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 9 August 2013
clock icon 7 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Quality more mixed and overall supply reduced

Victorian cattle supply covered by MLA’s NLRS decreased 14 per cent week-on-week, with most markets yarding fewer consignments, write market analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia.

The very cold and wet weekend and continuing rain throughout the week no doubt contributed too much of the reduction in numbers. Quality amongst centres varied more widely this week. Most were again mixed but one or two centres contained a lot more well finished young cattle and grown steers. Much of this was attributed to supplementary feeding especially of yearling cattle. Plain 1 and 2 scores made up much of the cow yardings across the state.

Prices generally improve

Buyer attendance was good and there was extra competition at some markets earlier in the week. Prices were dearer for nearly all categories of cattle. Manufacturing grown steers at one or two markets lifted up to 15¢/kg. Restocker and lot feeder activity varied as some centres had stronger competition, while others had limited inquiry. Competition for cows resulted in prices being mostly 5¢/kg higher, but some grades sold cheaper due to reduced buyer attendance at some markets.

Direct-to-works rates improve slightly

Processors also lifted their OTH rates slightly this week. Cows were up to 5¢/kg cwt better, while manufacturing and grown steers were a few cents higher. Some vealer and yearling grades lifted slightly, while others remained unchanged.

South Australia

Supply eases

Overall supply decreased by 8 per cent week-on-week, with yardings at MLA’s NLRS reported markets totalling 2,144 head. Mount Gambier yarded 32 per cent less cattle, while the SA Livestock Exchange increased by 42 per cent and Naracoorte lifted marginally, recording a 4 per cent increase. Yearling cattle and cows dominated yardings, with quality reportedly very good at the SA Livestock Exchange and Naracoorte sales, and somewhat improved at Mount Gambier compared to last week.

Buyers subdued at the SA Livestock Exchange

While all the usual buyers were present and operating at Naracoorte and Mount Gambier, there was one processor that did not operate at the SA Livestock Exchange and the others were reportedly subdued. Feeder buyers were selectively active on light weights, but as quality diminished, so too did buyer interest. While cows sold to solid processor competition, restockers were sporadic in their purchases and prices at the SA Livestock Exchange generally eased.

Prices vary

Heavy weight C3 vealer steers sold to an average price of 212¢, up 22¢, while medium weight C3 heifers averaged 207¢, lifting 9¢/kg week-on-week. Heavy C3 yearling steers were well supplied and gained 5¢ to average around 188¢/kg. Their heifer counterparts, however, lost 3¢ to make 177¢/kg. Heavy weight C3 grown steers were slightly dearer, up 4¢ to 189¢, while light D3 heifers gained 2¢ to make around 141¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows sold to an easing trend of 10¢ with average prices settling on 128¢, while the heavy D3s were back 1¢ on 148¢/kg.


Numbers decline

Overall cattle consignments declined 30 per cent across the Queensland markets reported by MLA’s NLRS, with a reduction in throughput recorded at Roma store, Roma prime and Dalby, back by 12 per cent , 56 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. The exclusion of Longreach due to fortnightly operation was also a factor behind the large reduction.

The majority of the cattle continue to be yearling steers and heifers, making up 38 per cent of consignments, with another large influx of calves from western regions present at Roma store. Export grown steers and heifer numbers declined, as did the number of mixed quality cows offered. Increased restocker and feeder interest at Roma store and Dalby saw prices improve slightly, while quality lines are still limited in supply.

Export consignments dearer

Export buyer attendance was reportedly not as good as the previous week at the Toowoomba Elders and Landmark sales, but overall prices generally trend dearer. Medium weight C3 grown steers were up 7¢, selling at an average price of 153.6¢, while heavy C4 steers gained 1¢ to make 162.8¢/kg. Plainer lines of cows were 3¢ to 7¢/kg dearer, while good heavy cows met a mixed trend, ranging from 4¢ cheaper to 3¢/kg dearer.

Young cattle prices vary

The number of calves brought forward was similar to last week, with the majority again going to restockers at improved prices, up 15¢ to 23¢/kg, with the better quality lines reaching a top of 204¢/kg. Vealer steers to restock were relatively unchanged, averaging 184¢, while medium weight heifers to process sold 8¢/kg dearer, settling on 163¢/kg. Light weight yearling steers to returning to the paddock improved 3¢ on average to make 178¢, while the plain quality medium weights to feed sold 3¢ cheaper, ranging from 120¢ to 158¢/kg. Demand from restockers for light weight heifers was subdued and averaged 16¢ cheaper on 130¢, while to process prices improved 6¢, ranging from 141¢ to 157¢/kg.

Western Australia 

Big rainfall recorded in the south

Solid seasonal conditions remain in the top end of WA following on from the good rainfall in the north during June. Mustering activity remains high throughout the northern pastoral regions, with live export activity also remaining reasonable in the north. The southern districts of WA recorded a very wet week as several cold fronts brought heavy rainfall to the traditional cattle rearing areas of the southwest. Some falls exceeded 100mm, creating some localised flooding, but this heavy rainfall has now set up these areas for a good spring season. Pasture growth remains strong in these areas and has been aided by unseasonal warm weather, with no frosts recorded now for several weeks.

Supply firm

Processors continue to report strong supplies of cattle from the northern pastoral regions, also commenting on the good quality and weight being recorded. Physical saleyard numbers were only marginally higher this week, due to increased numbers of pastoral cattle at Muchea. The southwest sale was extremely small, with less than 100 head yarded, while the Great Southern also recorded another small yarding, which is not uncommon at this time of year.

Demand strengthens

Pastoral heavy weight steers and bullocks were of a good quality this week and recorded good processor inquiry, with little change realised in prices. The quality of both grass and grain assisted trade weight yearlings remained very mixed this week with local trade and retailer competition remaining firm, but very selective.

Local yearling store quality and weight continued to be very mixed. There was little change in feeder demand, while restockers were marginally more aggressive in lightweight store categories and this saw a slight increase in prices. Cow volumes were only moderate this week but, despite this, weight and quality in both local and pastoral drafts remained fair.

Trade demand strengthened in all cow categories as the week progressed, with most sales 3¢ to 4¢/kg dearer. Heavy weight bull sales were also moderately dearer to strengthened processor competition, while live export interest in lightweight classes remained selective.

New South Wales

Cattle numbers ease

Numbers slipped by 8 per cent at MLA’s NLRS reported markets week-on-week. Wagga commenced the week, penning 7 per cent fewer cattle, as Forbes yarded much the same, while Tamworth increased their consignments by 10 per cent . CTLX Carcoar slipped 7 per cent , as Dubbo lost 22 per cent in total. Armidale sold similar numbers, as did Gunnedah, while Inverell, Scone and Singleton lost from 14 per cent to 26 per cent , week-on-week.

Quality remained mixed

The majority of markets reported a mixed quality offering. Some sales reported greater numbers of prime young cattle suitable for the trade and butcher orders in their offering. Processor competition for the export categories was limited at the odd market during the week.

Yearlings again outnumbered the vealer categories, as the greater portion was suitable for restocker and lot feeder orders. Cow categories made up the bulk of the older cattle penned, with around 2,077 head offered, a decrease of 40 per cent , week-on-week. Prime conditioned heavy weight steers remained around equal in number, with around 863 head offered at MLA’s NLRS reported markets.

Variable trends this week

Medium weight vealer steers returning to the paddock lost 5¢/kg, as the same weight to processors maintained their firm prices. The heifer portion to processors sold close enough to firm, to average 161¢, after reaching 190¢/kg. Light weight yearling steers, together with the heavier pens to restocker and lot feeder orders, sold 2¢ to 3¢ either side of firm, as the medium weights averaged from 184¢ to 189¢/kg. Heavy weight yearling steers and heifers to the butchers ranged from 150¢ to 219¢/kg.

Heavy weight steers and bullocks to slaughter struggled to remain firm; however prime bullocks sold to spirited bidding. Cows sold to a marginally dearer trend, as the plainer 2 scores averaged 120¢/kg. The better covered 3 and 4 scores ranged from 100¢ to 162¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls averaged from 150¢ to 155¢, as well-muscled lots topped at 183¢/kg.

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