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 26 June 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Quality effects demand

There were basically two sides to cattle sales with young cattle mostly selling at unchanged rates, while grown cattle sold to dearer trends at most sales. Overall, the supply of cattle was lower with both trade and export cattle falling in number. However, this scenario was more market to market, than a blanket trend over the state. Sales of young cattle were firm to dearer in Gippsland, and unchanged to cheaper at other sales. However, quality changes had a reasonable effect on prices rather than demand. The best indicator is of this is represented by the MLA’s Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) figure, which was only 0.25c above last week at 335.00c/kg cwt. Demand from lot feeders for suitable steers and heifers continued to shape market trends, as their direct interaction with trade buyers assisted in setting the trend.

Grown cattle price trends were a different basket, as demand was stronger for all classes. This saw grown steers, bullocks, cows and bulls sell to dearer trends. Considering one major South Australian abattoir shut for annual maintenance this week, bullock prices were anticipated to be lower. Cows were also dearer, with the only exception being Shepparton, as buyers tried to make up for a very dear sale there the previous week by reducing rates. Neither overseas trade, nor the value of the A$ has changed greatly, however prices rose 2c to 8c/kg. A smaller supply of grown cattle must have been the catalyst to trigger price trends going against the odds. These dearer trends also conflict with those of other states.

Grown cattle dearer

This is the in-between time of the year for vealer production and at most sales the supply is very small. At all of the sales reported by MLA’s NLRS they made up less than 10% of supply. Prices for most vealers were between 160c and 200c with the top price being 236c/kg. Pakenham and Bairnsdale sales supplied the larger number of top quality vealers, and these markets also had a good supply of supplementary fed yearlings. Prices for these were from 190c to 235c/kg. Grass finished yearlings sold well if the quality was good, making between 150c and 190c/kg. Producers of heavy yearlings and grown steers, along with bullocks faired very well with the higher prices of 180c to 194c/kg out pricing a lot of young cattle.

Even though cow prices varied between saleyards most trends were dearer, which created a carcass weight price average estimated to be 273c/kg. However, quite a number of cows made a lot closer to 300c/kg carcass weight. Live-weight prices for better quality cows were between 130c and 155c, and a lot of the leaner cows best suiting the 90CL US market made from 110c to 138c/kg. Heavy bulls made between 125c and 170c/kg for reasonable to very good quality.

SA weekly cattle summary

Smaller yardings

It was expected that prices and numbers may retreat with a processor being out of the equation for the next 5 to 6 weeks. However, with a magnificent quality yarding of supplementary fed yearlings at the SA LE which attracted a dearer trend due to an additional Victorian buyer being present and a strong Keith order also assisting prices to dearer levels. Feeder orders were also active and sourced a large consignment of Angus vealer steers up to 206¢/kg. The supplementary fed yearling steers sold mainly from 185¢ to 200¢, with the heifer portion, even though many were starting to show too much condition commanding prices between 180¢ to 192¢/kg. Cow prices fluctuated with the softer competition and were generally cheaper, although where one Victorian sourced those suitable to his requirements they sold at dearer levels.

Naracoorte’s numbers fell and included mixed quality runs that featured fewer supplementary feds. While some categories were slightly cheaper, the smaller numbers tended to sell to solid trade, processor, feeder and restocker competition from the usual buying fraternity. There were some high and interesting prices paid for D2 vealer heifers by feeders and restockers. Cow prices remained buoyant despite the absent SE processor, as most 3 to 5 score beef cows maintained recent prices.

While quality slipped on Mt. Gambier’s smaller yarding, most categories attracted solid competition with only cows being mainly cheaper. Grown steer numbers fell below 140 head in perhaps a sign that there are not that many prime steers left until the warmer spring weather arrives.

Fluctuating trends

With only one more sale before the end of the financial year, most vealer steers finished with feeder and restocker orders between 155¢ and 200¢ at rates 2¢ to 8¢/kg less. Limited trade and local butcher purchases ranged from 175¢ to 209¢/kg. Vealer heifer sales were 2¢ to 14¢ dearer to trade, feeder and restocker activity on runs of mainly D muscled light heifers. These generally sold from 135¢ to 190¢, with B muscled sales to 214¢kg to the trade. Most light and medium weight yearling steers finished with feeder and restocker orders between 154¢ and 205¢ at rates 3¢ to 11¢/kg dearer. Prime 3 score steers to the trade sold between 180¢ and 206¢, with some sales 2¢ to 7¢ lower and others 3¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer C3 prices were generally 1¢ to 10¢ dearer selling from 162¢ to 204¢, with D3 sales 3¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper ranging between 134¢ and 158¢/kg.

Grown steer prices remained solid despite the absent processor, with C3 and C4 steer and bullock sales 174¢ to 190¢, or around a 340¢/kg cwt average. Prices were generally 1¢ to 8¢ cheaper on most 3 to 5 scores beef cows that sold between 118¢ and 151¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Seasonal fortunes rise

The southwest corner of WA recorded further good falls of rain over the past week with several fronts having crossed the coast. Further to this forecasts have predicted more rainfall until at least the middle of next week. There was also limited falls in the pastoral north of the state which will help those that have been struggling in and around the Gascoyne catchment. The dry conditions in the Gascoyne have seen some pastoralists begin mustering early as a lack of feed pressurised the situation. This saw the majority of Midland’s yarding made up of mixed quality pastoral heifers and cows. The supplies of locally produced cattle shrunk with the Great Southern’s sale having considerably lower supplies which agents have reported will continue over the short term as seasonal fortunes have now improved. This has also impacted the supplies being forwarded into southwest saleyards. The numbers of heavy weight steers and heifers continued to be very restricted as were the numbers of grass and grain finished trade weight yearling steers and heifers were also restricted but remained in line with what has been seen in recent weeks. Store grades remained plentiful but despite the healthy availability of numbers restocker and feeder demand continued reasonably firmly.

Cow numbers continued to be reasonable in saleyards driven by the recent strong trade demand. Trade demand was recorded at similar levels this week, while live export interest remained conservative and generally restricted to light weight bull categories.

Cow values remain steady

There were slightly larger numbers of vealers penned this week and these continued to be predominately of lightweight calf weights. Demand from the local trade and retailer sectors remained very strong with little or change realised in rates. Trade weight grass finished yearlings were again reasonably well supported by the local trade and feeders with rates in line with recent week’s quotes. Grain finished yearlings received solid local processor inquiry with market rates marginally dearer at both major markets. Medium and heavy weight store heifers and steers realised a slightly more selective feeder inquiry this week and this saw values falls marginally from the increased levels of the previous week. Lightweight drafts on the other hand enjoyed a more aggressive inquiry from the restocker sector which created rate rises of up to 10c/kg lwt now that green feed supplies have been assured. Heavy weight steer and bullock supplies were minimal and little or no change was recorded in trade demand or values.

Heavy weight mature heifers values were also stable with supplies again limited. The cow market began the week at higher levels with most rates dearer by 3c/kg lwt, but this demand diminished as the week progressed finishing at equal values.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Supply begins to retreat

Yardings across NSW MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards decreased considerably from the previous week with a 28% reduction in numbers. All markets contributed to the trend as scattered showers across the majority of NSW encouraged several producers to hold onto available numbers. Also contributing to the trend has been the slowing down of winter turnoff as available supplies begin to ease. As a result Dubbo yarded 44% fewer cattle followed by a 39% and 27% reduction at both CTLX and Casino.

As numbers begin to deteriorate, all categories encouraged the trend with vealer steers witnessing the greatest fall in throughput of 30% from the previous week. This fall in numbers mostly influenced the restocker sector with a 37% decline in numbers returning to the paddock. This has to do with a general improvement in quality and strong competition from the feed and slaughter sectors. Yearling steer numbers fell 17% which once again inflicted a 37% reduction in those to restockers. Grown steer throughput subsided 16% from the previous markets which predominantly initiated a 9% slump in those to slaughter. Feeders were also significantly less active as steers to feed lot orders plummeted. Cow yardings fell by a similar amount which predominantly affected processors with 17% less going to slaughter.

The quality of the offering continues to be mixed however there has been a notable rise in the number of well finished quality lines. With the slight improvement in quality and a reduction in overall numbers prices improved across the board, both in physical markets, the slaughter and feedlot sectors.

Prices continue to improve

Prices generally improved across the board for all weights and categories. Lightweight C2 vealer steers returning to the paddock improved 1¢ to average 184¢ with sales to 203¢/kg. Similar lines to feeder orders lifted a further 9¢ to range from 162¢ to 196¢/kg. A good run of medium weight C2 vealer heifers to slaughter sold to a dearer trend to average 167¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers ranged from 148¢ to 204¢ while medium weights to feeders averaged 177¢ with sales to 196¢/kg. A good run of quality heavyweights to slaughter improved 4¢ to average close to 182¢ while heifers to similar orders sold to a top of 187¢ to average 167¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers ranged from 145¢ to 183¢ while heavyweight C3’s improved 4¢ – to 169¢/kg. Well finished quality bullocks improved 3¢ to 5¢ to range from 150¢ to 185¢/kg. Medium weight heifers to slaughter ranged from 135¢ to 175¢ with most sales around 158¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows lifted 2¢ – to 119¢ while the 3 scores averaged 124¢ with sales to 142¢/kg. A good run of heavyweights improved 1¢ in value to make 118¢ to 154¢ with most sales around 136¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Lower year to date yardings

Saleyard numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported markets remained similar to last week and on par with the same time last year. The last week of the financial year is normally influenced by the producers making tax based decisions as much as market conditions when considering whether to sell. Dalby has been yarding higher numbers when compared to the same time last year whilst the markets closer to the coast where there has been rainfall and a good season are penning lower numbers for this time of the year.

Year to date saleyard numbers paint an interesting picture which appear to reflect seasonal conditions that have been experienced this year. Longreach has yarded close to half the number of cattle than during the first six months of last year. A combination of wet weather, improved seasonal conditions, lower turnoffs and higher restocking, along with some cattle being sold in other areas, has all contributed to the lower numbers. Whether there will be higher numbers turned off during spring than in recent years or more weight in the cattle sold is yet to be seen. Comparatively, there has been more numbers sold at Dalby, where yardings increased 22% year-on-year. Toowoomba’s numbers were lower with the main decline being at the Elders sale, with Landmark’s afternoon sale increasing in size. Warwick, Mareeba and Murgon were similar while Moreton throughput fell 11% compared to the first half of 2008.

The quality of the cattle yarded across the state has been good with some well conditioned runs of heavy yearlings, grown steers and bullocks at Dalby and some good weaners and calves at Warwick.

Mixed price trends

A fair run of calves were penned with an almost even split between slaughter and restocker purchases in a range from 169¢ to 174¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers were medium weights purchased by restockers at around 182¢ to be 6¢ cheaper, with isolated sales to 214.2¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter averaged 168¢, to go against the falling market, finishing 3¢/kg dearer. Yearlings dominated the young cattle as light and medium weight feeders were close to firm in making around 174¢/kg. The few medium weight C3 yearling steers topped at 203.6¢ to average closer to 173¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers met good enquiry to average 176¢/kg. Light restocking yearling heifers sold around 167¢ as medium feeder lines averaged 163¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers lost 3¢ to 160.5¢ while the good C4 heavy weights were 7¢ dearer at 177¢/kg. Bullocks also recorded a good gain after selling to 185.6¢ to average 177¢/kg. Light cows were generally cheaper while medium and heavy weights sold to good demand be firm to dearer. Medium weight D3s sold around 127¢ as heavy D4s made closer to 171¢/kg. The top of the heavy cows made to 159.6¢/kg.

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