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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

24 January 2014
Meat & Livestock Australia

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


Supply continues to ease

Victorian cattle supply dropped 23 per cent overall week-on-week. Meat and Livestock Australia experts said this was predominately due to significant declines at Warrnambool and Wodonga.

Yardings at Shepparton eased 13 per cent , while Pakenham decreased by 32 per cent for 1,436 head penned. Colac and Bairnsdale’s supplies remained steady, while Leongatha yarded 87 per cent more cattle week-on-week. Consignments at Ballarat and Camperdown eased 43 per cent and 36 per cent , respectively.

Reduced quality weakens demand

MLA expert write: Ballarat consignments were plain to average quality, with weaker demand from most of the regular buyers. Restockers and feeders operated on plainer conditioned lines lacking the finish and quality required by the trade.

Overall quality at Pakenham was mixed with a limited number of very well-finished vealers offered. The odd pen of well-bred calves attracted higher prices. Grown steers were also of mixed quality, with strong interest from processors to secure numbers. The majority of cattle at Leongatha and Bairnsdale sold to firm prices, with the quality of young cattle very mixed.

Camperdown supplied a reduced number of cattle, mostly consisting of plainer quality pens over all grades, with the exception of some heavy weight cows and vealers which were of better quality. Trade prices saw some varying results in export lines, while cows and bulls sold at firm to slightly dearer prices. Yardings at Wodonga were generally mixed in quality, with local restockers operating across plainer lines of unfinished yearlings and vealers. Young cattle suitable for the trade were in very short supply, with vealers making up the bulk of the supplies.

Prices vary

Medium weight D3 vealer heifers were back 2¢ on 142¢, while the heavy B2 equivalents were up 6¢ ranging from 150¢ to 187¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling steers gained 8¢ to average 172¢, while heavy D3 yearling heifers sold from 124¢ to 176¢, 3¢/kg cheaper on last week. Heavy C3 grown steers gained 9¢ on 168¢, selling from 135¢ to 183¢, while the bullock weight C4 equivalents remained firm on 156¢/kg. Large supplies of heavy D4 cows were back 2¢ on 121¢, ranging from 110¢ to 136¢/kg.


Lower prices deter supplies

Numbers lifted at markets early in the week however, despite the continuing dry weather, as the week progressed the lower prices experienced the previous week deterred produces from yarding stock. Mid-week at Dalby saw numbers ease 26 per cent as some produces who had ability to hold stock took a wait-and-see approach in response to the much lower prices. The seasonal conditions were reflected in the overall standard, with the vast majority of the young cattle suited to feeder operators or restockers. The supply of heavy grown steers and bullocks remains relatively low, while the good number of cows contained a wide variation in quality. Buyer representation was generally good, however most were operating at reduced prices.

Prices decrease

The occasional vealer steer sold to butchers at 201¢, while most went to feed at 156¢/kg. Vealer heifers failed to attract much competition and averaged 18¢ less at 133¢, while a limited number to the butcher trade made to 178¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers continued to lose ground in price by 13¢, with the large supply averaging 158¢/kg. Feeder cattle prices tended to struggle as feedlot space is scarce and, in turn, prices struggled with losses of 8¢ to 15¢/kg. Medium weight C2s averaged 155¢ and the better C3s averaged 165¢ with sales to 180¢/kg. Heavy weights mostly sold in the 160¢ range, with some well-bred lines to 178¢/kg. The best of the lightweight yearling heifers to feed and restockers averaged in the mid-120¢ range, while D muscle lines were in the largest numbers and averaged 110¢/kg.

A small sample of heavy grown steers averaged 18¢ less at 161¢, with the occasional pen reaching 178¢/kg. The older and plain condition bullocks were at the bottom of the price range, as buyers displayed more interest on the milk and two tooth lines, with sales from 143¢ to 177¢kg. The supply of cows outweighed demand and prices eased by 10¢ and up to 30¢/kg in places. Good heavy cows made to a top of 144¢, to average 126¢/kg.

New South Wales

Consignments slip

With useful rain forecast around the state, combined with cheaper prices, numbers slipped considerably at the majority of MLA’s NLRS reported markets, with overall consignments easing 38 per cent week-on-week. Extreme heat conditions, along with fires, caused Wagga to lose 43 per cent in total. Useful storms around the Forbes supply area, eased their numbers by two thirds, as Tamworth defied the trend and lifted 26 per cent , week-on-week. CTLX Carcoar dropped 15 per cent , however still yarded 3,250 head. Gunnedah nearly halved their numbers, for only 2,300 penned. The Hunter markets saw little change, with both trending marginally lower. The northern sale at Armidale more than halved their consignments, as Casino penned 65 per cent fewer cattle. Dubbo yarded its smallest offering for some time, with around 950 cattle penned.

Quality remains mixed

On average, markets reported mainly mixed quality offerings, with well finished younger cattle suitable for the trade scarce in the pens. Yearling steers dropped 34 per cent in number for 4,218 offered, with the majority selling to restocker and lot feeder orders. Yearling heifers again mainly went to feeder and restocker orders, however greater percentages were suitable for the butchers compared to the steer portion. Heavy grown steers suitable for slaughter nearly halved week-on-week, as cow numbers slipped 36 per cent for a penning of 4,297 head. Restockers showed interest in the plainer lightweight cows, securing numbers at cheaper prices.

Cheaper trends continue

The lower numbers failed to halt the cheaper trends attained at most markets, however some sales saw younger cattle dearer due to increased restocker activity. The 200kg plus vealer steers and heifers to restockers and processors trended cheaper by 3¢ to 8¢/kg. Yearling steers to feeders averaged 4¢/kg cheaper, as prices for the medium weights ranged from 119¢ to 177¢/kg. Yearling heifers trended cheaper by 3¢ to 4¢/kg. Medium weights to lot feeders averaged 132¢, while the prime conditioned heavy weights to the butchers ranged from 102¢ to 193¢, with most sales falling around the 140¢/kg range.

Export weight grown steers slipped another 3¢ to 5¢, as the heifer portion also lost 2¢/kg in price. Cows again failed to attract decent processor competition, with slaughter works filled to capacity. The plainer D2 cows sold 14¢ cheaper, to average 74¢/kg. The better finished 3 and 4 scores also trended cheaper, with most sales around the 105¢ to 112¢/kg range. The better muscled heavy weight bulls sold firm to 4¢/kg cheaper.

South Australia

Supply lifts

SA cattle consignments, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, increased by 54 per cent , with Millicent yarding 648 head and supply at Mount Gambier lifting by 60 per cent week-on-week. Naracoorte consignments were steady on last week penning 1,320 head, while the SA Livestock Exchange yarded increased numbers at 203 head.

Quality remains mixed

Cattle supplies at the SA Livestock Exchange were generally of average quality and sold to erratic competition from a small group of trade and processor buyers, with feeders and restockers prominent on well-bred young steers and heifers. Naracoorte yarded mostly average quality cattle, with restockers and feeders active but purchased their young cattle replacements at cheaper levels than the previous week.

Overall quality was generally good at Mount Gambier, where processors bid steadily on better quality grown steers, cows and bulls. Vealers and yearlings failed to attract competitive bidders and prices ease among these categories. Consignments at Millicent were very mixed and prices continued on recent easing trends. Restockers were the predominate competitors, using the cheaper market as an opportunity to purchase cattle to feed on. Cows were in very limited supply and processor demand was weak.

Prices weaken

Heavy B3 vealer steers slipped 2¢ on 180¢, while the C3 equivalents were back 12¢ and averaged 161¢/kg. Medium weight C3 vealer heifers sold 9¢ easier, ranging from 128¢ to 180¢, while the heavy weights were in good supply to average 149¢, back 9¢/kg on last week. Heavy C3 yearling steers dropped 2¢ on 157¢, while heavy C3 yearling heifers slipped 7¢ and averaged 139¢/kg. Heavy grown steers lifted 3¢ selling from 145¢ to 178¢, while heavy D3 beef cows gained 2¢ and averaged 121¢/kg.

Western Australia

Supply firm

WA cattle supply was similar week-on-week, yarding a total of 4,654 head. Great Southern consignments were 6 per cent lower, while Muchea penned 12 per cent more cattle compared to last week. Strong competition last week coupled with hot and dry conditions encouraged turnoff.

Quality presents some excellent lines

Great Southern market saw come excellent quality consignments of young cattle, while good numbers of heavy weights suitable for trade were also available. The hot, dry conditions and strong competition presented larger supplies of good quality drafts at Muchea this week. All the usual buyers and processors were active on young cattle and prices were competitive, while live exporters were selective on suitable drafts.

Prices back week-on-week

Medium weight C2 vealer steers eased 4¢ on 208¢, while heavy weight C2 vealer steers to feed gained 2¢ and averaged 198¢/kg. The equivalent C3 vealer steers lifted 3¢, ranging from 189¢ to 201¢, while medium C2 vealer heifers eased 1¢ on 191¢/kg. Heavy weight vealer heifers jumped 21¢ and sold between 178¢ and 198¢, to average 190¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed were 5¢ cheaper on 191¢, while the yearling heifer portion was 7¢ cheaper on 176¢/kg.

Heavy weight grown steers to feed averaged 177¢, while bullocks to slaughter eased 2¢ to 165¢/kg. Heavy weight D3 cows to slaughter were mostly firm on 138¢, while the D4 portion averaged 140¢/kg.

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