plain

Demand for young cattle was very fragile with only selected lines receiving fair competition. A few calves returning to the paddock made to the occasional 231.2¢, while most of the D muscle lines averaged in the 160¢/kg range. A short supply of vealer heifers made to 206.2¢ to average 171¢/kg.

A fairly large sample of lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers at 188¢ a few well bred pens to 203.2¢ while lesser quality lines averaged 172¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 181¢ and heavy weights 179¢ with sales to 191.2¢/kg.

Well presented lightweight yearling heifers made into the 180¢/kg range, however the largest numbers were D muscle categories and competition was very limited with most sales from 150¢ to 160¢/kg.

Export demand steady

The handful of heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 181¢ and sold to 188¢/kg. The limited supply of bullocks made to a top of 189.2¢ to average 176¢, while a consignment of 43 head of certified grainfed bullocks made to and averaged 207.2¢/kg. A moderate supply of medium weight 3 score cows averaged 130¢/kg. The occasional pen of good heavy cows made to 164.2¢ with the largest numbers at close to 144¢/kg.

South Australia

In the first full sale week for 2013 there has been a huge increase in cattle numbers as many producers de-stock in the face of another very hot week. The majority of processors are fully booked, with a lower demand impacting on saleyard prices.

The SA LE’s small yarding sold to a generally weaker trend, with only a consignment of supplementary fed yearling steers and medium weight heifers attracting any spirited bidding. Feeder and restocker orders were circumspect and only showed some interest in well-bred lightweight yearling heifers.

Naracoorte’s first sale was not immune to the weaker prices paid, as the 2013 selling season now commences in earnest. However, the severity of some falls left many onlookers dismayed, with only some grown steers and B-muscled Simmental cows attracting improved prices. The largest falls were for vealer steers and heifers due to a lack of competition with a limited number of buyers operating. This allowed some feeder and restocker activity as some prices became too hard to resist.

Mt. Gambier’s numbers increased and sold to fluctuating competition, as numbers outweighed demand. However, a good quality run of B-muscled Simmental grown steers attracted solid demand up to 177¢/kg. Cow prices also tended to improve.

Millicent’s slightly larger yarding also sold to erratic competition, with the B-muscled vealer steers selling at improved levels, while the heifers lost further ground.

Prices lower

While most categories have continued to attract lower prices, there have been isolated sales dearer where quality has suited.The B-muscled vealer steers to the trade sold from 155¢ to 182¢, with the lightweights 5¢ dearer and the remainder 2¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper.

Feeders and restockers sourced C and B-muscled light and medium weight steers from 135¢ to 165¢/kg. Vealer heifers in good quality runs, sold to the trade from 115¢ to 165¢ to be a further 9¢ to 12¢/kg cheaper.

Yearling steer C3 sales of mainly heavyweights sold from 135¢ to 170¢ with supplementary fed lines to 197¢/kg at basically unchanged prices for the grass finished. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights attracted prices between 125¢ and 168¢, with supplementary fed medium weights to 181¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks sold from 140¢ to 177¢, with B2 medium weights 4¢ dearer and all others categories 1¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper. This tended to leave most selling in a 250¢ to 310¢/kg cwt price range. The 2 to 5 score medium and heavy beef cows sold from 92¢ to 129¢ to be generally unchanged to 11¢/kg dearer and mainly between 210¢ and 245¢kg cwt.


Throughput steady

Throughput was similar to the usual levels with large numbers yarded at Wodonga, Pakenham and Shepparton. Numbers increased at Warrnambool compared to last week as the dry weather is pressuring producers to offload unfinished cattle, which is not uncommon after prolonged dry conditions. Export cattle were in good numbers at Shepparton, Camperdown and Pakenham, while cows offered were generally plain.

Unfinished cattle dominate

The majority of saleyards are consisting of secondary finished lines, as available feed levels become an issue for restockers. There are supplementary fed cattle available, attracting higher prices however has had little effect on the overall market.

Better conditioned cows were present at Pakenham and Bairnsdale. The usual buyers were present and operating, despite subdued competition from restocker and feeder buyers across most markets.

Mixed price trends

Medium weight vealer steers to feed were 23¢ higher on 165¢, while the lines to slaughter were 6¢ dearer on 161¢/kg. Heavy weight B2 lines were unchanged to average 178¢, while the C2 drafts sold 12¢ higher on 163¢/kg.

Vealer heifers to slaughter lifted 8¢ to average 153¢/kg. Heavy weight C3 yearling steer lines to slaughter were 12¢ lower on 172¢, while medium weight yearling steers were 11¢ higher to average 147¢/kg.

Heavy weight grown steers to slaughter were unchanged to average 166¢, while bullocks increased 3¢ to 166¢/kg. Light weight grown heifers to processors lifted 6¢ to 141¢kg. Heavy weight cows increased 8¢ to average 126¢/kg.

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