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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

30 January 2015
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).

South Australia

Numbers decline following long weekend

SA cattle supply, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, more than halved week-to-week to 3,558 head. Only two sales took place, with Naracoorte penning 1,260 head, back 39 per cent, and Mount Gambier yarding 52 per cent fewer cattle, with 2,298 head on offer.

Mixed quality grown steers penned

Naracoorte’s sale still retained a competitive field of buyers despite the drop in the number of cattle on offer as well as a decline in quality. Restockers and feeders were very active on the back of the easing of prices. Mount Gambier presented a mixed yarding of grown steers following the drop in numbers. The lighter lines held firm whilst heavier types rose slightly, with trade buyers purchasing the majority on the day.

Prices continue to ease

Vealer steers and heifers were in limited supply, with medium weight C3 feeder vealer steers averaging 214¢, down 11¢, while heavy B3 vealer heifers lowered 7¢ to settle on 222¢/kg. Yearling steers were strong this week with medium weight steers averaging a price of 224¢, with heavy weights to processors lifting 16¢ to average on 220¢/kg. Heavy feeder heifers averaged 210¢, increasing by 3¢/kg.

Following a small yarding of grown steers, heavy C3 lines pushed up by 3¢ to settle on 221¢/kg. Grown heifers were dropped in numbers with lighter C3 types easing 5¢ to average on 202¢, their heavy counterparts lifted to average 206¢, an increase of 5¢/kg. Cow prices trended firm to easier, with C muscled pens ranging from 152¢ to 185¢ and the D muscled pens averaging from 159¢ to 186¢, up 8¢/kg.

Queensland

Supply contracts

A combination of the short working week and the return of some rain over parts of the supply area reduced overall numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 17 per cent week-on-week. Young cattle continued to dominate the selling pens, along with a relatively short supply of heavy grown steers and bullocks and a fairly large selection of cows.

All the usual feedlot buyers were present and operating along with a good panel of restockers. All exporters were in attendance, however one was not operating on cows and bullocks in some markets. Prices generally improved across most classes.

Restocker dominance remains

Restockers continued to display stronger buyer activity on light weight yearling steers and paid to 295¢, with a large sample averaging close to 270¢/kg. Medium weight C2s to feed averaged 254¢, while the better condition lines improved 6¢, to average 259¢ and made to 280.2¢, while restockers paid to 282.2¢/kg. Heavy feeders were also in demand with the largest numbers averaging 258¢, and a few pens to 280.2¢/kg.

Light weight plain condition heifers generally eased in price, however at mid-week markets restockers were very active and most sold in the early 230¢/kg range, irrespective condition and class. Buyers turned their attention towards medium weight yearling heifers to feed and generally lifted prices by 8¢, with most in the early 240¢ range, with isolated pens to 260¢/kg. Local trade lines also increased in price by 5¢, to average just under-240¢, with sales to 251.2¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers averaged 240¢ and bullocks sold to 251.2¢, to average 4¢ dearer at 243¢/kg. A pen of certified grain fed bullocks made to 275.2¢, to return $1,816/head. Plain condition cows to restockers reached 191.2¢, to average 176¢/kg. Medium weight 3 scores to processors averaged 199¢ and heavy 3 scores averaged 207¢/kg. A large sample of good heavy cows averaged 8¢ better at 224¢, with a few pens to 238.2¢/kg.

New South Wales

Cattle consignments slip

NSW cattle markets, as reported by MLA’s NLRS, more than halved week-on-week for a total of 17,669 head. This was due to the closure of the Monday markets owing to the holiday weekend. CTLX slipped 21 per cent, to yard 3,600 cattle, with Gunnedah decreasing to 2,495 head, back 43 per cent week-on-week. The Hunter markets both trended lower in number, as Scone lost 13 per cent, for a penning of 1,590, while Singleton eased 16 per cent, at 860 head. The northern sales all lost considerable numbers, with both Inverell and Armidale more than halving, while Casino slipped 9 per cent, for 2,390 cattle. Dubbo fell 39 per cent, to pen 3,600 head.

Quality on average fair to good

Quality on average over the state was fair to good, with the younger cattle mainly sold to restocker and lot feeder orders. There were 4,877 younger steers marketed, with 3,854 of the younger heifers offered, a considerable decrease on last week. Grown steers throughout all weight ranges totalled 1,660 head, as cows again made up the bulk of the grown cattle to number 2,577 head.

Prices recover losses from the previous week

Medium weight vealer steers returned to the paddock sold 7¢ dearer to average 254¢, after topping at 299¢/kg. The equivalent weighted heifer portion gained 2¢ to 4¢, with most sold around the 227¢ to 232¢, as the tops reached 247¢/kg. The medium weight yearling steers to the feeders and restockers lifted 7¢, to sell from 190¢ to 267¢, with most around the 251¢ range, as the heavier drafts lifted 4¢ to also average 251¢/kg. The yearling heifers improved 2¢ to 5¢/kg across all weight and condition ranges. Well-finished younger cattle to the trade continued the overall dearer trends to gain 5¢/kg.

Grown steers suitable for slaughter averaged 2¢ to 8¢ dearer, with the majority sold around the 225¢ to 234¢, after topping at 249¢/kg. Cows recovered the previous week’s losses and gained from 5¢ to 10¢/kg. The plainer 2 scores averaged 181¢, as the 3 and 4 scores ranged from 165¢ to 230¢, with the average sitting at 197¢ to 219¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls continue to sell at a premium, for an average of 203¢ to 234¢, with the best muscled heavy weight reaching 257¢/kg.

Victoria

Disruption to the selling week sees consignments drop

Numbers almost halved throughout Victorian selling centres, with the combined total amounting to 13,591 head, back 48 per cent week-on-week with Monday’s public holiday assisting in the large decline. Both Leongatha and Warrnambool yarded 42 per cent fewer lines totalling 2,073 and 1,574 head, respectively, while Shepparton followed a similar trend yarding 2,800 head, back 32 per cent. Large declines were also recoded at Pakenham, Camperdown and Bairnsdale with mixed interest for the lesser quality lines.

Overall quality slipped for young cattle

Quality continued to be an issue with buyers, as the majority continued to be selective, however well finished lines still received strong bidding, predominately at Wodonga and Bairnsdale. Trade cattle prices slipped in accordance with quality at Shepparton, while demand at Camperdown eased, mainly due to the large slip in numbers. There are reports of northern buyers operating throughout markets which have continued to assist in keeping prices buoyant.

Export prices remain strong

Prices tended to ease for the majority of young cattle, however export lines sold steady to slightly dearer for heavy weight lines. Well-muscled B2 vealer steers topped at 251¢ to average 235¢, back 2¢, while the better quality C3 heifers to slaughter averaged 214¢, back 5¢/kg week-on-week. Heavy weight feeder steer prices eased by 8¢, to average close to 224¢, while heavy C3 heifers to process slipped 3¢, ranging from 180¢ to 220¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers to slaughter sold steady ranging from 180¢ to 243¢, while C4 bullocks topped at 240¢ to average 220.5¢, up 2¢/kg. Heavy manufacturing D2 and 3 score dairy steers lifted 5¢ with prices ranging from 168¢ to 216¢/kg. Demand for medium weight D3 cows saw prices improve by 10¢, with most averaging close to 182¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows topped at 217¢, to average 14¢ higher week-on-week, settling close to 198¢/kg on average.

Western Australia

Dry conditions continue

Hot and dry conditions have impacted water supplies and stock condition across many areas of WA, with southern regions now feeling some pressure. Tight supply continues to be a concern with competition remaining very strong across all categories. Muchea numbers decreased following the long weekend with 2,142 head offered.

A large portion of Muchea’s yarding was pastoral heifers and cows with moderate numbers of local young cattle. Summer weaner and breeder sales continued at Mt Barker and Boyanup with trade cattle available at both southern markets. In the southern sale zones close to 3,500 young cattle suitable for feeders and restockers were available, along with 1,500 head of trade and processor drafts.

Pastoral cattle quality was very mixed with limited good young heifers and moderate numbers of steers suitable for live export and feeders. Local young cattle condition continued to slip due to hot, dry conditions but overall quality remained good. Strong processor, restocker and live export competition continued with prices mostly improving for most categories at all markets.

Prices mainly firm

Prime trade cattle prices increased marginally due to tight supply, with the vealer steers averaging 254¢/kg and vealer heifers at 234¢/kg. Yearling steers averaged close to 248¢ at Muchea with yearling heifers from 224¢ to 245¢/kg, dearer again this week.

Grown steer and heifer prices were up slightly. Pastoral grown steers made 190¢ to 244¢, with local drafts from 225¢ to 252¢/kg. Grown heifers sold to 234¢, with most from 196¢ to 231¢/kg.

Store steer prices were mixed with vealer steers between 220¢ and 272¢, the heavier drafts to feeders up 2¢/kg. Yearling steers also firmed marginally, selling between 224¢ and 262¢/kg. Reasonable supplies of local heifers were also mixed in price at both Muchea and the southern markets. Vealer heifer sales were between 200¢ to 245¢/kg, with heavier drafts to feeders up slightly but lighter drafts eased on lower quality. Yearling heifers made 195¢ to 244¢/kg, to be up marginally.

Cow prices lifted again with heavy D3 and D4 and better medium weight cows making 186¢ to 228¢, up 7¢/kg. The D2 cows were also dearer with prices between 165¢ and 222¢/kg. Light weight and plain cows sold between 120¢ and 192¢/kg. Bull prices lifted for heavy weights to processors, making 190¢ to 232¢ and lighter weight bulls to live export markets were firm, priced between 185¢ and reaching 252¢/kg for the better light bulls.

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