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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

23 August 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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


Yardings remain steady

With close to 52 per cent of the state now drought declared, numbers increased at Dalby, while supply at most other markets covered by MLA’s NLRS remained similar to the previous week’s levels. The quality of the young cattle was very mixed and included larger numbers of heifer calves and light weight yearling heifers. The standard of the export classes of heavy grown steers and bullocks was generally fair to good. Restocker buyer representation in the young cattle section at some centres was not as good as the previous week, while export buyer attendance was generally good.

Demand variable

The supply of heifer calves exceeded demand, and prices suffered accordingly. However the better end of the calves to restockers made up to 190¢, averaging 172¢, while lesser quality lines were 9¢ cheaper with most around 130¢/kg.

Good quality vealer heifers to local and southern processors continued to meet strong demand to average 163¢, with some to local butchers reaching 193¢/kg. Light weight yearling steers were well supplied and most sold to restockers at 175¢, with the very occasional sale to 208¢ and D muscle lines around 145¢/kg.

Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed generally sold to firm demand, with only small adjustments in places due to quality. Medium weights averaged in the 170¢ range, with some to 192¢, while heavy weights averaged 164¢/kg. Well-presented light weight yearling heifers averaged just under 150¢, while a drop in quality saw prices in the 120¢/kg range.

Export classes dearer

Heavy grown steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced stronger demand from processors, with average prices lifting by 3¢ to 5¢/kg and more on good quality lines. Heavy grown steers averaged 171¢ and sold to 183¢, while a good supply of bullocks averaged close to 174¢, with a few sales to 184¢/kg. The dearer trend for export categories flowed onto the cows, with medium weight 2 scores 2¢ dearer at 102¢ and some sales to 118¢/kg. A relatively small selection of good heavy cows lifted in price by 4¢ to average 131¢, with some to 146¢/kg.


Overall yardings steady

Overall Victorian yardings were close to firm week-on-week to total 8,402 head at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. Ballarat increased its throughput by 20 per cent, Camperdown was up 29 per cent, Wodonga lifted 15 per cent and numbers at Colac improved by 38 per cent, albeit off a low base. Leongatha yarded 9 per cent fewer cattle, Pakenham was down 21 per cent, while Warrnambool eased 21 per cent and Bairnsdale reported a 5 per cent decrease. Shepparton’s numbers, on the other hand, were fully firm, again penning 1,400 head.

Secondary lines continue to flow

Quality ranged from plain to good across centres this week, and most markets were generally firm to slightly dearer. Young trade cattle were limited in number at Pakenham, however quality improved week-on-week, which saw prices lift. Demand also strengthened for heavy yearling trade cattle at Leongatha. At Shepparton, Friesian steers accounted for a large percentage of the offering, however not all exporters operated this week. This was also the case at Colac, where not all the usual trade, feedlot and export buyers were in attendance or making purchases.

Quality lines dearer

The C2 medium weight vealer steers to processors sold to an average price of 197.1¢, up 10¢, while the heavy weights settled on 195.7¢ to be 1¢/kg dearer. Medium to heavy weight C2 vealer heifers to slaughter also improved in price, lifting 5¢ to 8¢, to sell at an average price of 194.3¢/kg.

Heavy weight C3 yearling steers generally made around 199.8¢, lifting 2¢, with their heifer counterparts also 2¢ dearer and returned vendors an average price of 188.2¢/kg. In the grown cattle section, medium C3 steers lifted 3¢ to 195.2¢, while the heavy weight C4 class remained firm on 192.6¢/kg. The light weight D3 heifers experienced a 2¢ improvement to make around 160.6¢/kg.

Manufacturing steers, however, slipped 3¢ this week to settle on 159.8¢/kg. Cows generally met cheaper trends, with plainer heavy dairy cows back 4¢ on 132.7¢, and good D3 beef cows eased 5¢ to 151.3¢/kg.

New South Wales

Cattle numbers lift

As some supply areas throughout the state move into dryer conditions numbers lifted by 8 per cent at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. Wagga commenced the week, yarding 7 per cent less cattle, while Forbes lifted 7 per cent in total.

Tamworth increased 32 per cent, as Gunnedah gained 38 per cent, while CTLX Carcoar penned 17 per cent more. The northern Armidale and Casino markets both eased their supplies by around 20 per cent. The Hunter markets trended differently, as Scone gained 26 per cent, while Singleton lost 16 per cent in total. As the western regions remain dry, Dubbo continues to yard large numbers for a total of 4,210 head.

Quality remained mixed

Most markets reported greater percentages of supplementary and crop finished younger and grown cattle in their number. Processor competition for the export categories decreased, as some processors were able to fill their orders earlier. Yearlings again outnumbered the vealer categories, as large percentages were sold to the trade and restocker orders. Cow categories made up the bulk of the older cattle penned, with around 2,635 yarded, an increase of 6 per cent week-on-week. Prime conditioned heavy weight grown steers on average lifted in number, with around 969 penned.

Variable market trends

Medium weight vealer steers to restockers sold close enough to firm, averaging 175¢ after reaching a top price of 207¢/kg. The same weight heifer portion to processors sold around firm, averaging 163¢/kg; however any secondary drafts suitable for restockers met limited competition. Yearling steers sold better than the heifer portion, especially plainer heifers, as the prime conditioned heavy weight yearlings suitable for butchers also slipped between 2¢ to 5¢/kg.

Heavy weight grown steers and bullocks to slaughter sold 3¢ to 4¢ cheaper, with the best reaching a top of 198¢/kg. The plainer cows sold at equal prices, as the better finished pens sold 1¢ to 2¢/kg either side of firm. The plainer 2 scores averaged 119¢, while the better covered 3 and 4 score cows ranged from 108¢ to 162¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls averaged from 149¢ to 160¢, as the best reached 187¢/kg.

South Australia 

Supply increased

Cattle supply in SA increased, with all centres offering more numbers. The general quality of yardings was average to good with more 3 score cattle supplied. Having said this, Naracoorte offered fewer numbers of very good quality supplementary fed yearlings, however there was some better quality heavy weight cows and bulls. There were increased supplies of C3 grown steers at Mount Gambier.

Buyer demand steady

There was steady competition from the usual field of processors for most categories of cattle this week. The exceptions were the dearer prices for grown steers and heifers at Mount Gambier and cheaper trends for most cattle in the smaller sale at the SA Livestock Exchange. Restockers provided only moderate competition on most yardings with producers remaining hesitant on purchasing secondary lines.

Prices show mixed trends

Light weight yearling steers to feed lowered 18¢ to average 162¢, while heavy weight categories were 2¢ lower on 186¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers were unchanged on 184¢, while heavy weights eased 1¢ to average 185¢/kg. Heavy weight grown steers to slaughter lifted 4¢ to 189¢/kg. Heavy weight C3 cows to slaughter were firm on 155¢, while D3 lines lowered 6¢ to average 144¢/kg.

Western Australia

Seasonal conditions remain good

Conditions in the southern agricultural districts of WA remain good, particularly in the south west and south east coastal areas, where winter rainfall and moderate temperature levels have promoted beneficial pasture growth. The past week has seen most areas receive little or no rainfall outside of south western and coastal areas in the south. Areas in the north continue to enjoy reasonable seasonal conditions, with mustering activity remaining steady. Live export activity remains reasonable out of northern ports, with some activity also seen in southern regions.

Southern numbers remain moderate

Pastoral supplies direct to processors in the south remain steady, while physical saleyard numbers in the three weekly sales continue to be limited. Muchea was the largest of the three sales, despite having approximately 250 head less than the previous week. The Great Southern yarding remained similar, with the southwest again the smallest.

There continued to be moderate volumes of pastoral cattle in Muchea. The supplies of local trade weight grass and grain finished yearlings remained moderate, while heavy weight steer and heifer supplies remained slightly higher than what has been seen in recent months. The number of local store yearlings was marginally lower, while cow volumes were moderate.

Demand holds steady

Demand from the local trade and retail sector was buoyant in grass finished trade weight yearling steers and heifers, with prices predominately 5¢ to 7¢/kg higher. Local store quality and weight continued to be very mixed, with demand remaining at similar levels.

Heavy weight local and pastoral steers and heifers enjoyed an increased trade demand that created dearer prices. This increased competition was also recorded throughout the cow weight and quality ranges, with all classes enjoying dearer prices. Heavy weight bull sales were also dearer under increased processor demand. Live export interest in light weight bull categories continued at similar levels.


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