Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 22 February 2008
clock icon 13 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Western Australia

Cyclone brings wide spread rain

With a cyclone having passed southward heavy rainfall has been recorded in much of the northwest of the State. Having crossed the coast the cyclone weakened into a rain bearing depression and brought welcome rainfall to parts of the Midwest northern and eastern wheatbelt with reasonably substantial falls received. This rainfall is also expected to make its way throughout much of the Goldfields as it tracks southward.

For many areas in the Agricultural districts conditions have remained fine and dry with diminished and diminishing water levels continuing to force producers to cart water. Temperatures have however fallen to mild levels in comparison to the very hot conditions experienced over much of summer this year. Supplementary feeding continues to increase as the majority of stubble and pastures are nearly depletion.

A combination of low water and feed levels continues to force producers to sell surplus sheep and this situation is being further exacerbated by ever rising grain price forecasts, which wool and lamb profitability levels cannot compete against.

Saleyard numbers remained solid despite slight falls at both markets, while processors continue to report solid numbers being forwarded direct to works. Ewe mutton supplies were lower but remained the largest class sold. Crossbred lamb volumes were also more constricted, while the supplies of both store wether and ewe hoggets remained solid.

Quality throughout both yarding continued to slip with lower weights and conditions scores recorded which is indicative of the current seasonal conditions.

Lower demand for crossbred lambs

The lower supplies of crossbred lambs were of a generally plain quality and lightweight with most being sold as stores, while the volumes of prime finished lambs constricted and accounting for only a very limited percentage of either yarding. Despite the very restricted numbers of prime heavy and trade weight lambs trade competition fell away sharply with average rates once again falling below the 300¢/kg cwt level. There was a reasonable frame evident in store crossbred lambs and these again firm rates under aggressive demand from the local trade and feeder sectors. Medium and smaller framed rafts also enjoyed slightly dearer rates with one sale enjoying selective live export competition.

The solid supplies of ewe hoggets met limited local trade competition, while lightweight plain and poor drafts continued to struggle for interest selling between $2 to $10/head. A lighter weight and plainer conditioned ewe mutton yarding failed to deter solid competition that again included one eastern states processor order with the market fully firm to the previous week. Finished medium and heavy weight wethers were in limited number and again received strong competition from the live export sector.

South Australia

Yardings decrease

After the large sell off of cattle the previous week, the regular buying contingents were met with smaller yardings at SA LE, while at Naracoorte a large decrease of was recorded, and included some 50% less cows than the previous week. Mt. Gambier for its first combined Wednesday sale since December last year had 2,377 head, with agents now deciding to split sales again for a couple of weeks. Once again export cattle on Monday’s and the young cattle on Wednesdays. Millicent agents yarding also fell.

With numbers seemingly starting to dry up in Victoria it was interesting to note the presence of a couple of additional buyers at Naracoorte, together with an Adelaide Hills wholesaler who made their intentions clear at Millicent the previous Thursday for any prime lighter weighted vealers. A Victorian operator returned to the fold at SA LE after a lengthy break, which eventually led to a dearer trend materialising. Even though overall quality has remained quite mixed there was stronger trade and processor competition on just about all categories with supplementary fed yearlings high on the pecking order.

With processors showing more interest than normal, feeder and restocker orders struggled to build large lines, which was also due to the varying quality and small lines offered. However, at the SA LE most yearlings were in predominantly store condition that sold mainly to feeder inquiry. Strong Victorian and one SA processor inquiry lifted cow sales over the 140c/kg lwt mark.

Most categories dearer

It was a week where rises outnumbered falls as processors lifted their intensity to secure supplies as cattle numbers tighten in the South East and Victoria. While most vealer steers finished feeder, restocker and backgrounding orders, the trade sourced more numbers than usual as most prices ranged between 156¢ and 185¢, with isolated sales to 198¢ at rates 1¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifer sales followed suit as the trade sourced the greatest percentage between 155¢ and 176.5¢ with selected sales to 208¢, or generally 1¢ to 13¢/kg dearer. Yearling sales were interesting with very little price disparity between the steers and heifers. The steers sold mainly between 155¢ and 175¢ to the trade, with feeders paying up to 187¢/kg at the SA LE, while the heifer portion sold from 145¢ and 175¢, as the majority of sales on both categories ranged between 3¢ and 11¢/kg higher.

Strong wholesale and processor competition lifted grown steers and bullock prices to dearer levels as most sales ranged between 154¢ and 170¢, and carcase weight prices rose above 295¢/kg. Cow prices continued to improve in the South East with many sales rising above 140¢ and carcase weight prices over 285¢/kg.

New South Wales

Supply levels typical

Throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards is typical for this time of year and similar overall to last week’s levels. There have been some changes from centre to centre with the most significant at Bathurst, where numbers more than halved and at Wagga, where supply fell almost 25%. There were reasonable increases in numbers at Armidale, Dubbo and Gunnedah, with all other centres penning similar numbers. During the same week last year there were 10% more numbers in the saleyards. Interestingly, only Armidale, Inverell and Casino in the north east of the state had lower numbers at the same time last year, with the season in that area fairing far better than the rest of the state.

Additionally, Wagga and the Hunter Valley, where the season has recently improved, are penning much tighter yardings compared to the same time last year when they were close to the worst effected regions in the state. Numbers both north and south of the border have also been considerably lower, with Queensland’s wet weather and tighter available supplies in the south as well as store sales influencing prime market yardings.

Quality was mixed throughout the south and central regions, with the Hunter Valley standing out with plentiful top quality lines offered. Scone and Singleton sold to very strong demand from both restockers and the processing sector. Restockers chased any of the unfinished lines whilst lotfeeders also stepped in to create a floor in the market and push processor rates higher on the better finished lines. In the north, producers continue to offload higher yielding lines fitting specifications.

Mixed prices

Prices were fairly mixed across the state. Restockers purchased medium weight C2 vealer steers at rates up to 6¢ dearer, averaging 216¢/kg. Vealer heifers were mainly purchased for slaughter at reduced rates from last week. Medium weight C2 ranged from 170¢ to 226¢, while C3 heavyweights ranged from 165¢ to 215¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers lifted 3¢ to restockers, averaging 194¢, while the medium weights lifted 3¢ to average 193¢/kg. Lotfeeders purchased C2s at firm rates, ranging from 165¢ to 197¢, while the C3 medium weights to lot feeders lost 4¢, ranging from 175¢ to 196¢/kg. Heavyweight yearling steers to lot feeders met slightly reduced rates, as C3s averaged 182¢/kg. Restockers purchased lightweight yearling heifers ranging from 155¢ to 204¢ to be 6¢/kg dearer. Medium weight C3s to slaughter lifted 3¢ to average 176¢, while heavyweight C3s to slaughter increased 6¢, averaging 173¢/kg.

Grown cattle prices were also mixed. Medium weight C3s lost 2¢ to lot feeders to average 176¢, while heavyweights lifted 6¢ to processors to average 171¢/kg. Grown heifers sold at firm to dearer rates. A large number of C3 lightweight gained 5¢ to range from 139¢ to 188¢/kg. Cows remained fairly stable to processors compared with last week.


Supply continues to climb

Cattle supply across the state continues to increase on a weekly basis, with physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS recording a lift of just under 40%. Overall quality was generally good with most categories responding quickly to the improvements in the season.

Cows continued to dominate the selling pens in the export sections with the largest numbers in the 3 and 4 score ranges. The trend experienced the previous week of good samples of heavy bullocks continued, and this was most noticeable at Dalby. The larger numbers penned more than adequately met demand, and losses of 2¢ to 5¢/kg were experienced across most export grades.

Young cattle managed to escape any large price reductions however some categories did struggle at times to maintain the previous week’s rates. Feeder classes overall remained fairly stable, nevertheless the consistently ample numbers available allowed buyers to be selective, with only top end quality lines attracting a premium. Overall heavy grades of local trade yearlings remained firm to 2¢/kg cheaper. However by midweek wholesaler and supermarket competition was not a strong as previous sales and the heifer portion lost 4¢/kg.

Dry weather has started to get the sorghum harvest underway in earnest. This year’s sorghum crop is reported within the market as being in the order of between 2.3mm to 2.5mm, and if this is the case then it would be one of the biggest sorghum crops in Australia. This will pan out over the next couple of months and if this is the case the market will look at some sorghum exports.

Export grades cheaper

Slaughter grades of calves lost ground however most sold close to 204¢, with the occasional sale to 228¢/kg. Well bred calves returning to the paddock made to a top of 249.2¢, to average 213¢/kg. Vealer steers to the trade generally sold at 199¢ with a few to 208.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers lost 1¢ to average 196¢, with sales to 205¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed fell 6¢, to average 186¢/kg. However medium and heavyweight classes remained very solid to average 188¢, and 191¢/kg respectively. Lightweight yearling heifers to the trade lost 3¢ to average 181¢, while restocker classes improved 4¢ to average 183¢ with sales to 199.2¢/kg. Medium weight slaughter lines eased by 4¢ to average 180¢, and heavy classes sold to 204.6¢ to average 187¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed made from 165¢ to 190¢ with most close to firm at 181¢/kg. Heavy steers destined for export slaughter averaged 3¢ less at 172¢, and the bullock portion sold to 182.2¢ with most 3¢ cheaper at 173¢/kg. A good sample of medium weight score 3 cows averaged 2¢ less at 129¢/kg. However the largest numbers were in the score 4 ranges and sold from 129.2¢ to 148.2¢ to average 3¢ less at 138¢/kg.

Western Australia

Cyclone bring rain

The “wet” continues in the far north of the state with the Kimberley again enjoying reasonable rain. A cyclone that past down the coast brought heavy rainfall to much of the Pilbara, Gascoyne and Murchison regions with some flooding also recorded. As the cyclone crossed the coast it deteriorated into a heavy rain bearing depression that travelled through much of the Midwest and northern and eastern wheatbelt with good falls also received. There is further rainfall activity expected throughout much of the southeast and Goldfields districts. The southwest corner of the State however enjoyed a week of fie and dry conditions with temperatures well below those received throughout summer this year.

Early calving has begun and supplementary feeding is on the increase. With the hot conditions experienced in the north, much of the live exports of cattle have been from the southern ports of Geraldton and Fremantle. Cattle numbers eased marginally this week with uncertainty still remaining as to how long the two-day sales will continue in the Great Southern with vealer numbers remaining large enough to continue this fixture.

As has been the case over the past month all three reported sales have been generally made up of young store cattle, vealers and cows. The supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers remained tight with reasonably limited supplies also of trade weight yearling steers and heifers. With the tightening supplies of finished cattle experienced recently trade competition continued to firm, while the feeder sector was again recorded at higher levels in vealer and store classes.

Store cows in demand

Vealer numbers remained very solid at all three saleyards. Despite there being a reasonable supply of heavy weight vealers offered they continue to decline in number. Condition and weight also continue to wane with larger supplies of store and lightweight vealers forwarded into the market. Heavy weight vealer steers and heifers both enjoyed an increase in feeder and local trade competition alike and this caused prices to lift a further 4¢/kg to 8¢/kg lwt. This stronger competition flowed into medium and lightweight vealers with the latter seeing the strongest results this season. The limited supplies of grass finished trade weight yearling steers and heifers both received increased trade demand and finished 5¢/kg dearer.

There was a reasonable quality evident in heavy weight steer and bullock classes. Bullocks rates rose 5¢/kg under a stronger competition with heavy weight steers marginally dearer also. The heavy weight cow market continued its steady price rise after improving 2¢ to 3¢/kg with most sales around 102¢/kg lwt. Store cows received considerably stronger restocker demand, rising as much as 15¢/kg.


Slightly reduced yardings

Market trends were all dearer with the supply of cattle decreasing at sales reported by MLA’s NLRS. There was only a slight reduction to throughput with markets early in the week offering equal to fewer cattle, but Warrnambool, Colac and Bairnsdale markets middle to late in the week, offered processors slight through to quite large increases.

While the quality varied across the board, most centres offered reasonable to good quality offerings with southern markets including some top quality vealers. It would appear that numerous producers have been waiting for prices to lift as there were quite a number of heavy and well finished heavy yearlings, grown steers and cows penned.

Depending on which market you were at, price increases were quite varied. Larger yardings, and those offering very good to top quality received some of the biggest changes with vealer and yearling prices quoted between 10¢ and 20¢/kg higher.

Bullocks and cows all sold very well, to be 3¢ and 12¢/kg dearer with competition and distances from the abattoirs affecting the outcome at times. As far as grown cattle are concerned, the rising value of the $A, which affects the returns for export processors has had limited affect on demand, in fact it was a lot stronger. Some abattoirs are struggling to fill their weekly kill sheets, and we once again get to the stage where processors have to consider which is the greater impost on their bottom line.

Cow prices jump

Some of the larger increases have been for the offerings of B muscle vealers, and surprisingly some of the supplementary fed yearlings, but also bullocks and cows. Later in the week it made little difference of weight and shape with D muscle heifers lifting as much as 20¢/kg. The best quality B muscle cattle made anywhere between 180¢ and 225¢/kg. Most of the C muscle cattle ranged from 168¢ to 208¢/kg, and the D muscle cattle sold from 155¢ to 175¢/kg. The EYCI followed the dearer trend to be 5¢ high than last week when it finished Thursday on 346.5¢/kg cwt.

More prime bullocks and lightweight grown steers came on the market, and a lot weighed from 560kg to 780kg lwt. However, demand was very strong, which saw C3 and C4 grades make from 152¢ to 189¢ for those weighing up to 600kg, while bullocks made between 155¢ and 180¢/kg. Cow prices have escalated rather dramatically, particularly later in the week, which created a carcass weight price averaging 270¢/kg. Later markets averaged higher with some cows making up to 300¢/kg cwt. Better quality beef cows made from 128¢ to 153¢, while plainer grades made from 105¢ to 133¢/kg.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2023 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.