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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

01 November 2013

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian territory by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

South Australia

Consignments reduce across the state

Total cattle throughput across SA, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, reduced 38% week-on-week, with all selling centres yarding fewer numbers, while Millicent’s fortnightly sale was not in operation this week. Consignments at Mount Gambier were 30% less compared with last week, with good numbers of vealers and fewer grown steers yarded. Naracoorte saw 32% fewer cattle consigned than last week, with restockers securing a moderate supply of the young cattle offered, while numbers at SA Livestock Exchange were 7% lower in comparison to week-ago levels.

Subdued demand and generally plainer condition

At markets across the state there was generally subdued bidding from the regular gallery of buyers. Overall quality at Mount Gambier was mixed, with feeder and restocker demand reportedly lower, while the reduced numbers of grown steers were in much plainer condition compared to previous yardings. The SA Livestock Exchange also saw feeder buyers active at lower prices, with restockers selective on purchases.

Quality at Naracoorte mainly improved week-on-week, with buyers displaying preference for the best quality and lighter weight lines. The young cattle section saw mostly medium to heavy weight lines in good condition, while the few grown cattle sold to slightly dearer price trends.

Prices vary across most categories

Medium weight C3 vealer steers to slaughter reduced 3¢ week-on-week, to settle on 174¢, while heavy weight C3 vealer heifers to processors sold 3¢ dearer and averaged 171¢/kg. Heavy weight C3 yearling steers to slaughter were 4¢ cheaper on 165¢, while the equivalent heifer portion averaged 7¢ lower on 156¢/kg.

The C3 bullocks sold 1¢ higher to processor orders, to average 169¢, while medium weight C3 grown heifers were back 4¢ on 151¢/kg. Heavy weight D3 beef cow grades were 2¢ dearer on 131¢, while heavy weight B2 bulls to processor orders eased 1¢ on last week, to average 132¢/kg.


Numbers ease across most centres

Victorian cattle numbers across MLA’s NLRS reported markets declined 26% overall to total 8,223 head. Throughput at Bairnsdale slipped 43%, while Ballarat was back 11% week-on-week. Camperdown recorded 24% fewer consignments, while Pakenham and Wodonga eased 41% and 31%, respectively. Numbers at Leongatha were 37% lower than the corresponding week and Shepparton experienced a 22% reduction. The only markets to defy the trend and report higher yardings this week were Colac and Warrnambool.

Greater percentages of secondary lines yarded

The market at the Pakenham young cattle sale was dominated by secondary slaughter grades and store cattle, with overall quality plainer week-on-week. At Shepparton there was a larger percentage of plainer 1 and 2 scores yarded in the export section and fewer supplementary fed cattle offered, causing overall quality to slip. Ballarat reported extra processor competition, and although quality was average, there were a few better quality pens of steers and cows available. There was extra northern competition at both Wodonga sales, with Colac also reporting extra buyers in attendance.

A larger proportion of the young cattle were purchased by restockers at Camperdown this week, although the usual buying group was not operating fully. Similarly, at the Pakenham grown cattle sale restockers increased their activity, but were met with extra competition from processors over suitable young lines.

Cow prices lift

Heavy weight B2 vealer steers to processors experienced a 2¢ lift in price to settle on an average of 199¢, while their heifer counterparts were up 1¢ to average 185¢/kg. Heavy C2 yearling steers to feeder buyers eased marginally to 165¢, while C3 lines to the trade were back 5¢ to average 175¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight C3 heifers to processors gained from 1¢ to 3¢, week-on-week, selling around 149¢/kg on average.

Heavy weight C3 grown steers met weaker price trends, back 4¢ on 171¢, while C4 bullocks slipped 6¢ to average 170¢/kg. Light D3 grown heifers, on the other hand, lifted 12¢ to 148¢/kg. Medium D2 and D3 score beef cows were 7¢ to 10¢ stronger on 123¢, while heavy D3 and D4 lines lifted 4¢ to 5¢ to average around 132¢/kg. The plainer D1 and D2 score heavy weight dairy cows were up 1¢ to 2¢ on 120¢/kg.


Numbers lift after scattered showers

Overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS increased by close to 12%, week on week. Recent rain forecasts saw numbers at markets in the very south-east corner of the state decline, while supply at Dalby and the Roma store sale increased. Most markets reported a fall in quality, with increased numbers of poor condition lines from north-west Queensland included in the line-up at Roma.

Dalby also experienced an influx of plain quality lines originating from drought affected western districts. Buyer attendance was erratic, with only limited numbers of restocker buyers present at the Roma store sale, while some overnight rain increased restocker competition at Dalby. All the regular processors were in attendance, however not all were operating at some markets.

Price reflects quality for young cattle

Young cattle experienced variable trends, with quality variations generally attributing to price movements. Most of the calves were D muscle lines and sold to restockers at an average of 128¢/kg. Light weight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 2¢ better at 169¢, while D muscle lines were in the largest numbers and remained firm at 145¢/kg. Medium weights to feed improved 6¢ to 7¢, with most sales in the high 160¢/kg range. Prices for heavy weights to feed improved 11¢ and, as the week progressed, larger increases were experienced. The large supply of light weight yearling heifers was dominated by D muscle lines and most returned to the paddock at an average of 131¢/kg. A small selection of medium weights to the trade improved 4¢ to average 162¢, with some to 185.2¢/kg.

Export cattle numbers retreat

The limited supply of heavy grown steers and bullocks were penned and prices generally remained firm. Heavy 3 score grown steers averaged 174¢ and a handful of better condition lines averaged 183¢/kg. The small selection of bullocks averaged 182¢, with sales to 185.2¢/kg. The reduction in the supply of cows was dominated by light and medium weights. Prices varied in places, with lean cows 3¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper. Light weight D2s averaged 81¢ and medium weights 98¢/kg. Medium weight 3 scores averaged 119¢ and heavy weights 122¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 146.2¢ to remain close to firm, averaging 137¢/kg.

Western Australia

Hotter temperatures

Temperatures have risen across WA, with temperatures spiking sharply in the southern agricultural districts. The traditional cattle rearing areas of the southwest remain green, while eastern and northern areas have now hayed off with harvest activity on the rise. Hay production has now been completed in the majority of areas. Feed supplies remain high throughout the districts, with crop yields also expected to be above average. Agents have reported that they are still waiting on grain finished contracts from the major processors, and subsequently the start of the two day sale format at Mt Barker will not begin until the first week of December.

Spring turnoff gains momentum

Supplies of local cattle continue to increase at physical markets, with the spring turnoff now in full swing and cattle levels direct-to-works also solid. Conditions in the far north remain very hot, while mustering activity remains moderate in the Murchison and Gascoyne regions. Muchea and Boyanup had increased their supplies. Muchea again had solid supplies of mixed quality pastoral cattle, while there were fewer consignments of prime trade and heavy weight local steers and heifers at all three weekly markets. Store yearling numbers remained moderate with similar cow volumes available.

Grown cattle sell cheaper

Trade weight yearling demand remained fair throughout the week, with most sales of both steers and heifers unchanged comparative to the previous week. Heavy weight steers and bullocks eased marginally despite the lower supplies, with this also the case in heavy weight mature heifer sales. The cow market started the week at lower levels, but this improved as the week progressed, with overall average prices for prime heavy weight grades similar to last week. Heavy weight bulls, particularly those in excess of 1000kg lwt, continued to record limited processor inquiry.

New South Wales

Cattle numbers slip

Cattle numbers on average slipped back 8%, however the continuing dry seasonal conditions lifted consignments at Dubbo and Singleton, week-on-week. CTLX Carcoar and Wagga declined 24%, as Tamworth and Gunnedah lost from 14% to 20% in total. The northern markets also lost numbers, as Casino dropped 27% compared to the previous week. Dubbo continues to yard large numbers, with 6,250 cattle penned.

Quality remains mixed

Markets again reported mainly mixed quality offerings, however all yarded good percentages of prime conditioned younger drafts suitable for the butchers. As expected, Dubbo again attracted numbers of plainer western cattle. Vealer steers were limited in supply and were outnumbered by the heifer portion. Yearlings were again well represented, with 5,712 steers offered, compared to 4,825 yearling heifers. Numbers of the grown steers and bullocks suitable for slaughter remained consistent, as over 1,500 were yarded. Cows continue to be presented in strong numbers, with another 5,000 penned.

Prices stabilise

Prime conditioned young cattle across all categories sold firm to dearer trends. The higher quality and popular breeds of the younger steers and heifers, purchased by restockers and lot feeders also sold dearer, however any plainer pens lost considerable competition.

Grown steers to slaughter experienced weaker competition with ample numbers penned at southern and South Australian markets. Heavy weights lost 4c to top at 186c, before averaging from 167c to 175c/kg, depending on finish. The general run of heifers sold close enough to firm to reach 161c, before averaging 143c/kg.

Cows again struggled, as southern processors failed to compete at some markets. Prices slipped 3c to 6c, as the plainer 2 scores averaged 102c, while the better finished 3 and 4 scores ranged from 104c to 152c/kg. Heavy weight bulls maintained firm prices.


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