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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

22 March 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

South Australia

Increased numbers

With little rain last week, more hot weather and the up coming Easter break there have been increased numbers yarded at all selling centres, with only Millicent’s numbers retreating. Only the SA LE on Monday and Naracoorte on Tuesday will be holding sales next week.

The SA LE’s larger mixed quality yarding attracted stronger competition from the usual trade and export buyers. An increased yarding of well bred lightweight store cattle attracted solid feeder demand at mainly dearer levels.

Most C1 and C2 yearling steers sold to feeder activity, with the C2 sales averaging 15¢/kg more. Trade purchases of C3 yearling steers and heifers were erratic. A larger yarding of beef cows sold at improved prices.

Naracoorte’s quality improved despite the larger numbers and featured an excellent quality run of supplementary fed steers and heifers that sold to very strong Victorian wholesale competition at much dearer levels. A very good quality yarding of heavy beef cows sold at improved levels. Feeder and restocker orders were also active where quality and weights suited.

Mt. Gambier’s mixed quality yarding sold to solid demand for the grown steers and bullocks. The young cattle sold erratically, with the cows generally cheaper despite most of the regular SA and Victorian buyers being present.

Millicent smaller mixed quality yarding while featuring their well renowned bean finished B and C-muscled yearling steers and heifers, attracted limited competition due to one Victorian wholesale order being absent this week. Feeder and restocker orders were also active.

Fluctuating demand

The B-muscled vealer steers to Victorian wholesale competition sold from 179¢ to 204¢/kg at slightly dearer levels. The C-muscled sales to the trade sold from 160¢ to 204¢/kg at unchanged prices.

Feeders and restockers sourced increased numbers of C1 and C2 steers from 125¢ to 184¢, with the 1 scores 7¢ less and the C2 sales to restockers 7¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifer C-muscled sales to the trade were between 127¢ and 204¢ with an isolated sale at 217¢/kg.

This left some sales 10¢ dearer and the lightweights 11c/kg cheaper. Supplementary fed B and C-muscled yearling steers sold from 170¢ to 210¢ at prices unchanged to 7¢/kg dearer. Grass finished steers sold from 145¢ to 180¢/kg at unchanged prices. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights sold from 140¢ to 197¢/kg at similar prices.

Grown steers and bullocks sold mainly between 150¢ and 183¢, or unchanged to 5¢ dearer and generally 285¢ to 325¢/kg cwt. The 3 to 5 score beef cows sold from 94¢ to 137¢, at prices unchanged to 5¢ dearer and mainly 200¢ to 250¢/kg cwt.


Consignments decrease

The majority of selling centres recorded numbers similar to the previous week, however, a drop in supply at the Roma store sale reduced overall numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 13 per cent. Overall quality is deteriorating in places, with around 23 per cent of total cattle penned failing to meet the majority of market specifications.

The standard of the relatively small selection of heavy grown steers and bullocks was generally good, while the cows contained increased numbers of light and medium weights in the lower fat score range.

Buyer attendance on the young cattle was generally good, but at markets early in the week not all the usual export processors were present. Nevertheless, by mid-to-late week all major exporters were back in the market.

Young cattle classes cheaper

Prices declined for a number of classes of young cattle, with vealer heifers the most affected as average prices fell by around 18¢, to 164¢, with isolated sales to local butchers at 200¢/kg.

Well bred lightweight yearling steers to restockers experienced strong competition, however a small drop in quality resulted in a large decline in price. A fair sample averaged 194¢ with a few well-bred lines reaching 224¢/kg.

Medium weights to feed for the domestic market also received strong support from feedlots, with most close to 180¢ and some sales to 199¢/kg. Heavy feeders went against this trend to average 8¢ lower at 165¢/kg. The best of the lightweight yearling heifers averaged 164¢, while inferior classes were oversupplied and most sold around 140¢/kg.

The grown steers also contained large numbers of underweight classes and most sold in the mid 130¢/kg range. Heavy grown steers to export slaughter averaged 12¢ cheaper at 166¢, with sales to 175¢/kg.

Bullocks also made to 175¢ with most 10¢ lower at 167¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 10¢ cheaper at 108¢/kg, while 3 scores lost 4¢ to average 126¢/kg. Good heavy cows across all markets averaged 7¢ cheaper at 137¢, with occasional sales to 151¢/kg.


Cattle supply lifts

Victorian cattle supply as reported by MLA’s NLRS gained 60 per cent week-on-week with all markets yarding higher numbers after last week’s Public Holiday. Camperdown consigned 16 per cent more cattle, while Colac yarded 41 per cent more stock. Leongatha lifted their throughput 42 per cent, while Warrnambool improved their yarding by 57 per cent. Shepparton and Wodonga only had moderate increases in supply.

Young cattle quality mixed

Quality was plain across most centres this week as the dry conditions prevail throughout much of the state, with limited restocker interest. Most of the buyers were on hand this week to fill extra orders before the Easter break. There were some good lines of supplementary fed yearlings and vealers at Shepparton. Lot feeder buyers at Wodonga were keen to secure well-bred lines of secondary quality yearlings.

There was a good quality yarding of grown cattle which saw the better covered cows gain ground at Ballarat. There was solid demand over all weight classes at Wodonga.

Prices vary

Heavy weight C3 vealer steers to slaughter gained 8¢ to 197¢, while C3 vealer heifers were 5¢ higher on 181¢/kg. Heavy weight yearling steers to slaughter lost 3¢ to 185¢, while heavy weight D3 yearling heifers to slaughter were 10¢ higher on 163¢/kg.

Heavy weight grown steers to slaughter were 3¢ dearer on 179¢, while bullocks to slaughter were firm to 1¢ dearer on 178¢/kg. Medium weight manufacturing steers to processors gained 3¢ to average 159¢/kg. Heavy weight D4 cows to slaughter were 8¢ lower on 123¢/kg.

New South Wales

Cheaper prices cause lower consignments

Numbers slipped this week around 28 per cent, as the continuing cheaper prices throughout the state caused some producers to adopt a wait and see policy. Wagga eased back 15 per cent as Forbes, Gunnedah and CTLX, fell by 30–47 per cent. The northern markets, along with Dubbo, all reported significantly reduced consignments as the Hunter markets slipped marginally.

Quality overall was mixed

Most sales saw continuing supplies of plainer cattle entering the market, with the majority suitable for restocker and lot feeder purchases. Lot feeders and restockers competed at reduced levels as prices continue to retreat back.

Vealers continue to dominate the northern markets, with fair percentages of the cow categories throughout the state still entering the competition. At most MLA NLRS markets prime younger cattle are still scarce in the pens, however, the Hunter markets reported ample numbers suitable for butchers.

Heavy steers and bullocks continue to be limited throughout the state, however, some sales sold extra consignments.

Competition remains weaker

NSW markets reported younger cattle continuing their cheaper trends, as vealers returning to the paddocks slipped another 5–15¢ and even 20¢/kg in places. The heavier end suitable for the butchers mainly sold at unchanged prices.

Yearling steers to feeder and restocker orders again sold to a cheaper trend and slipped back from 3–8¢, as those to the restockers suffered the greatest losses.

The medium weights (330kg plus) averaged from 171–178¢, with the best breeds reaching 194¢/kg. The prime conditioned pens held their values relatively unchanged.

Yearling heifers lost 8¢/kg for the lighter end and maintained their firm values for the medium weights. Export weight cattle generally slipped 3–5¢ for the heavy steers and bullocks, while the cow categories lost around 7¢/kg. The top cows in the state reached 148¢, as most sales fell around the 117¢/kg range.

Western Australia

Mustering not far away in the north

The far north of WA recorded further thunderstorm activity this week, and conditions remain fair following a slow start to this year’s monsoon season. With temperatures moderating it is expected that mustering will begin on some stations in the north within the next fortnight or so.

The end of last week, in the southern corner of the country, saw frontal activity bring wide spread and generally heavy rainfall to the majority of the Agricultural districts.

Warm soil conditions coupled with the solid falls has seen a solid germination in pasture paddocks and rejuvenation in perennial pastures. It is hoped that there will be further follow-up to this moisture to sustain further feed growth.

Numbers decline

The numbers of cattle seen in physical markets was marginally lower this week. Most were again sourced from local Ag regions with only limited supplies of ex-pastoral cattle recorded.

Processors have commented that the supplies of prime cattle have begun to slow on a direct to works basis, as would be expected at this time of year.

The numbers of weaners seen in physical markets remained reasonable, with these accounting for the majority of total numbers sold. Trade and heavy weight steer and heifer volumes remained negligible with cow numbers remaining fair at all three sales.

The quality of the limited supplies of trade and heavy weight steers and heifers was more mixed this week. Subsequently, values eased despite a solid processor and local trade inquiry, with yearlings also recording a selective feeder demand.

Demand for weaner steers eased marginally also, after the stronger limits seen the previous week, while weaner heifer values rose marginally to both the feeder and restocker sectors.

As numbers tighten, trade demand continues to increase in cow classes. Heavy weight prime cows lifted solidly once again with the average approximating 135¢/kg.

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