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 20 February 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


A further reduction in supply

Beneficial falls of follow up rain across southern districts plus flooding in the north of the state resulted in a further 20% reduction in supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS. Longreach is now likely to only recommence selling in March. Water is still lying around the town and the saleyards, and trucks are not allowed to be on some of the roads off the highways for another two weeks. Cattle are able to move around Mareeba however numbers were restricted to just over a hundred head.

The mixed quality line-up on young cattle at markets early in the week generally sold to strong competition, with only well bred lines in demand. A full panel of export buyers were present at all were keen to make purchases. Prices achieved for export grades of heavy steers and bullocks turned around and improved 6¢ to 8¢ and up to 10¢/kg on some small samples. Cows also attracted stronger demand to gain 5¢ and up to 10¢/kg.

More rain cancelling some consignments at Dalby combined with a larger panel of export buyers the trend of a stronger export market continued. Steers and bullocks at Dalby enjoyed a further lift in values with improvements of 7¢ to 9¢/kg fairly common. The majority of the cows were heavy 4 scores and prices lifted 3¢ to 8¢/kg compared to the previous sale. Nevertheless young cattle experienced a mixed trend with feeder and slaughter grades selling to a firm market. While recent rainfall encouraged previous hesitant restockers to be more active and prices responded accordingly.

Restocker grades climb in value

Calves to restockers improved 12¢ to average 194¢ with sales to 207.2¢ and trade descriptions averaged 170¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers sold to restockers at 176¢ with some to 192.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers generally when to the trade at an average of 165¢, with only a few selected heavy grades to the butcher trade making to 197.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers were in demand from restockers and lifted 15¢ to average 186¢ with sales to 205.2¢/kg. Lightweight feeders averaged 169¢ and medium weights 162¢ to 166¢, and heavy slaughter grades 165¢ with sales to 181.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade averaged 154¢ and sold to 175.2¢/kg. The relatively small supply of medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 159¢ and sold to 164.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter across all markets averaged 6¢ better at 165¢ with a few reaching 176.6¢/kg. A fair supply of good heavy bullocks averaged 11¢ dearer at 167¢ with a few pens making to 175.2¢/kg. The majority of the cows were 3 and 4 score classes, and medium weight 3 scores averaged 127¢, while the good heavy grades averaged 6¢ dearer at 139¢ with a few sales to 152.2¢/kg. A long with other export grades bulls received stronger demand to lift by just under 10¢/kg.

New South Wales

Small numbers

All markets recorded lower numbers with the greatest falls witnessed at Dubbo, CTLX Carcoar and Inverell. Throughput fell 28% with a number of markets impacted by the recent rains, particularly in the Hunter, North and North West of the state. Large falls of rain have been received over these areas; however the southern regions continue to miss out. Prior to this week prices were declining and this was also a factor behind producers holding back supplies.

There has been very little change to quality with all markets recording variation and only limited numbers of properly finished cattle. Breeding was fair to good, however it is the finish that is lacking across the majority. This has given restocker and feeders a larger selection to choose from.

All the regular buyers were present and active with the reduced numbers creating some spirited competition at times. Prices overall have lifted, and regained in some cases a fair percentage of recent weeks price falls. The largest gains were realised for the lightweight categories and those selling to restockers. The slaughter ready cattle also received good gains due to tight supply. Young cattle were generally 5¢ to 10¢ dearer although rises of 20¢/kg or more were not uncommon. Grown cattle ranged from 1¢ to 9¢kg dearer.

Young cattle accounted for around 62% of state throughput with the majority being yearlings as calves and vealers represented just 33%. Restockers and feeders made their presence felt on a number of categories. Of the grown cattle, cows continue to be the largest number with most being medium and heavyweights.

Strong demand

Calves made to 221.6¢ to return to the paddock as those to slaughter sold around 197¢/kg. Very light vealer steers were up to 37¢ dearer with most from 184¢ to 202¢/kg. The medium weights to restockers lifted 5¢ to 182.7¢ while the trade paid mostly 177¢/kg. Good heavy B muscle lines topped at 217¢/kg. Light vealer heifers to slaughter improved 16¢ to sell around 183.7¢, while medium weights made around 176¢/kg. Light feeder yearling steers were 11¢ dearer as restocking lines gained 8¢ as they both ranged from 165¢ to 168¢/kg. The small number of C3 medium weights to slaughter reached 203¢ and lifted 7¢ to 168.8¢/kg. The majority sold to feeders and restockers from 161¢ to 171¢/kg. Heavy yearlings to slaughter improved 6¢ to 162¢/kg. The medium weight C3 yearling heifers sold to 195¢ to average 155¢ while a single B3 lightweight topped at 205.6¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 and heavy C4s, in small numbers, were 6¢ dearer in selling at 151¢ and 161¢/kg respectively. Feeders were active on medium weights which averaged 157.6¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 157¢ after selling to a top of 172.4¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows lifted 9¢ to 128¢ as the heavy D4s averaged 133¢ to be 7¢/kg dearer.

South Australia

Larger numbers

With all sales returning to their usual days, there were larger yardings across the board.

The SA LE contained very mixed quality runs of young cattle that sold to the usual buyers, with a Victorian wholesaler back in action exclusively sourcing heavyweight yearlings. Feeder buyers were active at dearer levels, as they bid strongly on lightweight well bred vealer and yearling steers and heifers. There were also large drafts of lightweight pastoral bred heifers that attracted solid bidding between 113¢ and 134¢/kg.

With Mt. Gambier returning to combined categories starting at 8.00am and continuing due to the new trucking regulations that are providing considerable headache when moving stock, it was left to Naracoorte to start the SE sales. The larger yarding contained mixed quality runs of young cattle, while there was an excellent quality yarding of heavy cows with some in excess of 800kg. Young cattle sold to a mainly dearer trend, there was a yearling heifer sold as a donation for the Victorian Fire Appeal. The cow market was a revelation as the strong processor competition aided by a solid NSW order for cows, lifted many sales above the 130c/kg mark again.

There was $13,663.70 raised by donated cattle at the Mt Gambier sale for the Victorian Fire Appeal. Overall the larger yarding sold to solid trade and processor competition, with cows attracting the dearest prices.

Millicent numbers fell as supply in the local area falls away.

Most Categories Dearer

With stock movements in many parts of Queensland and NSW stalled by the heavy rainfall, it generally led to stronger competition despite the larger numbers offered. Vealer steers to the trade sold between 155¢ and 184¢, with B muscled lightweights reaching 191¢, at rates 4¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker activity lacked intensity with most of their purchases from 152¢ to 166¢ or 1¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifer sales varied a few cents either side of unchanged as the trade secured most between 130¢ and 169¢/kg. There were isolated sales of lightweights to 191¢/kg. Yearling steers in small runs sold between 130¢ and 173¢, at rates that were generally unchanged to 9¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer sales varied from 2¢ to 6¢ dearer, and up to 4¢/kg cheaper, as most sold between 132¢ and 168¢/kg.

Grown steer C3 and C4 sales ranged mainly between 152¢ and 166¢ at basically unchanged rates, or around 290¢/kg cwt. Strong competition for cows left most sales anywhere between 5¢ and 20¢ dearer, and only a few prices falling below 110¢/kg. This tended to leave most good quality cows selling between 118¢ and 134¢, with carcase weight prices mostly from 240¢ to 265¢/kg.


Improved demand

A change for the better was witnessed at most of the markets reported by MLA’s NLRS throughout the week, culminating in some much higher prices for vealers and some yearlings, at the Bairnsdale market. All of this was despite a larger yarding of young and grown cattle, and at times this was achieved with less competition.

Some of the higher prices achieved was due to a general lift in the quality of the cattle sold, and this encompassed most classes of cattle. After struggling through a week of plainer quality and weaker demand the previous week, it was refreshing to see the stronger demand and higher prices. Given no further worsening of the financial conditions in Australia, this could give some hope to producers. They surely deserve this as the massive floods in the north, and horrendous fires in Victoria have taken a serious toll on stock numbers.

A similar trend was evident over most states and this is highlighted by the Eastern States Indicators which realised a steady trend for trade steers and Jap Ox, but cow and young cattle indicators were higher. The EYCI at the close of trade Thursday was 8¢ higher than the same period the previous week to be 307.5¢/kg cwt.

Sales of meat into Japan continue to be poor, which has kept prices at recent levels. Sales of heavy steers were dearer, as better quality triggered most of the gains. Prices for cows varied quite a lot depending on the category and the time week. Overall though, there was a rise of 6¢/kg in the average carcass weight price.

Mixed vealer prices

Prices varied throughout the week, particularly for better quality vealers. Some of this occurred without competition from a major supermarket at Pakenham on Monday. However, it was evident by the end of the week that processors needed supply as prices reached 200¢/kg for some vealers. The best quality B muscle vealers made between 165¢ and 190¢/kg at most sales, as the good quality C muscle lots that made up to 183¢/kg.

Trade buyers, lot feeders and restockers competed freely for suitable cattle paying between 145¢ and 175¢/kg for steers and heifers. There was a pen of supplementary fed heifers that made from 185¢ to 200¢/kg on Thursday, but most of the grass finished yearlings made from 135¢ to 172¢/kg.

While there was a lift in prices of up to 5¢ for grown steers, better quality aided prices of 145¢ to 165¢/kg. Exporters and boning rooms were all keen to purchase cows. This caused prices lift 3¢ to 12¢ with better quality beef cows making from 120¢ to 146¢/kg. The cows best suiting the 90CL US market made mostly from 95¢ to 128¢/kg.

West Australia

Rainfall in the north

Heavy rainfall has been received across a wide area of northern WA with a rain bearing tropical low brining heavy falls to much of the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions. The falls, which in places exceeded 250mm, have caused some severe flooding to regions but reports of damage have at this stage been minimal. The solid rainfall will now bring on strong grass supplies in these areas and it is hoped that the scene is now set for further follow up.

In the southern agricultural districts conditions have remained warm and predominately dry with only light falls of rain recorded on the southern and south eastern coastal regions. Feed supplies continue to diminish in the agricultural regions with supplementary feeding now in full swing, while early calving is also under way.

Cattle numbers at both reported markets were marginally lower with the Great Southern sale remaining the larger of the two centres. The vast majority of cattle were sourced from local Ag regions with pastoral cattle supplies making up for only a limited percentage of total numbers sold. Vealer supplies were reasonable, despite being lower than the previous week and discussions have begun between agents as to how long the two-day sales format will be continued in the Great Southern.

Trade weight grass finished yearling supplies were maintained at similar levels, while heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifer numbers remained tight. Cows continued to maintain their healthy yarding percentages, while lightweight bull volumes were reasonable at both markets. Overall quality remains mixed as feed supplies continue to impact cattle condition.

Cow market regains recent falls

Steers continued to account for the majority of vealer numbers. There remained a good selection of heavy weights in excess of 330kg even though medium weight drafts were the largest to be sold. Medium and lightweight vealer steers received an increased feeder and restocker demand that created rates rise of up to 5¢/kg. Heavy weight steer vealers maintained their recent levels with a very solid local trade and feeder demand recorded with C2 and 3 sales averaging just in excess of 168¢/kg. This also included those in excess of 400kg. Lightweight vealer heifer quality was plainer this week and this did have a negative impact on demand. Heavy weight vealer heifer rates were also unchanged with their medium weight counterparts up 3¢ to 4¢/kg. Trade weight yearling steer rates rose marginally due to an improved local trade inquiry, while heifer rates were maintained on a mixed quality.

Heavy weight steer and bullock values also recorded slight price rises, but overall remained similar in value. The past seven days have also allowed the cow market to regain the recent losses as heavy weight 3 and 4 scores averaged 107¢/kg with heavy bulls also dearer.

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