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

South Australia

Numbers decline

Cattle numbers continued to fall. The SA LE had one of the smallest offerings witnessed for a long time with only 330 head offered in perhaps a producer backlash to the lower prices paid the previous week. One long serving agent stated that the 21 head yarded by a major agent would have been the lowest number he had seen in some 50 years. However, while numbers were low there was a good percentage of prime supplementary fed yearlings available that sold to animated bidding from local and interstate buyers. It was also amazing that only 9 cows were penned, with most in only 1 and 2 score condition. Naracoorte bucked the smaller yarding trend with an offering of 1,198 or 203 head more. Its numbers were boosted by a draft of some 220 young cattle from the Northern Territory out of The Garden Station in store condition after missing out on their usual summer rainfall, and only receiving around 45mm in one downpour over the past few months. These cattle sold to mainly restocker competition and were a credit to the producers when considering the harsh conditions they have been running in.

Mt. Gambier agents yarded 1,089 head or only 26 head less, and like Naracoorte featured improved quality numbers of young cattle, with many having been supplementary fed. Both yarding also contained good quality yardings of cows that sold to strong Victoria processor competition at generally dearer levels, with many sales rising above the 145¢/kg mark despite one interstate operator closing for maintenance next week.

Fluctuating trends

It was another week of fluctuating trends as the lower numbers offered sold to a myriad of orders. Vealer steers varied between unchanged and 9¢ dearer, and 3¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper to a mixture of feeder and trade competition. Most sales were from 175¢ to 210¢, with isolated sales reaching 246¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales ranged from 2¢ to 5¢ less, and 2¢ to 7¢ dearer, and mainly in a 154¢ to 210¢/kg price range. Yearling steers attracted a wide range of orders, with good quality selling above 155¢ to a peak of 209¢ for supplementary feds, with plain 1 and 2 scores selling below 150¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales ranged mainly between 145¢ and 191¢, with supplementary feds at the SA LE reaching 210¢/kg. Both categories attracted rates ranging from 1¢ to 11¢ dearer, and 1¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper.

Small runs of grown steers sold from 168¢ to 185¢ to be 2¢ to 5¢ less and 2¢/kg dearer, with carcase weight prices averaging close to 340¢/kg. The strong competition for cows led to most sales being unchanged to 9¢/kg dearer with only isolated sales cheaper. This led to most 3 to 5 scores selling at prices between 138¢ and 158¢/kg lwt.


Numbers decline

Currently there are annual closures by export abattoirs with one in SA, one in Gippsland closing this week, and another expected to follow in a couple of weeks. One of the largest processors have consolidated there works, closing one, while at the same time reducing their daily kill at another. As this is occurring during the winter months, the supply of cattle is limited as saleyard numbers fall due to the closures, and in most years this helps keep prices at levels prior to closures.

Coupled with some very good rain over the weekend and during the week, saleyard figures at MLA’s NLRS reported markets fell 8%, and it is expected that the next week will be quieter.

Prices have been firm to dearer during the early part of the week, and have closed firm to easier in Thursday’s sales. Prices of young cattle have actually improved for the better quality B and C muscle grades, but there have not been enough of these to stop the EYCI from easing 1.25¢ to 339.5¢/kg cwt. The best quality B muscle cattle have reached a peak not seen for a long time, and butchers and wholesalers have competed very strongly for the better quality C muscle vealers and yearling steers and heifers. The Victorian trade steer indicator eased 3¢ on last week to 195¢, while the feeder steer indicator lifted 1¢ to finish Thursday at 178¢/kg.

Cattle destined for export have again sold very well with bullock and cows prices averaging unchanged. The Victorian Japan ox and US cow indicators made slight gains this week, while the Medium steer dropped 2¢ to 174¢/kg.

Cows still strong

Strong demand for the best quality B and C muscle cattle was reflected in the prices paid. Most of these cattle made from 190¢ to 242¢/kg with plenty of other C muscle steers and heifers making between 170¢ and 195¢/kg. This lifted prices up to 10¢/kg. However leaner C muscle cattle made between 152¢ and 175¢/kg. While purchasing by feedlots and restockers varied from sale to sale, and in the intensity of prices, C and D muscle steers and heifers made from 148¢ to 188¢/kg.

The small supply of prime C3 and C4 bullocks made between 175¢ and 190¢ with medium weight grown steers making to 205¢/kg. The emphasis has again been on cows with the 90CL price for grinding reaching 395¢/kg FAS last week. Couple this with one processor securing enough cows to kill before they close, and prices were mostly unchanged to 8¢/kg dearer. Better quality beef cows made from 148¢ to 170¢/kg with export buyers and wholesalers competing strongly. The strongest demand was for leaner cows, and most of these made from 135¢ to 158¢/kg. Very poor quality lightweight cows made mostly between 95¢ and 138¢/kg.

Western Australia

More rainfall buoys seasonal hopes

A very strong live export activity continues in the north of the state in line with mustering activity and this remains the preferred selling option for pastoralists. Further south several more cold fronts again crossed the coast during week and brought further solid rainfall to much of the southern Ag districts and this has further enhanced hopes for the season. Soil moisture levels have now risen to the pint where runoff is now happening and this has aided many water levels in catchments and lifted dam levels considerably. Temperatures remain cold with very cold night temperatures continuing to see frosting in many areas and this has had a slowing effect on pasture growth.

Saleyard numbers rose due to considerably larger supplies of pastoral cattle with these regions accounting for the largest numbers of saleyard cattle penned this week. Numbers in the Great Southern were considerably lower, which is not surprising given the very large numbers seen in the past couple of months forwarded from drought affected areas and the recent rainfall that these regions have now received. The large supplies of pastoral cattle, coupled with the high percentage f lightweight store grades recorded in local drafts saw a very mixed quality realised in saleyards. Grain finished yearling supplies were lower this week as were the supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers which accounted for a very minimal percentage of total numbers. Cow numbers were also lower and this could be attributed to the closure for maintenance of the state’s largest export works.

Heavy weight cow rates recede

Vealer supplies were considerably lower this week and the small volumes remained of calf weights less than 100kg cwt. Demand from the local trade and retailers maintained a solid market with rates remaining fully firm. The smaller numbers of grain finished yearlings penned were of a reasonable quality but most remained of weights less than 400kg lwt. There was a slight increase in demand and competition from the local trade and retailers, which saw marginal increases in values, but the local market continues see high volumes of boxed beef entering the State from eastern states sources. Grass finished trade weight yearlings were all but non-existent and rates were unchanged to both the trade and restockers. The small numbers of heavy weight steers were predominately sourced from pastoral regions and sold equally, while a weaker restocker demand on heavy weight heifers compared to the previous week negatively impacted the market. The cow yarding lacked weight this week with fewer heavy weight drafts included. Overall trade demand was weaker this week and the market recorded falls of approximately 10c/kg lwt, while lighter and plainer condition store cows enjoyed reasonable restocker demand that created similar market values for both pastoral and local drafts.


Beneficial falls of rain

Beneficial falls of rain across a large area of the state is starting to turn seasonal conditions around. However with most stock already in transit before the commencement of the rain, the overall supply of stock across the state at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS only fell by a few hundred head. Despite the forecast of rain, numbers still remained relatively high, owing to the impending transport strike. Longreach reported an increase in supply as a few more cattle were bought forward earlier in anticipation of disruptions to transport. Values generally turned around with an increase in demand from a good panel of buyers with a large representation from interstate. The highlight of the sale at Dalby was two pens of certified grainfed Santa Gertrudis heavy steers donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service which sold to 211.2¢/kg to return over $1100/per head. The young classes of heavy steers generally sold to a stronger market, and this trend also flowed onto the young classes of bullocks especially supplementary or certified grainfed descriptions. Cows PTIC met very strong demand from restockers, and processors also stepped in on the 2 and 3 score categories and values lifted accordingly. Most classes of young cattle also enjoyed a dearer trend, despite the slip in the standard available. Calves to the trade improved 3¢, while restocker categories lifted 8¢/kg. Yearling steers and heifers suitable for the trade met stronger support from butchers and wholesalers with gains of 3¢ to 6¢/kg fairly common, and this development in demand was also shared by the feeder categories.

Most classes dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 180¢ and made to 215¢, while those returning to the paddock sold to 219¢ to average 193¢/kg. Feeder descriptions of vealer steers mostly sold around 187¢ with some to 199¢/kg. The largest samples of vealer heifers were C2s and values lifted 2¢ to average 171¢, while a small number of better grades were purchased by local butchers making to 207¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed generally gained 4¢ to 6¢, with a large sample averaging 178¢/kg. A large number of yearling heifers in the D2 range averaged 140¢, while the better classes of C3s to the trade averaged close to 174¢, with sales to 200¢, the occasional certified grainfed to 204¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers to feed remained firm at 170¢ with sales to 181¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 200¢ to average 187¢, and a few certified grainfeds from 210¢ to 211.2¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 180¢ with some supplementary fed grades reaching 202¢/kg. Cows PTIC sold to restockers to 149¢ with most just under 140¢/kg. PTIC lines also sold to processors at a top of 149¢ to average in the mid to high 140¢/kg range. Good heavy cows gained 4¢ to average 143¢ with sales to 162¢/kg.

New South Wales

Signs of quality lift

The cattle market showed signs that better quality and conditioned stock may not be too far away, particularly in some northern centres where pasture and crop conditions are relatively favourable. Most centres have been dominated by plain, unfinished offerings over the winter and autumn months while suitable slaughter cattle have been scarce. However, in the past month small but increasing numbers of crop fattened and supplementary fed cattle have begun to trickle into markets.

Light conditioned young cattle still made up the bulk of yardings with vealers running out at most centres. Reasonable rainfall over much of southern NSW and some central and northern regions over the weekend had only minimal impact on markets and total yardings at all centres were similar. The rain did inspire stronger restocker competition at Wagga on Monday where another moderate offering of 2,000 head were penned. An extra feedlot buyer bolstered strong processor demand and most vealers and yearlings sold in a range of 180¢ to 210¢/kg. The general market trend was variable but with moderate changes either side of firm. Restocking and feeder young cattle at Tamworth recorded falls of 6c to 8c/kg but were mainly unchanged at most other centres.

Scone also yarded a few more grown steers but this was against the wider trend that has been apparent in recent months. Most centres reported fewer and plainer quality grown steers and heifers and a generally firm market. Feedlots were again active on unfinished lots. Cow quality held up well with some northern centres yarding some well finished lots off pasture.

Prices Hold Steady

The recent strength in the market was maintained with most categories holding close to firm across all sales. Vealers were the exception and these were 3¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. Most of the light vealer steers went to restockers from 150¢ to 205¢/kg. Medium weight steers and heifers to processors ranged from 173¢ to 216¢/kg. The majority of the lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock slightly cheaper averaging 178.8¢/kg. Most other yearlings were unchanged with medium weights to feeders averaging 180¢ after reaching 195.6¢/kg. The heavy C3s to kill reached 207.6¢ and averaged 187¢/kg. Medium weight heifers to processors averaged 183¢/kg.

Grown steers were variable but average generally firm. Medium weights went mainly to feeders with the C3s ranging from 162¢ to 186¢/kg. Processors paid to 193¢ heavy weights while the best of the bullocks reached 192¢/kg. Grown heifers were also firm, averaging 165¢ and reaching 188¢/kg. Cows showed some variation between categories with light weights averaging 5¢ dearer at 120¢/kg. Medium weight D3s were firm, averaging 134¢, while heavy D4s eased 4¢, ranging from 130¢ to 166¢/kg. Bulls continued to strengthen, reaching 173¢/kg for B muscled heavy weights.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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