MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian territory by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 15 March 2013
clock icon 8 minute read


Dry conditions draw more cattle

Throughput at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS lifted significantly as the supply area in the eastern half of the state begins to dry out after recent flooding rain. A rapidly deteriorating season in the west and in the northern and central parts of the state lifted numbers at the Roma store sale to 12,000 head.

Quality was mixed across most classes and noticeably more in the young cattle sections. The usual panel of export and feeder buyers were present and operating at most markets, along with a larger contingent of restocker buyers.

Young cattle prices vary

Young cattle experienced a mixed trend with vealer heifers to the trade losing up to 17¢/kg with most at 182¢, however, a handful of very well presented classes experienced strong support from butchers and sold to 216.2¢/kg.

A very large selection of lightweight yearling steers generally continued to receive a strong enquiry from restockers. The better C2s averaged 201¢ with sales to 222¢ while D muscle lines were in the largest numbers and averaged 175¢/kg.

Medium weight yearling steers to feed for the domestic market sold to firm demand with good quality lines averaging 187¢ with a few to 194.2¢/kg.

Heavy feeders struggled to sustain a firm trend and average prices eased as the week progressed with most 3¢ cheaper at 173¢/kg.

The better end of the lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter and feed averaged 171¢, while D muscle lines were over supplied and averaged 157¢/kg.

Grown cattle prices lower

Heavy grown steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced small price reductions at markets early in the week.

As the week progressed however, average prices fell by up to10¢/kg in places. Heavy grown steers averaged 178¢ with a very occasional sale to 193.2¢/kg. Bullocks also sold to an isolated 193.2¢ with a good sample at 176¢/kg. Cows also suffered price reductions of 6¢ to 10¢/kg.

Medium weight 2 scores averaged 118¢ and 3 scores 130¢/kg. A large number of good heavy cows mostly sold around 144¢ with a few to 158.2¢/kg.

South Australia

Smaller yardings

The public holiday this week shortened supply and it was another week of very hot weather that has cattle producers hoping for rain as feed reserves diminish.

Naracoorte’s smaller mixed quality yarding sold to limited trade competition for the young cattle due to the small number of well finished stock suitable for their requirements. However, feeder and restocker orders, including a couple of SA processors, sourced mainly yearling heifers to feed on and assisted prices to dearer levels.

Most cows sold at unchanged prices, with a magnificent Limousin heavyweight selling at 134¢/kg.

Mt. Gambier’s overall quality was quite mixed with many young cattle showing the affect of hot weather, while the grown steers and cows were in mainly good quality runs that attracted strong competition. This led to the 500kg to 600kg steers being 13¢/kg dearer, while the heavyweights remained unchanged.

Millicent’s slightly larger yarding featured the first run of their renowned bean finished yearlings that sold to very strong Victorian wholesale competition at dearer levels. However, once quality slipped demand became quite erratic and led to a couple of pens of vealer heifers being returned to the paddock despite their good quality.

Varying price trends

The varying quality available only led to varying trends materialising, which was also due to not all of the regular SA and Victorian buyers sourcing stock. However, there was strong feeder and restocker activity at improved prices.

Limited B-muscled vealer steers to the trade sold from 168¢ to 200¢ at prices unchanged to 9¢ less, with a couple to a local butcher at 232¢/kg. Increased numbers of vealer steers to feeders and restockers sold from 148¢ to 185¢, or 4¢ to 9¢/kg more.

Vealer heifer sales fluctuated with lightweight C-muscled sales 2¢ dearer, while the C3 medium weights were 6¢ cheaper as most sold from 148¢ to 200¢/kg. The B-muscled sales were between 172¢ and 211¢/kg.

Limited C3 heavyweight yearling steers sold from 148¢ to 188¢ or 6¢ less, while the B-muscled bean finished sold from 185¢ to 210¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights attracted prices between 145¢ to 198¢/kg.

The 500kg to 600kg grown steers were 13¢ dearer while the heavyweights were 1¢ to 2¢ higher, as most sold from 158¢ to 185¢ and were averaging around 310¢/kg cwt. The 2 to 5 score beef cows were slightly cheaper selling from 85¢ to 130¢/kg.


Numbers retreat

Total throughput across the state declined 29 per cent as the Monday holiday assisted in fewer cattle yarded across most MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards. There were very few consignments at Pakenham and Wodonga’s grown cattle sale due to the holiday, while Warrnambool also yarded fewer cattle. Leongatha, Camperdown and Colac were steady on last week’s levels. Larger numbers of young cattle were yarded at Wodonga while some better quality bullocks and grown steers were in greater numbers.

Quality mixed

There were some good quality supplementary fed yearlings at Wodonga while all other markets were quite mixed, with the majority still lacking adequate finish. All the regular buyers were present at markets and operating across all categories, although most were selective due to the quality available.

Prices ease despite some better lines available

The better quality B muscle vealer steers were steady on last week making 206¢, while the heifer equivalents sold around 207¢/kg on average. Both medium and heavy yearling steers to feed sold 5¢ cheaper averaging 166¢ and 171¢/kg respectively, while the better quality heavy weights to slaughter increased 4¢/kg.

Heavy yearling heifers to processor orders were back 2¢, while 500kgs to 600kg steers were relatively unchanged, averaging 176¢ and 182¢ for C3 and 4 muscle lines.

Light weight D muscle grown heifers sold to a mixed trend up 5¢ for 3 scores but back 1¢ to 2¢/kg for 2 and 4 scores. Medium dairy cows sold 2¢ to 6¢ cheaper, while heavy weight lines followed a similar trend back 1¢ to 6¢/kg.

New South Wales

Dryer conditions lift consignments

The first dry weekend over most of the state for some time produced larger cattle markets as producers found it easier to offload stock. Percentage wise, numbers lifted 40 per cent week-on-week. Wagga increased 20 per cent as the majority of the remaining markets gained from 48 per cent to as much as 73 per cent in some northern sales, however some numbers at markets improved from a low base.

Quality overall remains mixed

Some markets reported extra numbers of western cattle entering the competition, as the majority of the younger drafts offered are still mainly suitable for restocker and lot feeder purchases. Lot feeder and restockers continue to compete, however at a reduced level causing price reductions especially for the yearling heifer categories as most feeder steers also sold at cheaper levels.

Vealers continue to dominate the northern markets with fair percentages of export cattle, especially the cow categories, also sold throughout the state. The prime conditioned heavy steers and bullocks to slaughter continue to be limited in supply. Younger cattle suitable for the butcher trade continue to sell at a premium as supply remains scarce.

Competition weakened as numbers lift

NSW markets reported younger cattle at cheaper trends with the younger steers and heifers to restocker and lot feeder orders slipping as much as 10¢ to 15¢/kg in places.

The best of the prime conditioned well-muscled vealers to the butchers sold up to 221¢/kg at the Hunter markets. The estimated 200kg plus vealer steers and heifers returning to the paddock and selling to processor orders averaged 179¢ to 194¢/kg at the northern centres.

Yearling steers to feeder and restocker orders struggled in the competition and slipped back from 5¢ to 15¢ depending on weight to average 179¢ to 181¢/kg. Yearling heifers eased 6¢ to 11¢/kg to the restockers and feeders and remained fully firm to trade and butcher orders.

Heavy steers and bullocks to slaughter lost 5¢ as the heifer portion fell by 3¢/kg. Cows on average sold cheaper by 5¢ to 6¢ as the best heavy weights to the processors averaged from 131¢ to 143¢/kg. Heavy weight well-muscled bulls averaged 163¢/kg.

Western Australia

Temperatures moderate in the south as rain falls

Conditions remain reasonable in the northern and eastern pastoral areas where thunderstorm activity continued although temperatures remain hot in many areas. There was wide spread rainfall activity across much of the southern districts with rain fall recorded through areas in much need of a reprieve from the hot, dry weather. However there will be little or no benefit from this if further follow-up rain is not received. Temperatures were considerably more moderate this week in the south following the very hot levels experienced this summer. Feed and water levels continue to decline with supplementary feeding increasing, particularly in those areas that have already calved and those that are about to commence.

Throughput lifts

Saleyard numbers were marginally higher this week with the southwest sale operating again, although consignments at Great Southern declined. As has been the case in recent times the majority of physical market numbers were sourced from local regions with very minimal volumes of pastoral and ex-pastoral cattle offered. The supplies of prime trade and heavy weight steers and heifers remained tight, while weaner volumes were fair. Cow supplies have been solid across all three markets.

Prices improve due to quality

The heavy weight steer and heifer classes remained steady on last week despite the tight supplies due to improved trade competition. Trade weight yearlings were in tight supply, consequently recording improved local trade and retailer demand. Improved quality was the major driver behind the increase in values of both steers and heifers. Feeder and restocker demand, coupled with a selective live export demand for steers, created firm to dearer values in all classes. Cow quality and weight remained fair with producers more inclined to offload their cows through physical markets due to the improving demand of the past couple of weeks. Prices were again dearer with restockers active on plain and store grades.

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