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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

02 November 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

Increased yardings

After cold windy conditions late last week combining with very hot conditions early this week, there have been increased yardings as cattle producers destock due to tightening feed reserves. There is also a possibility that there may not be too much hay or grain produced this year, impacting on producers decision making.

The SA LE’s larger yarding contained mixed quality runs that generally sold to an easing trend, with only a few supplementary feds attracting any enthusiasm. Feeder buyers were active and paid improved prices for medium weight yearling steers and light heifers, while all other categories lost ground. The export categories were averaging 12¢/kg less.

Naracoorte’s good quality yarding sold to fluctuating competition from most of the regular buyers. A supermarket was again predominately sourcing yearling heifers. There was strong competition late in the sale for B- muscled yearling and grown steers. Feeder and restocker orders were also active.

Mt. Gambier’s larger yarding sold to fluctuating demand due to a couple of buyers operating on a limited basis. Fresh quality B-muscled vealers attracted strong demand at dearer levels. Yearling steers were marginally cheaper, while the heifers were dearer due to some supermarket influence. However, grown steers and bullocks were generally cheaper, while cows were unchanged to slightly dearer for most.

Erratic prices

The B muscle vealer steers to the trade sold from 205¢ to 242¢/kg to be dearer. The C muscled sales were variable selling from 190¢ to 205¢/kg. Feeders sourced C2 steers from 155¢ to 196¢ at prices averaging 15¢/kg less. Vealer heifers sold from 154¢ to 230¢, with some sales 5¢ to 15¢/kg dearer. Yearling steer C3 medium and heavyweight sales ranged between 150¢ and 195¢ to be 3¢ to 8¢/kg less. Increased C2 sales to feeder activity were from 142¢ to 183¢ or 7¢ to16¢/kg cheaper. Yearling heifer sales ranged from 146¢ and 190¢ at prices 6¢ dearer for the heavyweights and 3¢ to 7¢/kg less for the rest.

Grown steers and bullocks sold from 160¢ to 195¢ to be 4¢ to 6¢ cheaper, and averaging close to 320¢/kg cwt. The beef cows sold from 104¢ to 136¢ at prices unchanged to 9¢ cheaper with only some heavy 2 scores being dearer and generally from 220¢ to 265¢/kg cwt. Friesian 2 and 3 scores cows were dearer selling from 115¢ to 133¢/kg.

Victoria

Larger numbers

Supply increased 8% again across markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Going against the trend was Ballarat and both Wodonga sales. When compared to this week last year yardings are up 40%. Total throughput for the 2012 calendar year is tracking only 2% above the corresponding period last year with most markets offering greater numbers. The centres that have offered less numbers this year though are Ballarat, Camperdown, Colac and Warrnambool.

Young cattle numbers as a percentage of total state throughput was 31%, in line with last week. Yearling heifers though accounted for 41% of the young cattle offered with most being secured for slaughter. Most of the grown cattle were cows and grown steers. Highlighting the large number of cows was the fact that they out numbered total young cattle.

Reflective of the seasonal conditions that are varied across the state, agents have struggled in recent weeks to find quality cattle to offer for both domestic and export processing. This week was no exception with mixed quality evident at all markets. Despite this. Pakenham on Monday did offer improved quality vealers and some good drafts of grown steers and bullocks.

Cheaper prices

Prices were cheaper for almost all categories with falls of 5¢ to 10¢/kg common across the different markets. Going against the trend were the good quality B muscle vealers which were firm to 5¢ dearer with most making from 207¢ to 223¢/kg. Most C muscle medium weight vealer heifers sold over a wide range from 171¢ to 195¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling steers to slaughter eased 3¢ to average 191¢ as the heavy weights held firm at 190¢/kg. Large number of medium and heavy C3 yearling heifers fell up to 14¢ with most sales from 162¢ to 170¢/kg.

Heavy C3 and C4 steers sold close to firm with most making from 181¢ to 188¢ after selling to a top of 196¢/kg. The C4 bullocks slipped 2¢ to average 180¢ while the heavy bullocks made closer to 171¢/kg. Medium weight D3 beef cows fell 7¢ to 128¢ as the D3 and D4s were 4¢ cheaper and ranged from 133¢ to 136¢/kg. Medium dairy cows mostly made from 94¢ to 118¢ as the heavy dairy cows sold from 114¢ to 123¢/kg.

Queensland

Rain restricts supply

Rainfall across much of the far western supply areas reduced overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 18% week-on-week. The Roma sales experienced the largest decline in supply with total numbers for the week down by 47%. However with only very isolated falls east of Roma supply at Dalby lifted by 11%. The deterioration in seasonal conditions was reflected in the overall standard of the young cattle across most markets, while the quality of the export classes continues to be fair to good.

All the usual buyers were present in the young cattle section plus a few extra restockers were included in the line-up at the Roma store sale and were eager to secure some cattle. The rain in places improved restocker enthusiasm and prices responded to gain a few cents from the previous weeks decline.

Prices ease for grown cattle

A fairly large sample of lightweight C2 yearling steers averaged 206¢ with some well-bred lines making to 218.2¢/kg in pen lots. A relatively short supply of good vealer heifers received strong demand from butchers plus local and southern processors with most making over 200¢/kg. However lightweight yearling heifers showing the effects of the deteriorating pastures mostly sold in the high 160¢/kg range. Medium weight yearling steers to feed experienced a dearer trend to average 7¢ better at 195¢ with some to 213.2¢/kg. This trend also flowed onto heavyweights with a large selection 8¢ dearer at 187¢ with a few pen lots to 198.2¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight yearling heifers to the trade lost ground in value with the heavy weights losing 9¢ to average 168¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks commenced the week on a firm trend however by mid week average prices eased by 2¢ to 3¢, with most in the early 180¢ range with some supplementary fed classes making to an isolated 194.2¢/kg. Cow prices struggled to maintain the recent run of high prices and most classes lost ground. Medium weight 3 scores lost 2¢ to average 132¢ and good heavy cows lost a similar amount to average 146¢/kg.

New South Wales

Throughput slips

Consignments across the state declined by 10% at markets reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service as the major saleyards yarded fewer cattle. Dubbo eased 12% although good numbers a heavy grown steers and cows were present. Gunnedah was back 19% with yearlings making up the majority of throughput while Wagga’s yarding was back by 16% as secondary yearling cattle were in abundance. Scone yarded was back 37% as throughput last week was relatively high. The only saleyards to record an increase was CTLX and Tamworth, both increasing by 12% and 13% respectively. Forbes, Casino and Singleton were relatively steady on last week’s levels.

Plain quality throughout

All saleyards have reports of plain cattle dominating throughout as the dry spring weather continues. Wagga, CTLX, Gunnedah and Scone all reported mixed yardings with limited numbers of supplementary fed cattle available. Tamworth had reports of some better quality heavy cows, while some well finished yearling lines were present at Inverell and attracted higher prices. The usual buyers were present and operating across all saleyards.

Prices decline

The majority of price categories declined despite some markets reporting slightly better prices throughout the week. Processors secured medium weight C2 vealer steers for around 198¢ and paid up to 215¢ for the heavy weight varieties. Light vealer heifers sold to restockers 12¢ cheaper on 154¢ and the medium weights averaged 150¢ to be 11¢/kg back. Well-conditioned vealer heifers to slaughter made 204¢ to be firm. Light yearlings steers suitable to restock were in solid supply and sold 5¢ cheaper on 178¢ while the medium weights to feed made 175¢, back 7¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight yearling heifers to slaughter made 164¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers settled on 175¢ and the bullocks were 2¢ lower on 178¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows to slaughter were reasonably firm averaging 118¢ and the better conditioned heavy weights made 140¢/kg. Heavy C2 bulls averaged 151¢ to top at 181¢/kg.

West Australia

Rainfall has limited impact

Northern pastoral regions of WA continue to record very hot temperatures with some thunderstorm activity recorded over the past week. After hot weekend conditions in the southern parts of the state several weak cold fronts crossed the coast bringing wide spread rainfall and considerably cooler conditions. The majority of hay and silage making has now been completed in the Agricultural districts with light rainfall experienced this week having little or no impact on quality which has thus far been reported as good.

Cattle supply decreases

Cattle numbers were lower at both Mt Barker and the southwest, while Muchea continued to have solid and firm numbers penned. The majority of these were sourced from pastoral regions with very solid supplies of both cows and bulls available from these regions. Local heavy weight steer and heifer supplies remained tight, while trade weight yearling volumes remained reasonable. Yearling store grades were lower with slightly increased supplies of new season vealers recorded. Cow supplies remained fair from local areas with processors continuing to report solid booking levels on a direct-to-works basis.

Trade demand generally lower

Vealer demand from the feeder and restocker sectors was generally stronger this week with most classes recorded slightly higher prices. Trade weight yearlings were again purchased by both the trade and feeder sectors at similar price levels. There was little or no change realised in demand for yearling stores from either the feeder or restocker sectors. Heavy weight steers and heifers recorded weak trade demand that resulted in further price falls. This was also the case in both heavy weight cow and bull categories with quite substantial falls in overall prices recorded. Despite reasonable live export demand being recorded in lightweight bull classes the very healthy pastoral supplies did have a negative impact on prices.

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