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 29 February 2008
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

South Australia

Changes to accreditation

A reminder to all cattle producers – “that from March 1st, all red meat producers using LPA NVD’s must be fully accredited on the LPA database. Provisional accreditation will cease and NVD’s from provisionally accredited properties will not be valid”. The main reason for this is that all stock sold through the saleyards will need full LPA documentation, or buyers may not bid on them.

Sales this week kicked off with Mt. Gambier splitting theirs for a couple of more weeks with 1,249 export cattle yarded that sold to strong wholesale and processor competition. There were some excellent returns for grown steers with many sales in excess of $1,100/head for heavy steers and bullocks. Cows sold to solid competition with most carcase weight prices rising above 280c/kg. This was far in excess of the 230c to 250c/kg for D3 and D4 sales being achieved at the SA LE. At the SA LE some 1,500 head or 400 more cattle were offered, including around 316 cows. These sold to erratic competition from the usual processors, feeders, wholesalers and local butchers.

Overall quality has been very mixed with Naracoorte numbers increasing by 780 head to 2,373. Comparatively, Mt. Gambier had 1,463 young cattle. Millicent penned 795 head in a similar numbered yarding. The increased numbers at Millicent was probably due to the much improved prices that have been paid over the past fortnight. However, even with the increased numbers trade and processor prices were generally dearer, while feeder and restocker rates tended to fluctuate.

Fluctuating priced sales

The varying quality offered only led to a fluctuating priced sale week where it was quite hard to put prices on similar quality pens. Most vealer steers finished with feeder and restocker orders between 150¢ and 175¢ or ranging 1¢ to 5¢/kg either side of unchanged. Trade purchases were generally dearer, with their purchases from 165¢ to 210¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales ranged from 2¢ to 17¢ dearer, down to 3¢ to 8¢/kg less to a wide range of orders that led to most heifers selling between 142¢ and 182¢, with isolated sales to 206¢/kg. Yearling steers sold between 140¢ and 180¢, as most sales ranged 1¢ to 3¢/head either side of unchanged with the trade sourcing the greatest percentage. Yearling heifers sold a wide range of orders between 125¢ and 177¢/kg due to the varying quality offered. This led to prices fluctuating 2¢ to 6¢/kg either side of unchanged. Grown steer prices and quality improved with heavyweights achieving the highest gains, as C3 and C4 sales ranged between 145¢ and 170¢/kg or from 280¢ to 310¢/kg cwt. Cow prices were generally dearer at rates 1¢ to 6¢ higher and mainly between 118¢ and 147¢/kg for the 3 to 5 scores.

New South Wales

Throughput increases

Numbers increased 15% at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards from last week’s levels. This remains on par with the same time in previous years. The main alterations occurred at Casino, where yardings increased 17% to the largest volume penned in quite some time. The extra numbers at Casino were mainly in the young cattle section. Many producers on the North Coast are opting to sell off younger cattle at lighter weights whist they are still in top condition. The rapid pasture growth is, in places, lacking substance with the grass very slushy, resulting in the milk production levels of cows slipping which affects protein levels. In the New England and North West demand remains strong for all buying sectors, with cows holding up surprisingly well given the value of the A$ is at a 23 year high. Inverell and Tamworth penned higher numbers and Gunnedah and Armidale had smaller pennings. In the Hunter Valley, the recent frantic competition was not repeated and despite tighter yardings at Singleton demand was weaker across all grades. Quality remains good and all buyers are active, in particular processor orders.

In the Central West, seasonal conditions are again drying off following some rare warmer days. Stock quality has been good at all centres and buyer demand was solid. Purchases by restocker included a large restocking order of young heifers at Bathurst selling to the Walgett region. Vealers were scarce at Bathurst and Dubbo while there were a few more secondary lines than in previous weeks at Forbes. At Wagga, a much larger penning than the same time last year sold to steady demand and firm prices.

Cows remain firm

Large number of vealer steers sold to restockers at cheaper prices. The C2 lightweights lost 3¢, averaging 214¢, while medium weight C2s lost 12¢, averaging 204¢/kg. Vealer heifers prices also reduced compared with last week highs. The C2 medium weights lost 14¢ to range from 150¢ to 213¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers to lot feeders remained steady averaging 181¢/kg, while those to restockers lost 5¢, averaging 187¢/kg. Heavyweight C3s to lot feeders and the slaughter lost 5¢ to both average 177¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling heifers dropped 5¢ to lot feeders, averaging 166¢, while those returning to the paddock lost 8¢, averaging 174¢/kg. Processors reduced rates on medium weight C3s by 7¢ to range from 155¢ to 205¢, while the heavyweights ranged from 151¢ to 188¢, a loss of 3¢/kg.

Grown steers to processors remained fairly stable. Heavyweight C3s averaged 170¢ and ranged from 152¢ to 187¢/kg. C4 bullocks ranged from 152¢ to 186¢ and averaged 170¢, a 2¢/kg fall. Grown heifers to slaughter decreased 4¢ and ranged from 130¢ to 184¢/kg. Cow prices were stable with medium weight D3s to slaughter ranging from 110¢ to 137¢ to average 127¢/kg. Heavyweight D4s to slaughter ranged from 125¢ to 146¢ to average 133¢/kg.


Numbers up

As expected, the large increase in prices realised in recent weeks, assisted in an 18% lift in the supply of cattle seen at MLA’s NLRS markets. A lot of the increase in was in the grown steer and bullock sales with a 25% jump in supply. Also offered in larger numbers were cows after some very dear sales toward the end of last week.

Young cattle were nearly quoted firm to dearer. Part of this was due to strong lot feeder and restocker activity, but the EYCI figure for the close of trade on Thursday was down 10.25¢ to 336.25¢/kg cwt. There have been many quotes of some very good quality cattle being sold, which may account for the price correction.

The supply of good to very good quality grown steers and bullocks, accounted for nearly 10% of all cattle reported by the NLRS. While the overall trend was for a 2¢ to 6¢/kg reduction in price, there were some excellent sales at some markets. While trade with Japan remains our biggest export market at around 378,000 tonnes in 2007, there have been limited supplies in the market place until recently. Now that more have come into physical markets, demand has remained very strong. A NSW processor entered some Victorian sales looking for 0 and 3 tooth grown steers.

Cow prices have led a very topsy turvy pattern over the past week, but with the value of the $A reaching a 24 year hight at over 94¢, processors reduced prices by up to 7¢/kg by the end of this week.

Grown steers strong

Prices across all sales reported by the NLRS were fairly steady. The best quality B muscle steers and heifers were 3¢ to 10¢ lower, making from 175¢ to 223.6¢/kg, while C muscle grades were unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer. Purchases for feedlots and by restockers showed most of these increases with most prices being between 155¢ and 190¢, although there were quite a number of sales ranging up to 207¢/kg.

Heavy weight grown steers were up to 7¢ dearer, pushing prices for C3 and C4 steers from 168¢ to 184¢/kg. Prime C3 and C4 bullocks were more plentiful, and a large percentage weighed from 640kg to 780kg lwt. While averaging 5¢/kg cheaper, there were a lot of sales between 156¢ and 168¢/kg. Cow prices have varied greatly over the past week, and the carcass weight price average finished at 269¢/kg. However, producers are still receiving very good prices as the range of 130¢ to 150¢/kg included a lot of the fatter 4, 5 and 6 score grades. Some of the leanest cows, best suiting the 90CL US market sold at the highest carcass weight prices with live-weight sales mostly between 105¢ and 132¢/kg.


More rain in the supply area

Some useful rain over the usual supply areas reduced the number of cattle penned at midweek markets. This led to supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS hovering around the previous week's level. Overall quality was generally good with cows dominating the selling pens.

The Morton selling centre reported an offering of just over 200 calves sold open option included in the line-up. Most of the supply areas are looking the best it has been from time with many producers not having enough cattle to utilise the available pasture.

Values for cows generally improved 2¢ to 6¢/kg. Additional support at markets early in the week saw the average price for the 2 and 3 score classes of cows improved, and by midweek this trend had followed onto the better grades. However steers and bullocks went against this trend, and battled to maintain the previous week’s rates with losses of 1¢ to 2¢/kg experienced on slaughter grades.

Most descriptions of young cattle moved to a lower level, with only selected lines of vealer heifers at Warwick meeting improved competition. The absence of some feeder buyer's in the market was most noticeable at sales early in the week, and this trend continued as the week progressed. With only a few major feedlot operators present at physical markets, and being very selective in their purchases values for the feeder grades generally lost 4¢ to 9¢/kg. This trend also flowed onto the slaughter grades particularly the heavy end of the trade descriptions with falls of 4¢ to 5¢ very common.

Young cattle cheaper

The majority of the calves returned to the paddock around 210¢ with sales to 236¢, while a small sample of slaughter descriptions mostly around 196¢/kg. Vealer steers to restockers or backgrounders generally sold over 200¢/kg with some to 226.2¢/kg. The occasional B muscle vealer heifer sold to local butchers at 216.2¢ with the majority of the C3s around 185¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers held firm at 195¢ with sales to 215.2¢/kg. Feeder classes in the medium weight range lost 4¢ to 9¢/kg and sold in the early to mid 180¢/kg range with some well bred grades reaching 194.2¢/kg. Slaughter descriptions made from 170¢ to 200.6¢/kg. The largest numbers of yearling heifers sold to the trade and medium weights experienced no change to average 181¢, while the heavy classes lost 5¢ to average 183¢/kg.

Grown steers to feed averaged 5¢ less at 177¢ as sales reached 184.2¢/kg. Heavy steers destined to export slaughter generally sold around 171¢ with sales to 185.2¢/kg. A fair sample of good heavy bullocks averaged 2¢ cheaper at 170¢ and sold to 177.2¢/kg. Medium weight score 2 and 3 cows averaged 116¢ and 129¢ respectively. However heavy score 4s were in the largest numbers and improved 2¢ to average 140¢, with a few pen lots reaching 155¢/kg.

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