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 6 March 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


A small lift in supply

The combination of fine weather and the Millmerran Show prime cattle exhibits helped lift supply and also boost quality at sales early in the week. Overall across all markets covered by MLAs NLRS supply lifted 11%. Longreach is still yet to commence selling and the first sale for a number of weeks at Mareeba brought forward a smallish sized yarding. The Warwick market experienced greater numbers as local producers offloaded calves and vealers before winter. There was a lift in supply of young cattle plus an increased number of poor condition cows compared to previous weeks. However by midweek at Dalby with a number of producers sowing some early oats or harvesting sorghum numbers fell.

Apart from a slip in the standard at some centres overall quality continues to be good especially in the grown cattle section with the vast majority of the cows in the 3 and 4 score range, and this trend was also evident in the grown steer and bullock portion.

There continues to be a wide variation in the quality of the young cattle, nevertheless the plain condition lines received strong support from restockers and feeder operators.

Young cattle prices were varied with some firm to 8¢/kg cheaper as other categories were able to sell to dearer levels. Apart from the show cattle export steers and bullocks at markets early in the week met a steady inquiry however as the week progressed values for these classes climbed up by 2¢ to 5¢/kg. Cow prices increased a further 1¢ to 2¢/kg against the very solid values experienced in previous weeks.

Most classes dearer

Calves to the trade average close to 178¢ and restocker classes sold around 192¢ with sales to 209.2¢/kg. A big percentage of the vealers steers sold to restockers at 198¢ with some pen lots to 212.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers were well supplied with trade descriptions holding close to the firm at 169¢, while the limited number of top end quality lines suited to local butchers were scarce and made to 192.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers met a firm inquiry and made to 192.2¢ with most around 175¢/kg. A lift in demand for feeder classes saw prices better by around 3¢ with the largest numbers averaging 173¢ after selling to 190.2¢/kg. The heavy end of the trade descriptions improved 7¢ with most around 171¢ with sales to 180.2¢ the occasional certified grainfed reaching 192.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers generally met a firm market following the lift in demand the previous week. Feeder descriptions averaged 156¢ and slaughter lines 161¢ with isolated sales to 189.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 2¢ better at 165¢ with a few pens reaching 172.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter gained 5¢ to average 171¢ with sales to 182.2¢/kg. A good supply of bullocks sold to 182.2¢ with most 2¢ dearer at 167¢, and the certified grainfed portion made to 193.2¢ to average close to 173¢/kg. Good heavy cows were in the largest numbers and improved 2¢ to average 141¢ with sales to 154.2¢/kg.

New South Wales

Grown cattle numbers slip

The overall yarding increased at MLA’s NLRS reported markets, albeit only 8% as a handful of centres actually offered reduced numbers. Wagga, Gunnedah, Casino and Dubbo continue to be the largest centres and accounted for just on 50% of the state weekly yarding. Current throughput though is 6% below the corresponding time last week. Total combined January and February yardings for 2009 are just over 3% below the same period in 2008.

A greater percentage of young cattle were offered compared to last week was offered to the regular field of buyers. Grown cattle slipped to represent 41% of the total yarding which is a fall of 4%. Most of the vealers offered were light and medium weight with heavy weight steers and heifers accounting for around 4% of the vealers yarded. Of the young cattle, yearlings represented 61% with restockers and feeders showing greater enthusiasm than recent weeks. Grown steers were generally medium and heavy weights although a fair run of bullocks was also available. Cow numbers were around 50% of the grown cattle penned with medium and heavy weights dominating.

The limited selection of finished young cattle has been mixed in with the plain lines which have been suited to restockers and feeders. This trend was also witnessed for the grown cattle with lean cattle in fair numbers.

Prices have been mixed as well with calves generally dearer while the vealer portion has recorded variations of 5¢/kg either side of last week. A similar trend for the yearlings was realised. Grown steers were mostly firm while cows could not maintain last weeks prices.

Cheaper trend

Light calves reached 270¢ as most sold around 187¢/kg returning to the paddock. Medium weight vealer steers to restockers were 1¢ cheaper at 184¢, however those to slaughter lost 8¢ to sell around 175¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to processors were 4¢ cheaper at 174¢ as good quality B muscles reached 207.8¢/kg. A large number of light yearling steers were purchased by restockers around 171¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feeders lifted 3to 168¢ as those to the trade held firm at 169¢/kg. Heavy weights to feeders averaged 161¢ to be 3¢/kg dearer. Medium weight yearling heifers to slaughter topped at 199¢ to remain firm at 156¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders eased slightly with most making 148¢ to 158¢ as processors improved 1¢ to 150.2¢/kg. Heavy 3 score steers in large numbers sold to 174.2¢ to average 158¢ as the 4 scores sold around 162¢/kg. The few bullocks generally made around 163¢/kg. Most of the better grown heifers to slaughter averaged 146¢ with plainer lines making around 132¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows slipped 3¢ to 123¢ while the heavy 3 and 4 scores were 1¢ to 3¢ cheaper in making mostly from 124¢ to 129¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers retreat

While there was a larger yarding at the SA LE, are numbers finally retreating in the South East with Naracoorte and Mount Gambier both having reduced numbers. Pastures are drying out in the lower South East, with only irrigation providing any greenery. Millicent agents yarded a greatly reduced yarding as numbers decline in that region as well.

The SA LE’s quality was quite mixed with only a few prime yearlings attracting any solid bidding, as did lightweight 2 scores to feeders, with all other categories generally selling to a cheaper trend. A few pastoral bred yearling steers sold well for their quality, and averaged close 140¢/kg. There were also pastoral bred yearling heifers, manufacturing steers and bulls in the yarding. There was some feeder activity on medium weight 1 and 2 score cows that helped to prop up prices, while processors generally sourced the majority of cows offered.

Naracoorte’s sale featured more young cattle, with cow numbers finally seeming to retreating after months of larger yardings. In a strange sale young cattle were mainly cheaper which was due to the varying quality offered. Export categories though were mainly dearer due to the strong competition from both sides of the border, with added inquiry coming from a NSW order. A Victorian feedlot order was also back in action.

Mt. Gambier’s sale followed a similar pattern to Naracoorte due to the smaller numbers offered, while Millicent’s small yarding sold at basically unchanged rates.

Fluctuating trends

It was generally a week where young cattle prices retreated, while improving on export categories, and was mainly due to a South Eastern processor sourcing more cattle than in previous weeks. Vealer steers to the trade sold mainly between 162¢ and 191¢, or from 2c¢ to 6¢ dearer, and 3¢ to 12¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases were mostly from 152¢ to 178¢ at unchanged rates. Vealer heifer sales were erratic as they ranged between unchanged and 9¢ cheaper, while isolated sales were up to 15¢/kg dearer. This only left a wide spread of prices mainly between 140¢ and 180¢, with lightweights to 196¢/kg. Yearling steers were generally 1¢ to 3¢ less as most sales ranged between 140¢ and 170¢/kg to a mix of orders. Yearling heifer sales varied a few cents either side of unchanged, also to a mixture of trade, feeder and restocker orders at rates mainly between 130¢ and 168¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks sold 3¢ to 8¢ dearer, with C3 and C4 sales between 150¢ and 170.5¢, or around 295¢/kg cwt. Cows were 1¢ to 5¢ dearer over a wide range of weights and quality that generally sold between 240¢ and 275¢/kg cwt.


Supply declines

The difficulty in shifting product, particularly overseas continues to hamper processors who are trying to keep prices at a sustainable level to maintain operations. However, it always amazing how quickly prices at physical markets change when a lack of supply occurs. Yardings receded 20% at MLA’ NLRS reported markets with most categories affected, but more so the young cattle. This was highlighted by the much improved prices late in the week for vealers and could be an indication of things to come if an Autumn break eventuates. Supply was affected by cheaper prices of last week, and the lead up to the long weekend, which will also affect total availability next week.

Quality was mixed but there were some properly finished cattle scattered amongst each category. Most of the regular buyers were present and looking to purchase correct specification cattle, particularly with the lack of markets on Monday next week.

Young cattle accounted for just 46% of the state yarding with yearlings in the greatest number. Prices at Bairnsdale were mostly 3¢ to 8¢ dearer for young cattle, but isolated sales were noted to rise up to 24¢/kg. Across the state though, prices for young cattle varied little throughout the week.

Extra competition at the Leongatha grown cattle sale lifted bullock prices 4¢, as the state average finished at 156¢/kg. Demand varied for cows, with weight and condition of a smaller offering impacting on competition. The carcass weight price overall averaged 4¢ lower at 250¢/kg. Bull prices were very mixed, but showed some signs of improving.

Quality in demand

Bairnsdale is known for excellent quality vealers form now to the end of Autumn, and this week was no exception with a larger number of excellent quality, high yielding vealers penned. Coupled with much stronger demand prices were from 180¢ to 223¢/kg with pen lots making over 200¢/kg.

Across the rest of the markets vealers made 165¢ to 195¢ with isolated sales to 212¢/kg. The stronger demand from lot feeders and processors caused a large number of C muscle young cattle to sell between 148¢ and 186¢/kg. However, cattle of plainer shape and condition continued to sell to only weak support and made from 110¢ to 158¢/kg. There were some supplementary fed heavy yearlings that made to 170¢/kg

A decline in the supply of grown steers led to better competition at some sales, and a higher average. Prime C3 and C4 bullocks made from 148¢ to 160¢ as grown steers to 165¢/kg. A lift in prices for manufacturing steers was also recorded. There was fewer good quality beef cows penned with 3 and 4 scores accounting for 30% of the cows penned which ranged from 114¢ and 138¢/kg. The better quality lean cows sold from 105¢ to 125¢ as very plain cows sold from 65¢/kg.

West Australia

Numbers slip

Both centres reported by MLA’s NLRS offered reduced numbers with total throughput declining 18%. This was the first combined sale for the Great Southern saleyard which recorded the largest fall of the two centres reported with around 25% less cattle offered than last week. The Midland market was impacted on by the Monday public holiday pushing the sale to Tuesday. When compared to the corresponding time last year total throughput was down a substantial 49% with most of the difference recorded at Great Southern Saleyard. When the first 2 months of 2009 are compared to the same period in 2008 current throughput is just 3% higher.

Overall quality was variable and in many cases below that of recent weeks with many of the young cattle at Midland in store condition and as a result were purchased by feeders. There were reduced buyers present and restockers were not as active. Prices were also very mixed with the young cattle ranging from firm to dearer through to cheaper. Grown cattle sold to a similar trend although most were cheaper.

Even though the vealer season is coming to an end at the Great Southern Saleyard, young cattle accounted for 63% of the state yarding with the vast majority of these being vealers. Around 80% of the vealers were steers with the heavier end dominating. Feeders purchased around 58% of the vealers penned with restockers with restockers also securing a fair run with 33% returning back to the paddock. Most of the yearlings either returned to the paddock or to feeders with processors securing just a handful of yearling heifers. As is the trend in the eastern states cows dominated the grown cattle and accounted for 23% of the total yarding.

Mixed prices

Vealer steer prices varied greatly although most were dearer. Most of the better quality medium weights selling to feeders ranged from 170¢ to 176¢ with the leaner lines making close to 170¢/kg. Those returning to the paddock sold from 174¢ to 195¢/kg. Heavy vealer steers to feeders were up to 4¢ cheaper and sold in the mid to high 160¢ range after selling to a top of 179¢/kg. Most of the feeder vealer heifers made from 146¢ to 150¢ as the plainer grades held firm at around130¢/kg. Vealer heifers topped at 210¢/kg for a single B muscled heavy weight at Midland. Live exporters were active on the yearling steers across all weight ranges paying to a top of 166¢ as most ranged from 143¢ to 164¢/kg.

Very few light and medium weight grown steers were penned as some good heavy steers to slaughter reached 156¢ for a pen lot as others sold closer to 139¢/kg. Light pastoral cows averaged 72¢ with the plain end selling closer to 50¢/kg. Medium weight D2 and D3 local cows sold to solid demand with good gains realised in selling from 90¢ to 106¢/kg. Light and medium weight bulls to live export continue to sell to strong demand.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.