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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

25 January 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Western Australia

Tropical low brings solid falls to the north

The northern pastoral regions of WA have again benefitted from a tropical low that crossed across the top of state and eventually turned into a tropical cyclone bringing with it wide spread and heavy rainfall to both the Kimberley and Pilbara areas.

This rainfall has seen a solid turn around in seasonal fortunes for the pastoral north which had been struggling for moisture. The agricultural districts in southern WA recorded another week of hot temperatures and predominately fine weather.

The recent spate of wide spread thunderstorms and associated rainfall has continued to see a deterioration in feed quality with only far south coastal areas remaining green and enjoying any benefit from the recent moisture.

Numbers lower

Processors continue to report very solid booking levels on a direct-to-works basis with kill space remaining at a premium. Saleyard numbers were lower this week with solid falls at both Muchea and the Great Southern this week with the southwest sale remaining of a similar size.

It is now obvious that the majority of weaners have now been sold following several very large sale weeks this month. Heavy and trade weight steer and heifer supplies remained limited at all three saleyards this week, while weaner and cow supplies remained reasonable with very limited numbers of pastoral cattle available as the majority were sourced from local areas.

Strong cow demand

There was little or no change recorded in the prices of either heavy or trade weight steers and heifers under a firm and similar processor demand and competition.

Weaner weight, quality and condition scores were all lower this week with producers now nearing the end of last year’s calves. The market rebounded after the lower demand seen the previous week with all grades dearer by as much as 20c/kg.

Cow demand continued to improve marginally due to a stronger processor demand.


Steady numbers

The overall supply of cattle at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS hovered around the previous week’s level. Numbers fell at Dalby, while numbers at both the Roma store and prime sale increased as the dry weather prevailed.

Overall quality across most markets was mixed, especially in the young cattle sections, and there was a sizeable run of Brahman cows from northern Queensland included in the line-up at the Roma prime sale. Buyer attendance was generally good however at midweek markets not all the export buyers were keen to make purchases.

Demand varies

Young cattle experienced a wide variation in demand and at Warwick the best of the vealer steers and heifers suited to the local butcher trade improved in price. However, the vast majority of the young cattle suffered price reductions of 10¢ to 12¢/kg.

By midweek isolated good falls of rain in the supply area west of Dalby renewed restocker enthusiasm and prices for lightweight categories lifted by 10¢ to 15¢/kg. A fairly large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 189¢, with one consignment making to 207.2¢/kg.

Feeder operators generally provided a very solid base for well bred yearling steers and heifers, while buyers were very selective on the poorer quality lines. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged in the high 170¢ range with a few sales to 190.2¢/kg.

The best of the lightweight yearling heifers to feeders, restockers and the trade averaged 170¢/kg. Nevertheless D muscle classes were in the largest numbers and sold from 150¢ to 160¢/kg.

Export slaughter lines of heavy steers and bullocks received a strong enquiry at markets early in the week. However, by midweek less buyer competition saw prices 4¢ cheaper on average and more on very heavy weight classes.

Heavy steers across all markets averaged 176¢ and sold to 187.2¢/kg. Bullocks mostly sold around 173¢ with a few sales to 184.2¢/kg. Cows experienced a similar trend and medium weight 2 scores averaged 119¢ and 3 scores 135¢/kg. Good heavy cows on occasions made into the mid 160¢/kg range with most at 144¢/kg.


Consignments decline

Total throughput was subdued this week, back 20 per cent at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Both Shepparton and Wodonga yarded fewer numbers back by 37 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

Camperdown yarded predominately grown cattle with yearlings and vealers in short supply. Leongatha and Pakenham were relatively unchanged on last week, while Colac’s throughput rose by 34 per cent.

Quality still plain

A sprinkling of B muscle yearling steers and heifer lines were evident at Camperdown and Shepparton, albeit in limited numbers. The well finished lines did sell slightly cheaper although did little to affect the market.

Suitable feeder and restocker lines continue to dominate all saleyards with buyer interest still subdued due to the dry season. The usual buyers were present across markets although most remained selective in a cheaper market.

Prices slip due to quality

Heavy B muscle vealer steers sold 7¢ dearer averaging 178¢, while heavy C3 lines to slaughter slipped 2¢ on average making 170¢/kg. Heavy C3 vealer heifers to process orders was firm on 155¢, while heavy yearling steers to feed were back 10¢ on average, making 149¢/kg. Processors paid from 141¢ to 191¢ for heavy C3 steers.

Medium D3 muscled yearling heifers to slaughter sold 2¢ dearer on 138¢, while heavy C3 lines generally sold from 130¢ to 200¢/kg. Heavy C3 grown steers to process topped at 176¢, averaging 159¢, while C4 bullocks averaged 158¢, up 1¢ on last week.

Light D4 heifers sold 8¢ dearer averaging 136¢, while the heavy weight equivalents were unchanged on 125¢/kg. Heavy D1 dairy cows were unchanged averaging 96¢, while heavy D3 beef cows to process made from 90¢ to 126¢/kg.

New South Wales

Yardings decline

Total yardings were reduced by 17 per cent as the larger selling centres reported fewer cattle. Both Inverell and Scone were back by around 28 per cent with fewer yearlings yarded, while consignments at Tamworth slipped 44 per cent with less grown steers on offer.

Wagga and Dubbo also reported fewer numbers with secondary yearling cattle still in big numbers. CTLX, Gunnedah and Goulburn’s yardings were all similar to last week. Forbes was the only saleyard to report more numbers, lifting 27 per cent as the dry weather prevails.

Secondary lines abundant

The persistent dry weather has seen grass fed yearling cattle continue to loose condition, which is common across the majority of saleyards. The supplementary fed lines scattered throughout markets are reaching high prices, however they are in limited numbers.

Singleton and Scone did yard some well finished lines suitable to butchers and processors. Processors remain reserved as reports of processors being fully booked are apparent throughout the market.

Feeder and restockers remain selective in the hope of a seasonal turnaround. The usual buyers were present at most markets, whilst Tamworth, Inverell and Scone had reduced buyer interest.

Prices on the slide

Prices continued to slide across most categories, despite some increases due to quality. Medium vealer steers to restock were relatively unchanged, averaging 182¢, while C2 heifer lines to slaughter topped at 175¢ to average 157¢/kg.

Light yearling steers returning to the paddock lost 8¢ on average making 165¢, while medium weights to feed were unchanged on last week averaging 169¢/kg for C2 lines. Heavy weights to feed ranged from 130¢ to 188¢/kg.

Restockers purchased yearling heifers from 130¢ to 175¢ for the C and D 2 scores, while medium weight lines to feed topped at 179¢ to average 148¢/kg. Heavy grown steers to process slipped 4¢ on 160¢, while light C3’s were unchanged on 179¢/kg.

Medium weigh D2 lines to slaughter averaged 2¢ cheaper on 109¢, while heavy D4 lines finished on 120¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers still high

South Australia Livestcok Exchange's larger mixed quality yarding sold to a weaker trend. Feeder orders were active on lightweight store conditioned young cattle also at lower prices.

The mixed quality yarding featured mainly yearlings and a large increase in cow numbers, with the latter selling to a much weaker trend as all sales fell back below 105¢ for the beef cows, with the pastoral bred D-muscled medium weights 52¢ to 96¢/kg. Most young cattle were 3¢ to 13¢ cheaper, with isolated sales of C3 heavy yearling steers 31¢/kg less.

Naracoorte’s larger yarding featured mixed quality runs that sold to limited competition from a small number of regular SA and Victorian trade and export buyers that was exacerbated further by some buyers not operating.

However, a South East processor was sourcing yearlings destined for a feedlot that lifted some sales and also some cattle for Wagga, presumably for kill requirements. Most categories attracted a weaker trend, with only some young cattle and a good run of beef cows mid-sale being dearer.

Mt. Gambier’s smaller good quality yarding sold quite erratically, with vealer heifer sales the hardest to follow. There was an excellent quality run of B-muscled Murray Grey vealers that attracted strong demand, while a very good quality yarding of heavy steers and bullocks tended to sell at improved prices.

Only isolated sales improve

While most categories lost further ground, isolated sales were dearer where quality suited.

The B-muscled vealer steers to Victorian wholesale competition sold from 152¢ to 211¢, with the lightweights 5¢ dearer and the medium and heavyweights 8¢ to 10¢/kg less. Feeders and restockers sourced C and B-muscled steers from 110¢ to 162¢/kg at varying trends.

Vealer heifers sold erratically to the trade from 128¢ to 190¢, with lightweight sales 15¢ dearer and 2¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper on the balance. Light C and B-muscled vealer heifers to feeder activity sold from 110¢ to 158¢/kg.

The C3 and B2 medium and heavyweight yearling steers sold from 120¢ to 162¢ with an isolated sale at 185¢, to be a further 4¢ to 5¢/kg less. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights sold between 120¢ and 172¢, or 3¢ to 5¢/kg lower. Pastoral bred heifers sold from 70¢ to 135¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks sold mainly from 132¢ to 159¢ with the medium weights 10¢ less, and the heavyweights unchanged to 3¢ dearer as most were averaging around 260¢/kg cwt. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold between 60¢ and 124¢ at prices unchanged to 16¢ cheaper, and mainly 165¢ to 235¢/kg cwt.

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