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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

03 May 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).

South Australia

Some welcome rainfall

While there has been some welcome rainfall last week in many areas, it was generally negated by very strong winds on Saturday. A good germination is now starting to turn the country-side green with more rain needed to capitalise on this. Despite the prospect of more pasture growth if it keeps raining, there are still many 1 and 2 score cattle being yarded.

The SA LE’s numbers increased in very mixed quality runs containing mainly young cattle that sold to erratic demand from the usual trade and export buyers. There were more pastoral bred cattle penned, albeit with only a few manufacturing steers in 3 score condition.

However, the yearling steers and heifers were plainer in quality and struggled to extract any bids. Feeder orders were active at generally dearer levels for well-bred yearlings. Cow prices tended to retreat.

Naracoorte’s slightly larger mixed quality yarding sold to very selective SA and Victorian trade and export competition. There were only a few sales dearer for supplementary fed yearlings, and some very good quality medium and heavy grown steers. Small numbers of vealers were yarded and failed to attract much interest from the trade, feeders and restockers. The cows sold to fluctuating demand from processors and restockers.

Mt. Gambier’s smaller mixed quality yarding sold to selective demand from the usual SA and Victorian buyers. Restocker and feeder orders sourced a mixture of young cattle, grown steers, plain quality Friesian steers together with 1 and 2 score beef and dairy cows.

Fluctuating prices

The varying quality yarded this week has only led to fluctuating prices from limited processor competition.

Limited numbers of vealer steers were yarded and sold to the trade from 150¢ to 214¢ at prices unchanged to 11¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers sourced C1 and C2 steers from 115¢ to 170¢, or 5¢ to 10¢/kg less. Vealer heifers sold erratically to the trade from 110¢ to 200¢, with some sales 6¢ to 22¢ dearer with C2 sales faring best.

Yearling steers sold between 150¢ and 213¢, which led to C2 and C3 sales unchanged to 8¢ dearer, with the B-muscled supplementary feds unchanged. Yearling heifer C-muscled medium and heavyweights attracted prices from 110¢ to 200¢, at prices averaging 12¢/kg more.

Grown steers and bullocks in smaller C2 and C3 runs sold from 140¢ to 185¢ to be unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 50¢ to 119¢ to be unchanged to 5¢/kg cheaper. Restockers sourced increased numbers of 1 and 2 score beef and dairy cows from 50¢ to 110¢/kg at slightly dearer levels.

Western Australia

Pastoral cattle flowing to the south on the rise

The far north of WA continues to see thunderstorm activity persist with warm temperatures remaining this week. The Pilbara and Gascoyne regions continue to see mixed seasonal conditions, while mustering activity in pastoral regions continues to increase.

This will see flows of pastoral cattle to the south increase in the short term. The southern regions saw a front bring wide spread rainfall late in the week, which has saved germinations in many areas that were beginning to struggle with the dry and warm conditions.

Falls were heaviest in western and coastal regions with the highest falls seen in the traditional cattle rearing areas of the southwest, while eastern areas recorded only minimal falls.

Supply tight

This week saw Muchea record lower numbers at its market, while the southwest sale remained limited in total, as would be expected at this time of year. The Great Southern sale rose sharply after last weeks lay off and was by far the largest of the three weekly sales.

The numbers of trade weight yearlings seen this week in physical markets remained tight, while the supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers sourced from pastoral regions remained similar and generally tight. Young store grades however, continued to dominate saleyards with solid supplies seen in the south, while cow volumes remained fair.

Demand improves

Prime trade weight yearling prices were equal to the previous week to both the local trade and retailer sectors. There was a general drop in weight in store classes with fewer heavier drafts available. Feeder and restocker demand improved throughout the classes with prices predominately 5¢/kg lwt dearer.

Heavy weight steers, bullocks and heifers all enjoyed dearer prices under increased processor competition. This was also the case in all classes of cows with an improved trade demand underpinning the rise. Also following this trend were heavy weight bull categories, while live export demand remained unchanged in lightweight bull classes.

New South Wales

Dry conditions produce larger yardings

With the working week returning to normal after the ANZAC holiday, consignments doubled at MLA NLRS markets this week. The continuing dry conditions lifted consignments at all markets with the exception of Tamworth, which remained consistent compared to the previous market.

The larger market of Dubbo resumed selling after the previous cancelled market to draw for a large offering of 5,150 cattle. Weaner sales held throughout the state this week are Inverell and Glen Innes.

Quality continues to be mixed

The majority of markets reported mixed quality offerings. Vealer supply throughout the state more than doubled as 1,931 younger steers went to restocker and feeder orders, compared to only 800 selling to the trade. The heifer portion predominately sold to butcher and trade orders.

Yearling steers also more than doubled as 80 per cent sold to the restocker and feeders, as 60 per cent of yearling heifers went to the same orders. Around 750 prime conditioned heavy weight grown steers and bullocks were offered at markets, an increase of 300 head week-on-week. Cow numbers tripled compared to the previous week with most weights and grades penned, restockers were active on selected lines.

Prices sell to a varying trend

Younger cattle again sold to a cheaper trend as medium weight vealer steers returning to the paddock lost 1¢/kg, with greater falls recorded for the heavier weights. The lighter heifer portion to the trade lost 5¢/kg as the prime conditioned vealers to the trade and butchers sold at a premium. Yearling steers and heifers to restockers and feed trended cheaper, as the heavy weights suitable for the trade and butcher orders improved 2¢ to 5¢/kg in price.

Prime conditioned heavy weight steers to slaughter sold dearer as southern orders entered the competition at most markets. Prices in places topped at 187¢ for younger pens, with the majority selling in the 165¢ to 175¢/kg range depending on finish. Cows sold to increased competition with southern orders securing numbers.

Prices on average improved 4¢ to 6¢ as the plainer 2 scores averaged 87¢/kg. The better finished 3 and 4 scores ranged from 78¢ to129¢ as cows overall averaged 94.8¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls to processors trended dearer as the best reached 168¢/kg.


Dry conditions prevail

Despite the fall in market prices supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS lifted by close to 27 per cent this week. Numbers at the Roma store sale have been above 10,000 head for two consecutive weeks as 13 shires across the state have been drought declared.

Large numbers of poor condition lightweight cattle continue to dominate markets in the north and west of the state, and as winter draws closer large numbers of calves and vealers in the south of the state are being weaned straight into the saleyards.

Buyer attendance in the young cattle sections was generally good, while export buyer activity continues to be erratic. Young cattle experienced a wide variation in price as restockers become very selective in their purchases with only top end quality lines receiving strong support.

Prices continue to lower

The better end of the calves and vealer steers returning to the paddock managed to reach 200¢ to average in the 180¢ range, while poor quality lines mostly sold around 160¢/kg. The large supply of vealer heifers saw average prices around 10¢ to 15¢ cheaper.

The largest numbers averaged 144¢ with only very selective sales to 196¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers were well supplied with a large sample averaging 172¢ and an equally large selection of D muscle lines averaged 150¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed lost a further 10¢ to average just under 160¢, while prices for a relatively small selection of heavy feeders turned around to average 4¢ better at 156¢/kg.

The standard of the yearling heifers has dropped dramatically with large numbers of D and E muscle classes included in the line-up. A few better lines managed to average 155¢ while the largest numbers were in the 120¢ to 130¢/kg range.

A small selection of bullocks averaged 153¢ and sold to 159¢/kg. Cow prices experienced mixed results with some of the plainer cows continuing to be cheaper, while prices for good heavy cows tended to turnaround, to improve by 2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 scores averaged 85¢, while good heavy cows averaged 118¢ with isolated sales to 130.2¢/kg.

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