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 11 July 2008
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales

Little impact from rain

Useful early week rain had negligible impact on yardings at MLA’a NLRS reported centres as stronger markets continue to attract reasonable numbers. The very cold weather that accompanied the rain, particularly in the southern areas, maintained the pressure on producers to off-load stock where possible. A number of centres increased consignments. Casino yarded an additional 300 head, mainly extra young cattle, while Wagga increased 200 head for a total of 3,000 head. Numbers retreated by 430 head to 869 at Forbes, while Gunnedah and CTLX Carcoar also had smaller offerings. The composition of yardings showed little change from that of recent weeks with plainer conditioned vealers and yearlings in the majority. A smaller yarding at Gunnedah produced a high percentage of restocker and feeder cattle, as was the case at Singleton and Wagga. The pressure on processors to secure adequate numbers of prime cattle was exacerbated at Wagga by strong competition from feedlot buyers on the better finished yearlings. This helped push trade weight and feeder pens up by 7¢ to 8¢/kg, although heavy yearlings eased slightly. While variable, the general market trend was again dearer, most notably for the well finished vealers. Adequately covered steer and heifer vealers made from 200¢ to 230¢, while a single slaughter calf at Scone made to 274¢/kg.

The poor continuity of supply of grown steers and bullocks was again evident with most sales reporting a substantial fall in numbers, and in some instances an increase in the proportion of older lots. Cows, on the other hand, remain the mainstay of export sectors and were well supplied across most grades and generally sold to slightly stronger demand.

Lot feeders active

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to restocker remained firm at 186¢, while the vealer heifers met mostly cheaper rates to processors. The C2 lightweight vealer heifers eased 8¢ to average 185¢, while the C2 medium weights lifted 1¢ to 183¢/kg. Heavyweight C3s to processors dropped 6¢ to average 193¢/kg. Lot feeders purchased yearlings at mixed rates as the medium weight C2 yearling steer eased 1¢ to 180¢, while the C3s lifted 5¢ to 185¢/kg. Lot feeders remain firm on C3 heavyweights, while processors averaged 186¢, a fall of 4¢/kg. Lot feeders picked up yearling heifers at cheaper prices. The C2 and D2 lightweights fell 2¢ to average 168¢ and 152¢/kg, respectively. Restockers on the other hand lifted prices for C2 lightweights 3¢ to range from 143¢ to 178¢/kg. Heavyweight heifers to processors ranged from 145¢ to 204¢, a lift of 2¢/kg.

Grown steers returned vendors cheaper prices from mainly lot feeders and processors. Medium weight C2 fell 7¢ to feeders to average 158¢, while the C3s lost 5¢ to processors to range from 135¢ to 185¢/kg. The heavyweight C3 and C4s both eased 1¢ to processors to average 178¢ and 180¢/kg, respectively. Processors, however, purchased lightweight grown heifers 3¢ dearer, ranging from 140¢ to 186¢ to average 165¢/kg. Cow remained firm to slightly dearer with the D3 medium weights unchanged, averaging 134¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers retreat

While the recent rains are a boon for many cattle producers, most regions are well down on their average monthly rainfall figures. A few cold days and nights have also reminded us that winter is definitely here and will take its toll on quality until the warmer spring weather arrives.

One topic in the saleyards causing some concern amongst some buyers, are the increased number of pregnant cows being sold that not so long ago were wearing veterinary tail tags defining Category A and B, with most not in calf also being bang tailed. Perhaps a return to pregnancy stated tail wraps will help those buyers who want to know the status of each cow they are purchasing.

Naracoorte numbers fell dramatically and featured an improved quality run of young cattle, with another good quality yarding of just over 400 cows. Competition for most categories was stronger, with yearling heifers selling to the strongest demand. Cow prices improved despite an absent SE processor, with most selling to strong Victorian processor competition.

Conversely, the SA LE’s similar sized yarding witnessed quality slipping, with many 1 and 2 score cattle being offered. These sold to mainly feeder buyers at much lower rates for well bred cattle than in previous weeks, while trade purchases were limited by this lack of quality.

Mt. Gambier’s throughput eased marginally as quality improved on the young cattle. Most of the grown steers were only being in 2 score condition, and reasonably good quality runs of beef and dairy cows.

Mixed quality yardings

Most yardings consisted of yearlings with nearly 1,600 yarded statewide, together with another large offering of 758 cows. Vealer steers sold to a mixture of orders between 160¢ and 200¢, with B muscled sales to 221¢/kg. This left most sales varying from 2¢ to 13c cheaper, and 4¢ to 8¢kg dearer. Vealer heifers followed a similar pattern, although most finished with the trade between 145¢ and 190¢, with isolated sales to 214¢ to range from 1¢ to 4¢ dearer, and 4¢ to 10¢/kg less. Yearling steers to trade, feeder and restocker interests sold mostly between 145¢ and 205¢ with supplementary feds at the higher end. This left most sales 1¢ to 10¢ dearer in the South East, while being 3¢ to 15¢/kg cheaper at the SA LE. Yearling heifers also sold to a myriad of orders between 154¢ and 195c¢ wit supplementary feds to 213¢/kg for the better quality. However, plain quality really struggled to top 140¢/kg to mainly restocker activity.

Small numbers of grown steers were 1¢ to 4¢ dearer at rates manly between 166¢ and 185¢/kg. Cows tended to fluctuate 1¢ to 3¢ either side of unchanged, with most carcase weight prices ranging between 275¢ and 305¢/kg.


Rain effect on numbers

Rain across some of the usual supply areas had a slight effect on numbers as total yardings at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell 11%. However another large yarding was offered at Longreach and this trend is expected to continue for a few more weeks. Despite the large numbers of cows continuing to be offered at Longreach competition has remained strong although the large runs a good heavy weights penned recently were absent. This was highlighted by the number of leaner cows in each weight range.

Nevertheless this trend was reversed in the south of the state with large numbers of cows in the 3 and 4 score ranges. The grown steer and bullock portion also contained large runs of 3 and 4 score classes with a large run over 600kg. Values for the steers and bullocks generally hovered around the previous weeks improved rates, even though there was a tapering off in quality at some selling centres. Cows in good condition managed to improve 2¢ to 4¢/kg, with some in the lower fat score ranges experiencing larger improvements. Young cattle also realised some lift with calves and vealers gaining 3¢ to 10¢/kg. However the major gains occurred on the heavy grades of yearling heifers with a rise of 15¢, and close to 20¢/kg at some markets.

The general trend for the price of feed grains has been downward. This is the result of US futures taking a tumble, some local rains and the lack of consumer participation in the market.

A dearer trend

Calves to restockers averaged 185¢ with sales to 213¢, while trade descriptions averaged 171¢/kg. Vealers steers met strong support from feeder operators and restockers with most in the south of the state around 180¢ to 190¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade across all markets improved 10¢ to average close to 166¢, a few to butchers making to 195¢/kg. Yearling steers to restockers lifted over 10¢ in places with sales to 197¢/kg. Feeder grades varied according to quality with most sales in the 170/c/kg range. Yearling heifers to feed gained 6¢ after reaching 180¢/kg, however some of this improvement could be attributed to a lift in quality. Slaughter descriptions lifted in value by 8¢ to 15¢ due to much stronger demand from supermarkets wholesalers and butchers. The heavy grades averaged 186¢ and sold to 196¢ with some certified grainfeds to 201¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 5¢ better at 172¢ with sales to 178¢/kg. Heavy steers destined to export slaughter mostly sold around 180¢ with some to 201¢/kg. A large selection of good heavy bullocks made to 202¢ with most just under 179¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 119¢ and 3 scores 132¢/kg. Good heavy cows averaged 2¢ better at 148¢ the occasional pen reaching 164.2¢/kg. Heavy bulls were dearer with sales to 177¢/kg.


Numbers slip

Very good rain through the western and northern eastern areas of the state, helped to reduce the supply of cattle at saleyards reported by MLA’s NLRS. Over the state there was a 10% reduction, which would have been larger except that Gippsland sales managed to offer 10% higher numbers.

Part of the reason behind Gippsland’s large supply of grown cattle is due to the ensuing closure of a major export abattoir for a four week maintenance period. In the past when this processor has closed the supply of bullocks and cows has dropped right off.

Lower numbers overall kept competition steady, and although there were some positive, and negative price trends, overall averages were close to firm. Young cattle accounted for just 31% of the state yarding with almost half of these being yearling heifers. No surprise with the good prices offered lately, cows dominated the grown cattle supply and represented 45% of the total state throughput.

With the supply of good quality trade cattle dwindling, and feedlot demand remaining quite high, trade cattle prices have been solid. The EYCI was 1¢/kg lower compared to the same time last week to be 339.25¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday’s markets. Most of the price fall of 1¢ to 4¢/kg for the major indicators was due to a slip in quality. Some very good prices were again realised for the top quality across all categories, as buyers seek the high yielding percentages to give processors the best opportunity to maximise some profit. While overseas prices are still good, local shoppers are being more prudent in their purchases.

Cows in demand

Only a limited number of calves were offered with mostly lightweights yarding selling around 178¢/kg. High quality B muscle vealers and yearlings made between 205¢ and 237¢/kg. There are still some supplementary fed yearlings in most sales to create strong competition, as the good C muscle cattle making between 175¢ and 215¢/kg. With the boxed beef trade becoming more prevalent, there continues to be good support for a range of better finished D muscle steers and heifers of varying ages. Prices for these were mostly from 145¢ to 178¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were firm to 5¢/kg easier with the best quality C3 and C4 heavy weights unchanged after selling from 165¢ to 190¢/kg. A very large range in prices for medium weight steers from 165¢ to 205¢/kg was realised.

Demand for cows is still very strong from all export processors, and wholesalers. With saleyard prices eclipsing over the hooks rates, there have been more cows coming to markets. Good quality cows continue to make from 138¢ to 170¢/kg, although some very high yielding cows were yarded. The better drafts of dairy cows sold between 135¢ and 158¢, while most of the plain 1 scores made between 112¢ and 138¢/kg.

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