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 9 April 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Easter break restricts numbers

With the consecutive shorter trading weeks due to the Easter holiday period, numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported markets were 45% lower than last week. No sales were reported on Thursday at Bairnsdale or Colac, with both of these centres penning larger numbers last week in anticipation of the two week layoff between sales. Camperdown, Ballarat and Pakenham were slightly lower in numbers at the beginning of the week and Shepparton actually penned an increased yarding. The increased number at Shepparton was influenced by the dry seasonal conditions as cooler weather sets in, along with dairy farmers dispersing stock and spring calves beginning to be turned off. Leongatha and Warrnambool had substantially reduced yardings with only small numbers penned at both of these sales on Wednesday. Wodonga numbers were also mainly reduced due to less cows coming forward on Wednesday.

The regular buying contingent were present at all Monday and Tuesday sales however like the number of vendors on Wednesday, there were some buyers either not operating or not in attendance at Warrnambool. Most of the young cattle were yearling heifers that sold to feedlot orders. At Leongatha demand was strong for any well finished cattle due to the lack of supply of suitable lines, with the majority of the market plain cattle that sold to cheaper prices.

Plain and light cows along with higher numbers of heifers were evident at most markets, however price trends were mixed from centre to centre with northern and Western District markets mainly cheaper, with the exception of Ballarat, while Gippsland markets were firm for cows.

Prices soften

Prices generally moved to cheaper levels despite lower supplies coming forward. Yearling steers suffered the largest deductions, although it was as much of a quality factor as it was the shorter working week which restricted demand. There were some very good vealer steers at Pakenham which made between 200¢ and 238.6¢ and some yearling steers which made 190¢ to 226¢/kg. However this was not a reflection of the overall market picture across the state, with restocker C2 vealer steers making 174¢ and those to slaughter between 177¢ and 180¢/kg. Medium weight C muscled yearling steers were firm to 10¢/kg cheaper to all buying sectors. Restockers paid 163¢ for medium weight C2s, lotfeeders paid 165¢ and processors 166¢/kg for medium and heavy C3 yearling steers. Medium weight yearling heifers were 7¢ less at 152¢ to 160¢/kg.

Grown steers averaged 160¢ to 165¢/kg for C3 and C4s across all weights, with prices firm to a few cents cheaper. Cow prices slipped by a similar margin to the grown steers, with the higher A$ placing downward pressure on exporters. Medium weight beef cows to slaughter averaged 125¢ to 132¢/kg for the better end with dairy lines more in the 114¢ to 120¢/kg bracket.

SA weekly cattle summary

Fewer cattle

The much improved prices paid at the SA LE last week witnessed numbers rising slightly, and only drew an inferior quality yarding when considering the previous week’s prime runs, and sold to weaker competition from the usual buyers. The small numbers of prime cattle sold at marginally lower levels as the operating trade buyers struggled to source numbers of properly finished cattle.

Feeder orders, while having more cattle to choose from, were hamstrung by the scarcity of well bred 2 scores that sold at basically unchanged rates, while easing considerably on other purchases. Limited numbers of 2 score vealer steers sold to the trade and feeder activity at lower levels, with the heifer portion all in 3 score condition selling from 180¢ to 230¢/kg. Most light and medium weight yearling steers were sourced by the feeder orders, with some pastoral lines selling between 120¢ and 160¢/kg lwt. The heavy weights tended to sell to the trade, albeit at lower levels. The yearling heifers sold to a mixture of orders at easier rates to the trade, and 10¢ to 27¢ lower on plainer quality with some pastoral 1 scores only attracting prices between 86¢ and 94¢/kg. Cow prices failed to maintain recent improved rates.

Naracoorte’s numbers fell substantially for a very mixed quality yarding that tended to sell to soft trade and processor competition due to some of them only operating intermittently. This was a result of them having enough numbers to see out this short kill week. Feeder and restocker orders were faced with a yarding more suited to their requirements.

Quality and prices slip

Due to the consecutive short kill weeks and quality being plainer only exacerbated the lower prices being paid. Most vealer steers to feeder and restocker orders were between 150¢ and 186¢ at rates 2¢ to11¢/kg cheaper. Limited trade purchases were from 173¢ to 200¢, with isolated sales reaching 223¢, or 3¢ to 13¢/kg less. Vealer heifers were 2¢ to 12¢ cheaper, although isolated sales of lightweights were 10¢ dearer selling to 230¢, with all other sales between 155¢ and 200¢/kg. Yearling steers to the trade sold from 170¢ to 186¢, with supplementary feds peaking at 201¢/kg. This left most sales ranging from 7¢ dearer, and 2¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker rates were 5¢ to 10¢ less, as most purchases ranged between 160¢ and 186¢/kg. Due to the weaker tend at the SA LE yearling heifers were 5¢ to 12¢ cheaper, as C3 sales ranged between 150¢ and 183¢, the higher price for supplementary feds.

Small numbers of grown steers sold from 150¢ to 170¢ at lower levels, and averaged 285¢/kg cwt. Cow prices were 2¢ to 8¢ lower as most 3 to 5 scores sold from 124¢ to 147¢, and generally between 250¢ and 280¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Lower numbers penned in physical markets

The majority of WA realised a week of fine hot and dry weather with only the far northern tip of the state seeing limited and mild thunderstorm activity. Mustering activity in the north of the state is on the increase as demand from the live export sector again focuses its attention on these regions with weather conditions now favourable for cattle work. In the southern Ag districts of the state the major talking pint of industry remains the stand off in negotiations between the state’s largest export works and the union over pay conditions with no resolution yet to be agreed upon. Feed conditions in traditional cattle areas of the southwest continue to decline with supplementary feeding in full swing with the prolonged dry of summer and autumn yet to bring green feed supplies. Calving activity is also very prevalent with early programmes now finished.

Saleyards were lower this week due to several reasons. Firstly the Easter holiday period saw the cancellation of the Great Southern’s sale, while the on set of two short weeks saw agents and producers alike nervous about trade demand and subsequent market conditions in physical sales. Processors continue to report that they have good supplies of cattle being quoted to them with bookings direct to works in some cases almost full a month in advance. Both midland and the southwest yarding had smaller supplies this week and these continued to have only limited supplies of heavy weight steers and heifers included. Trade weight yearling supplies also tightened as would be expected at this time of year.

Heavy cattle values maintained

Despite being this early into the season there remain reasonable supplies of lightweight calves at Midland suitable for the ethnic retail trade and subsequently rates have remained relatively stable and are yet to see the very strong competition usually recorded at this time of year. The majority of both yardings continued to be made up of large supplies of young store grades of cattle with the numbers of vealers suitable for slaughter all but non-existent. Demand for medium weight steer and heifer stores remains buoyant with a consistent feeder and restocker demand having been recorded. Lightweight categories have also maintained the stronger demand that they have realised in recent times with processors stocking up in readiness for the green feed season.

A mixed quality trade weight yearling steer and heifer offering, coupled with a weaker local trade and feeder demand created marginally lower averages with most sales lower by 2 to 3c/kg lwt. The tight supplies of heavy weight steers, bullocks and heifers is finally having an effect on competition with all three realising solid demand and values. The heavy weight cow market also enjoyed a similar solid trade demand that ensured similar values to the previous week.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Easter restricts throughput

Supply at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards plummeted 51% compared to the previous week. The shorter week leading up to Easter restricted yardings considerably across the majority of markets. The closure of several Thursday saleyards also influenced the declining numbers as 4 markets did not operate. Scattered showers in northern and southern NSW also had implications for throughput as cattle movement was restricted and producers opting to hold on. The declining prices the previous week also had implications for yardings this week as graziers hold on for optimistic price rises. The shorter slaughter week restricted processor activity and demand which encouraged smaller yardings as producers hold out till full operating weeks to lift demand.

Young cattle made up the majority of yardings as grown steers and bullock numbers eased considerably. Cows were in reasonable supply and overall quality slipped as plain unfinished cattle made up the largest percentage of offerings. The drop in quality saw rates cheaper across the board; however strengthen for the limited number of well finished quality lines. Restockers and feeders were relatively active on young cattle which encouraged the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) to improve 2¢ from the end of last week to 314.25¢/kg cwt.

Direct to slaughter rates held firm from the previous week, however one processor dropped cow rates, influencing an overall cheaper trend. With a number of contributors looking to bring prices back as the A$ remains high, tighter supplies as we move into shorter weeks, along with the lack of suitable lines encouraged rates to remain the same.

Rates improve for young but slip for grown

Calves improved in value as restocker lines lifted 6c to range between 150¢ to 192¢/kg. Lightweight C muscled vealer steers improved in value as rates ranged from 156¢ to 200¢ to average close to 190¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers improved 7¢ to 169¢ whilst heavyweight C3’s ranged from155¢ to 205¢/kg. Lightweight C muscled yearling steers to restockers sold from 145¢ to 185¢ to average 168¢/kg. The medium weights improved 8¢ to 171¢ whilst heavyweights to feeders ranged from 148¢ to 170¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feeders improved 4¢ to range between 138¢ to 168¢ and average of 151¢/kg.

The limited supply of grown cattle witnessed medium weight grown steers range between 140¢ and 159¢ to average 153¢/kg for C2 feeder lines. Bullocks eased in value as rates ranged between 146¢ and 167¢ to average 158c/kg. Medium weight C3 grown heifers lost 6c to average 141¢ with a top of 157¢/kg. Lightweight D1 cows sold from 60¢ to 101¢ with an average of 87¢/kg. Medium weight D3’s sold to 124¢ to average 4¢ cheaper at 108¢/kg. The D3’s ranged from 100¢ to 131¢ to average close to 120¢/kg. Heavyweight D4’s slipped 1¢ to 128¢ with a top of 139¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A dramatic drop in supply

A combination of the short working week and scattered showers in some of the supply areas, along with Longreach being absent from the selling program, resulted in supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS falling dramatically by 62% from last week. Overall quality was mixed with the general slip in the standard of steers and bullocks, and there were increased numbers of cows in the lower fat score ranges. Young cattle are also starting to suffer a slip in quality with most suitable to restockers or feeder operators. Not all the usual export buyers were present at early week markets nevertheless there was good representation of restocker and feeder operators. However by midweek at Dalby a full panel of export buyers were in attendance and operating. Values across all markets for the week experienced some improvement in places. Calves gained 3¢ to 9¢/kg due to extra support from the trade as well as restockers. Following the lift in yearling steers to feed the previous week values generally remained fully firm while the short supply of trade descriptions gained 3¢/kg. The trend of lacklustre competition on the yearling heifers in previous week’s turnaround with the majority of classes gaining 4¢ to 7¢/kg, with both feeder and slaughter grades in demand.

Medium weight grown steers to feed for the export slaughter market continued to rise in value with increases of 4¢ to 6¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter at Dalby improved by 3¢/kg however the heavy steers and bullocks across all markets remained very solid in value. A similar trend developed in the cow sections, with some classes experiencing a small lift in price.

Young cattle generally dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 3¢ better at 167¢ and restocker grades lifted 9¢ to average close to 190¢ with sales to 227.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to restockers mostly sold around 186¢, and a few B muscle lines reached 214.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 5¢ dearer at 166¢ with the occasional heavy grade to the local butchers reaching 195.2¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed generally averaged just under 170¢ with a few to 178.2¢/kg. Heavy trade descriptions made to 184.6¢ with most sales at 171¢/kg. A fair supply of yearling heifers improved in price with feeder grades 6¢ dearer at 157¢, and slaughter grades 4¢ better at 160¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed gained 4¢ to average 169¢ with some pen lots reaching 178.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter remained fully firm at 160¢ with sales to 176.6¢/kg. Bullocks made to top of 172.2¢ to remain unchanged in value at 157¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged close to 117¢ and 3 scores 127¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 146.2¢ with most sales around 135¢/kg.

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