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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

23 May 2014
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - The following report is a collection of market summaries from the previous week across Australia's territories from analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).


Throughput tightens

Supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service fell by 37 per cent, however the number of cows penned declined by 48 per cent, report market analysts at MLA.

Overall quality was very mixed, while there was a lift in the standard of the medium and heavy weight yearling steers in places, however lightweight, poorer quality lines dominated the selling pens.

The trend of almost no good quality heavy grown steers and bullocks available continued and there was a wide variation in the standard of cows. Export buyer attendance continues to be erratic as one buyer steps in another is absent from the buying panel. The usual feeder buyers and some restockers were present and operating in the young cattle section, while some interstate processors were absent.

Mixed trends for young cattle

Well-bred vealer steers to feed and restockers lifted in price with some to 208.2¢, while most were at 190¢/kg. Vealer heifers also experienced an improvement in price of 6¢ to 12¢, with purchases dominated by feeder buyers at 141¢ and a small selection to the trade made to 203.2¢/kg.

A large variation in the standard of the lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock resulted in average prices falling by 9¢ to 187¢, with top end quality lines to 214.2¢, while a fairly large selection of D muscle lines averaged 152¢/kg.

Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed experienced only quality related price changes, with the largest number at 172¢, with better quality lines to 182¢/kg. Heavyweights averaged 180¢ and sold to 189.2¢/kg. A very large selection of lightweight yearling heifers mostly sold in the 120¢ range and poor quality lines averaged 95¢/kg.

Cows regain some of the previous week’s losses

Most of the heavy grown steers and bullocks were in the 3 score range and averaged 154¢, with the occasional good pen reaching 175.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 4¢ dearer at 94¢, with sales to 113.2¢/kg. Good heavy cows managed to improve by 5¢ following the large decline in prices over recent weeks with a fair sample averaging 131¢, with some to 139.2¢/kg.

South Australia

Supply edges lower

Overall SA cattle supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, declined 9 per cent week-on-week, to total 2,753 head. Throughput at Mount Gambier eased a marginal 3 per cent to 787 head, while both Naracoorte and the SA Livestock Exchange lost 30 per cent, yarding 1,081 and 465 head, respectively. Millicent’s fortnightly sale operated this week and penned 420 head.

Plainer quality dampens demand

Quality was reportedly very mixed at all markets this week. The regular buyers were generally present – although one major operator’s absence was noted at the SA Livestock Exchange – however bidding was selective as a result of the overall decline in quality.

Restockers and feeders were active on the limited supply of steers at SA Livestock Exchange, while the heifers were mainly overlooked. Processor demand for cows eased at the SA Livestock Exchange and Mount Gamier this week, while at Millicent competition was strong.

Prices ease in line with quality

Medium and heavy weight C3 vealer steers to processors were 17¢ cheaper week-on-week to average 189¢, while their heifer counterparts slipped 10¢ to 20¢ and averaged 178¢/kg. Medium C2 yearling steers to feeders lifted 4¢ to 184¢, while C3’s to slaughter were 15¢ dearer to average 200¢/kg.

Heavy C2 steers to feeder and restocker orders were back 6¢ and 13¢, respectively, averaging 198¢ and 185¢/kg. Heavy C3 lines to slaughter were 4¢ lower on 188¢/kg. Processors purchased medium C3 yearling heifers at an average price of 173¢, back 5¢, while the heavy weights were firm on 186¢/kg.

Heavy C3 grown steers and bullocks were firm to slightly cheaper, topping at 210¢ and averaging 194¢/kg. Medium D2 beef cows eased 3¢ on 118¢, while good heavy C3’s averaged 5¢ lower on 138¢ and the D muscled lots were firm to 4¢ cheaper on 134¢/kg.

New South Wales

Consignments slip

With prices trending cheaper throughout the previous weekly markets, consignments eased 19 per cent week-on-week, for a total of 17,644 cattle yarded at MLA’s NLRS markets. Wagga and Forbes, along with CTLX, yarded 29 per cent less, for a total of 2,945, 1,228 and 1,890, respectively. Tamworth also slipped 29 per cent, to pen 1,446 cattle, as Goulburn defied the lower trends to increase it’s yarding by 22 per cent - albeit from a low base.

Gunnedah eased 7 per cent, for a total of 1,390 head. The Hunter markets at Scone and Singleton both penned fewer cattle, especially Scone, it fell 18 per cent, for 1,197 head offered. The northern markets of Casino, Armidale and Inverell all offered substantially fewer cattle, as Casino slipped 16 per cent, while Armidale lost 24 per cent and Inverell penned around 35 per cent less.

Dubbo also defied the average lower trend throughout the state and lifted its numbers by 8 per cent, for a total of 2,830 offered.

Quality remains mixed

Markets all reported mainly mixed quality yardings, as very few prime younger cattle were offered. Dubbo, together with CTLX reported a fair to good quality offering, an improvement in quality compared to the last market. The younger steers totalled 4,910 head, while younger heifers offered amount to 4,401 head.

Heavy weight grown steers suitable for slaughter increased to 739, as cows again made up the bulk of the grown cattle for a total of 3,687 penned.

Prices overall trended dearer

The younger medium weight vealer steers, returning to the paddock averaged 2¢/kg higher. The same weight heifer portion to the processors improved 9¢/kg, however those to restockers again found the competition weaker.

Heavy weight prime conditioned vealers to butchers reached 226¢/kg. Yearling steers to lot feeders averaged close to firm, as those to restockers again struggled in the competition. Yearling heifers to lot feeder orders again sold close to firm, however the prime yearling steers and heifers to butcher orders gained 7¢/kg, week-on-week.

Heavy weight grown steers gained 5¢ to 10¢, to top at 210¢/kg. The heifer portion recovered the previous week’s losses and lifted 11¢/kg. Cows continued the dearer trends and improved from 3¢ to 6¢/kg. The plainer 2 scores averaged 99¢, as the better covered 3 and 4 scores averaged from 116¢ to 137¢, with the best reaching 160¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls remained close to firm, as the best reached 178¢/kg.


Numbers increase despite sluggish demand

Total throughput at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS increased by 11 per cent, totalling 12,600 head, with the larger markets all recording greater numbers. Consignments at Leongatha lifted 9 per cent, totalling 2,300 head, while Wodonga jumped 20 per cent week-on-week to yard 2,600 head. Numbers at Pakenham were close to last week’s levels at 2,200 head, while Shepparton increased by 11 per cent yarding close to 2,000 head.

Quality slips at most markets

Quality varied between markets, with good lines of grown steers and bullocks offered at Leongatha, while processors remained relatively selective at Wodonga and Shepparton. Reports continue to suggest that processors are booked well in advance which has seen demand ease as well as prices for export lines.

There were fewer well finished lines at Shepparton and Pakenham and prices eased, while numbers were again subdued at Camperdown placing downward pressure on prices.

Prices trend dearer

Prices varied, however some categories sold slightly dearer after a subdued market last week. Heavy weight yearling steers to feed improved 4¢, selling from 160¢ to 199¢, while the C3 lines to processors topped at 228¢ to average 202¢/kg.

Medium yearling heifers to feed ranged from 132¢ to 170¢, back 6¢ week-on-week, while heavy D3 lines were steady, averaging 176¢/kg. The 500 to 600kg grown steers topped at 210¢, averaging 198¢, while D3 bullocks averaged 200¢/kg, unchanged on last week. Heavy D1 dairy cows ranged from 93¢ to 140¢, back on last week, while D2 and 4 score beef lines improved 3¢ on last week, averaging 135¢ and 144¢/kg, respectively.

Western Australia

Seasonal conditions remain favourable

The traditional cattle rearing areas of southern WA recorded several strong cold fronts this week that brought heavy rainfall to areas south of Perth. The heaviest falls were in western and southern parts of the great southern, with some reporting falls of 100mm in a twenty four hour period, mid-week.

This has greatly added to what has been an exceptional start to the growing season this year. Germination and pasture growth have both been aided by warm and moderate day and night time temperatures, while the heavy falls have increased dam water storage levels in many areas. Conditions in northern and eastern pastoral regions remain reasonable given the solid falls on rain seen throughout much of April and May this year.

Mixed quality evident in saleyard supplies

Physical saleyard numbers remained only moderate this week, as would be expected at this time of year. As has been the case for some time the volume of prime local steers and heifers remains in tight supply, irrespective of location and all three weekly markets.

Local store grades were also sold in only moderate supplies, with cow volumes remaining fair. Once again there were only limited numbers of pastoral cattle recorded at physical markets, with reasonable supplies having been reported forwarded to processors directly.

Demand maintains its strength

The tight supplies of prime trade and heavy weight steers and heifers, of both local and pastoral origin continued to enjoy very strong demand and competition from the processing sector. The quality and weight of local store yearlings continues to diminish, as would be expected at this time of year.

Prices were paid accordingly in both steer and heifer classes, despite demand remaining very strong from both the feeder and restocker sectors. The recent strong demand for cows of all quality and weight ranges continued this week from the processing sector, with recent strong market conditions remaining in place.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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