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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

29 November 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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


Numbers retreat at large selling centres

Consignments through Victoria declined at the majority of markets reported by MLA’s NLRS, easing by 5 per cent as the larger selling centres offered fewer cattle. Bairnsdale yarded fewer export lines to be back 32 per cent , while Leongatha saw less grown steers and bullocks offered to yard 22 per cent more cattle.

Wodonga yarded less young cattle while Shepparton had fewer grown cattle penned week-on-week, totalling 5,800head and 2,800 head, respectively. Pakenham, Ballarat and Colac defied the trend an increased their numbers, however failed to lift overall consignments.

Quality remains mixed

Cattle quality varied this week, predominately through the grown cattle section, although the good quality vealer steers and heifers through Warrnambool, Shepparton, and Colac sold dearer. Northern buyers were operating at both Wodonga sales and Shepparton, assisting in price improvements, while not all operated at Ballarat. Secondary lines of yearling steers and heifers sold well to increased competition at Ballarat.

Increased competition lifts prices

Good quality B muscle vealer steers to slaughter improved 2¢, ranging from 172¢ to 210¢, while the heifer equivalents sold from 162¢ to 196¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed averaged 169¢, up 5¢, while C3 lines to process sold from 144¢to 205¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed jumped 15¢ to average 156¢, while heavy C3 lines to slaughter were relatively unchanged, selling from 134¢ to 200¢/kg.

The 500kg to 600kg grown steers generally sold from 141¢ to 186¢, while C4 bullocks topped at 189¢ to settle on 175¢/kg. Light D3 heifers to process lifted 8¢ week-on-week averaging 151¢, while heavy weights averaged 148¢, unchanged on last week.

Heavy manufacturing steers sold from 141¢to 176¢ for beef lines and 130¢ to 164¢/kg for dairy cattle. Medium D1 and 2 score dairy cows were firm to slightly dearer, averaging 110¢ and 121¢, respectively. Heavy D3 and 4 score beef lines ranged from 118¢to 159¢, up 4¢/kg week-on-week.


Rain boosts restocker activity

Rainfall continues to be very light and patchy across most of the supply area in the southern half of the state. The number of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS lifted by 17 per cent week-on-week, with the supply at the Roma store sale almost doubling on the previous week’s level.

Young cattle continued to dominate the selling pens, with supply increasing to 65 per cent of total cattle yarded. Buyer attendance was generally good and all export processors, as well as trade and feeder operators, were active. Some export processors provided additional support on slaughter lines of yearling steers and heifers.

Rainfall in several supply areas around Roma dramatically increased restocker activity, however at markets in the eastern half of the state restockers remained very cautious, especially on lightweight yearling heifers.

Yearling prices jump

A fairly large sample of lightweight yearling steers to restockers improved in price by 14¢ to average 202¢, while D muscle lines to feed and restockers mostly sold from 144¢ to 162¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed experienced stronger buying competition, with the C2s averaging 184¢ and the better C3s around 190¢, with some to 201¢/kg.

Feeder operators also displayed an urgency to secure heavyweights, with one consignment reaching 201¢ and a large number averaging 189¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling heifers were well supplied and the better lines averaged in the mid to high 150¢/kg range. Medium weights to the trade averaged 7¢ dearer at 177¢ and sold to 195¢, while certified grainfed lines experienced very strong competition to average 201¢, with sales to 210.2¢/kg.

Good quality bullocks sell dearer

Heavy grown steers and bullocks to export slaughter averaged 2¢ to 4¢/kg dearer, with heavy grown steers reaching 206¢ to average 193¢/kg. Bullocks made to 200¢, with most averaging 190¢/kg. All classes of cows were in demand and average prices improved by a further 3¢ to 6¢/kg.

Lightweight plain condition cows averaged 98¢, while medium weights averaged 111¢/kg. The medium weight 2 and 3 scores averaged 122c and 137¢/kg, respectively. A fair sample of good heavy cows made to 169¢ to average 158¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers ease

Total SA throughput, as reported by MLA’s NLRS, eased 23 per cent week-on-week to total 4,209 head. Mount Gambier saw its numbers decline by 27 per cent , with yardings at Naracoorte also back 16 per cent . Only the SA Livestock Exchange defied the trend , penning 71 per cent more cattle to total 610 head.

Mount Gambier yards quality lines

There were several pens of light weight pastoral yearlings penned at the SA Livestock Exchange this week, and these sold to erratic competition. Vealers and yearling heifers were in good supply at Mount Gambier; however there were fewer yearling steers penned week-on-week. Millicent consigned some outstanding heavy weight vealers and restocker buyers were active on light weight cattle.

At Naracoorte both quality and average prices were similar to those of the previous sale, with the exception of the plainer and leaner end of the C muscled vealers and D muscled yearling heifers which both met slightly dearer trends. Quality at Mount Gambier was generally very good for its first split sale, with restocker and feeder buyers bidding strongly on suitable lines.

Prices vary

Heavy weight C3 vealer steers to slaughter averaged 197¢, up 2¢, while their heifer counterparts were back 3¢ to settle on 171¢/kg. Light weight C2 pastoral yearling steers slipped 23¢ to average 135¢/kg. Heavy C3 lines to feeder buyers averaged 172¢, with those to processors selling around 176¢/kg to be close to firm week-on-week. In the yearling heifer category, medium weight C3’s to slaughter eased 2¢ to 241¢, while heavy weights lifted 3¢ to average 165¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks were well represented, with heavy C3 steers unchanged on 172¢ and bullocks slipped 4¢ to 171¢/kg. Medium D3 beef cows were back 3¢ to 128¢/kg. Light weight C1 pastoral bulls averaged 157¢, while the 2 scores settled on 178¢/kg.

Western Australia

Lift in saleyard volumes

Hot conditions remain in the far north of WA with the “wet” yet to really start, despite some wide spread thunderstorm activity. Mustering activity still continues in parts of the Pilbara, with most now centred on the Murchison region where conditions continue to remain very dry.

Conditions in the southern Ag districts have remained mild and fine and this has greatly aided harvesting activity, with many in the northern and south eastern areas having now finished. Hay production has now also been completed.

The spring turn off of cattle is now in full swing. Processors continue to report good booking levels direct to works, while physical markets saw increased numbers at all three weekly sales.

The south-west conducted its first weekly weaner sales this week with the Great Southern following on next week with the first of the two day sales for this year. Muchea continued to have very good supplies of pastoral cattle, while all three markets recorded increased numbers of vealers and grass finished trade steers and heifers. Cow volumes were higher also, with very good numbers of pastoral bulls available.

Restockers and processors remain selective

Demand from the trade for the larger numbers of trade weight grass finished yearlings eased, with marginally lower prices recorded. Heavy weight steer sales remained reasonably similar, as were heavy weight grown heifer sales.

The increased supplies of new season calves remained of a solid weight and quality – evidence of this year’s adequate feed levels. Feeder demand was more selective outside of heavy weight categories. Medium weight vealer steers and heifers both recorded weaker feeder and restocker demand, with lightweight numbers tighter this week.

The cow market remained competitive, with little or no change in demand or price levels, while demand for heavy weight bulls was weaker and very conservative from the processing sector. The large numbers of lightweight pastoral bulls again sold to a selective live export and export feeder interest.

New South Wales

Consignments increase

As the dry conditions continue to spread throughout the state, especially around the western regions, overall cattle numbers lifted 12 per cent week-on-week. Wagga maintained consistent numbers, as Forbes gained 27 per cent in total.

Gunnedah lifted 25 per cent , as increased percentages of western cattle were sourced. CTLX Carcoar defied the trend and slipped 7 per cent , while the three northern markets lifted their consignments from 16 per cent to 39 per cent in total.

Follow up rainfall throughout the Hunter region kept their numbers low, as Tamworth also trended lower to yard 1,138 head. All the pens were again full at Dubbo, as another record yarding of 8,500 head, with large numbers again originating from the dry western regions.

Quality remained fair to mixed

Markets again reported quality mixed, however Gunnedah penned their best quality offering for some time. Prime conditioned cattle continue to be offered throughout most markets. Yearling steers were again well represented, as close to 7,000 were sold, the majority to lot feeder and restocker orders.

Over 6,000 yearling heifers were presented, with most weights and grades represented. Heavy weight grown steers remained consistent, as numbers were similar week-on-week, with over 2,000 penned. Cow numbers slipped marginally for a total of 5,006 head penned.

Prices continue to improve

The lighter end of the vealer steers and heifers gained from 7¢ to 8¢/kg, as the restockers competed with the processors to secure numbers. Yearling steers and heifers also sold to strong competition, as dearer trends were evident throughout both categories.

Grown steers to slaughter improved 2¢ to 4¢ and ranged from 155¢ to 198¢/kg, depending on finish and age. The C3 older heifers continue to improve week-on-week, as prices lifted another 5¢ to top at 180¢/kg.

Cows were sought after by the processors and gained 2¢ to 5¢, on average, as the plainer 2 scores mainly sold from 117¢ to 130¢/kg, depending on weight. The better finished 3 and 4 score cows ranged from 115¢ to 164¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls averaged 6¢ dearer, as the best reached 186¢/kg.

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