Australia Weekly Cattle Summary

Meat and Livestock Australia reports a fall in cattle supplies in most states across Australia with only Queensland report numbers up in their weeklu cattle summary.
calendar icon 17 July 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Western Australia Supply Slips

Supply across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards dropped 11 per cent with a significant reduction in numbers at Great Southern Saleyard. Following on from previous falls of rain, a cold wet front across the south restricted throughput, influencing the overall reduced yarding.

Good moisture and showers across Great Southern’s supply areas saw numbers drop back to half the previous sale. Going against the trend however was a 10% increase in numbers at the Midland sale. The larger market was heavily influenced by an influx of pastoral cattle despite limited numbers of local bred cattle.

The smaller state supply was heavily impacted by a significant reduction in the number of young cattle penned with basically no vealers yarded. A 41% reduction in yearling steers came to market with significantly less going to both restockers and feeders.

Grown steer supply was again very limited with most going to slaughter. Going against the trend was an influx in cows onto the market as supplies jumped 59 per cent on last week. This significant lift in numbers was heavily influenced by the surge of pastoral cows onto the market which entailed the majority of the cow sale.

The quality of cattle continued to be generally poor with limited supplies of trade cattle offered. The majority of cattle lacked finish as the cool winter conditions continue to impact. Despite the lack of finished lines, prices lifted across the majority of categories. Strong competition by the three live exporters and a lack of numbers were the main determinants.

Prices Improve

Lightweight yearling steer destined to feeders improved in value as price generally sold around 175¢/kg. Plain lightweights suitable for restocking sold to a top of 180¢ to average close to 159¢/kg. A good run of supplementary fed heavyweights sold around 170¢ to top at 179¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feeders sold to a dearer trend as prices reached 164¢ while an influx of pastoral heifers averaged 101¢ with sales to 125¢/kg. Heavyweight heifers returning to the paddock also improved in value to average close to 145¢/kg.

The limited supply of finished grown steer allowed feeders to be active on the medium weights with sales averaging 139¢/kg. However the majority of grown steers offered were generally heavyweights as prices averaged close to 148¢/kg. Medium weight D3 grown heifers sold to a top of 135¢ to average 129¢ while heavyweights to restockers sold around 159¢/kg. An influx of lightweight pastoral cows improved considerably to average close to 181¢/kg. A large run of medium weight D2 pastoral cows sold to 119¢ with most sales around 99¢/kg. The majority of heavyweight cows went to slaughter with D3’s averaging 128¢ while the 4 scores sold to 136¢ to average 139¢/kg.

Victoria Yarding Decline

Markets trends were mixed, complicated by quality variations, but a fall of 30 per cent in the supply of cattle into MLA’s NLRS reported sales certainly had a big effect as some sales. Gippsland markets recorded some quite high price increases with strong demand also influenced by the return of a major exporter to the buying fraternity.

The heavy falls of rain across Victoria hindered any chance of a reasonable yarding in the state with a 43 per cent reduction at Pakenham and a 42 per cent drop at Wodonga over the first half of July. The overall lack of supply generally influenced firm to dearer trends at most sales. However, Shepparton and Warrnambool went against the trend, selling cheaper, due to plainer quality.

The short supply did spark stronger demand both form the trade and feedlots. This had a positive impact on the EYCI which climbed 3.75¢ to 339.50¢/kg cwt.

Generally, grown steer, bullock and cow prices were a little dearer however, at Leongatha and to a small extent Bairnsdale, extra competition improved prices as much as 15¢ for steers and 12¢/kg for cows. Improving trends for very lean bull beef, and again strong competition in Gippsland, assisted price increases of up to 24¢/kg for suitable bulls.

Part of this was due to processors struggling to fill their day’s slaughter. There are a number of processors that are not working a full week in order to compensate for current meat demand. This however is leading to the issue in keeping a skilled workforce available to run the plant when supply and demand potentially improves.

Feeders Active

The strength of feedlot buyers was responsible for good competition for young steers and heifers and this can be highlighted at Pakenham where they purchased 45% of a yarding. Most steers and heifers made between 165¢ and 201¢/kg. There were some very good quality vealers to slaughter making to 231¢ and equally as good grain finished yearlings sold to 230¢/kg. The bulk of the vealers and yearlings purchased by the trade made between 160¢ and 200¢/kg, while the plain cattle ranged from 120¢ to 165¢/kg.

Varying exchange rates, improving overseas prices and a general lack of numbers assisted in lifting grown steer, bullock, cow and bull prices by around 5¢/kg with processors capturing the majority of the market. The strong competition at Leongatha caused numerous pens of grown steers and bullocks to sell from 188¢ to 197¢/kg. Other markets varied from 165¢ to 185¢/kg.

Quality was generally quite poor at all cow sales, which kept the carcass weight price average around 282¢/kg. Better quality cows made from 135¢ to 162¢/kg as the remainder ranged from 100¢ to 137¢/kg. A big surge in bull prices saw the best A and B muscle bulls make from 160¢ to 197¢/kg.

Queensland - A Small Lift in Supply

The supply of stock at markets in southern areas generally eased from the high levels of the previous week. However Longreach recorded the largest yarding so far for the year lifting overall numbers recorded at physical markets by MLA’s NLRS by eight per cent.

Overall quality in the south remains mixed with young cattle showing the effects of the winter conditions, while the standard in the north was fair to good and improved on the previous week. A fair number of calves came forward across all markets and restockers were able to absorb the supply available and maintained prices at a firm level. The trend of strong demand from restockers flowed onto vealer steers and values experienced a small rise. Despite the supply of vealer heifers increasing 36% prices generally improved by 2¢ to 7¢/kg with stronger support from southern processors on slaughter grades combined with some restocker demand on the remainder. Feeder grades of yearling steers improved 4¢/kg, and additional supermarket competition on slaughter grades prices also gained a similar amount. Yearling heifers experienced a lift of 22 per cent in supply and feeder grades attracted very strong demand and climbed in value by 15¢/kg. Supermarket competition was also noticeable on the slaughter grades and average prices lifted accordingly.

Heavy steer and bullock prices commence the week on a firm to stronger trend and continued as the week progressed, with 2 and 4 tooths receiving the strongest demand. Cow values struggled to remain firm at markets early in the week nevertheless by midweek average prices generally lifted with the light condition grades pushed on by strong restocker demand.

Most Classes Dearer

Calves to restockers remained firm at 193c with sales to 213.2¢ and trade lines gained 4¢ to average 155¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock made to 219.2¢ to average 4¢ better at 199¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade improved 2¢ to average close to 166¢ and restocker grades 177¢ with a select few to local butchers reaching 203.2¢/kg. A large sample of lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers at 182¢ and medium weight feeder descriptions averaged 3¢ to 4¢ dearer with most in the mid to high 170¢/kg range. Local trade lines also improved 4¢ to average 177¢ and some certified grainfeds averaged 193¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 15¢ dearer at 173¢ with sales to 184.2¢, and heavyweight slaughter lines mostly sold around 3¢ better at 174¢/kg.

A relatively small selection of medium weight grown steers to feed sold 3¢ dearer at 173¢ with some to 181.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 178¢, while a good sample of bullocks made from 166¢ to 187.2¢ to improve 1¢ to average 177¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows generally sold around 115¢ and 3 scores improved 4¢ to average 130¢/kg. Good heavy cows gained 2¢ to average 141¢ with a few sales to 153.2¢/kg.

New South Wales Diminishing Supplies

Cattle availability across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards eased 7% with a number of markets yarding fewer head. Despite this trend, several centres recorded increased numbers as improved prices attracted numbers and the winter sell off continues. Casino and Tamworth both yarded 28 per cent and 27 per cent fewer head respectively contributing to the overall smaller yarding. However, several producers continue to offload cattle, keen to capture current prices and clean up herds which encouraged a 17% lift in CTLX throughput.

Reasonable feed across the state combined with recent rain in the south has caused several producers to hold onto stock. The improved season has also allowed several producers to start placing cattle on crops in order to add finish and potential price gains.

The lower throughput levels were heavily influenced by a 15 per cent reduction in vealer steers offered. All buying sectors felt the effect as less went to the respective orders. Yearling steer supply held relatively stable to the previous week however feeders and restockers were less active while processors upped the ante. Yearling heifers went against the overall trend with an 18 per cent lift in supply which was captured by restockers, feeders and processors. Grown steer yardings dropped 19 per cent with all buying sectors feeling the effects. A 12 per cent reduction in cows to market restricted processors as significantly less went to slaughter.

The quality of cattle continues to be mixed with a large percentage suitable for restocking or feeder requirements. Despite this trend, there have been pens of supplementary fed or cattle finished on crops with the result of improving overall condition and finish.

Prices Edge Higher

Plain conditioned lightweight vealer steers returning to the paddock sold to a top of 206¢ while a large sample of medium weight C2’s to restockers averaged 189¢/kg. Processors were active on medium weight C2 vealer heifers as prices averaged 174¢ with sales to 192¢ while those to restockers improved 2¢ to 167¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 179¢ with sales to 200¢ while medium weights to feed averaged 184¢/kg. A good line up of well finished heavyweights to slaughter generally sold around 184¢/kg to hold firm. Medium weight heifers purchased by feeders improved 3c to average 171c/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter sold to 200¢ to average close to 177¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers purchased by feeders improved 3¢ to range from 155¢ to 182¢/kg. Good quality heavyweight C3’s to slaughter held firm at 172¢ while well finished bullocks averaged 171¢ with sales to 186¢/kg. Medium weight grown heifers destined to slaughter sold to 185¢ to average close to 160¢/kg. Lightweight D2 cows generally sold around 110¢ while medium weight 3 scores held firm to average 128¢/kg. Heavyweight 3 and 4 scores sold to a top of 150¢ to average close to 135¢/kg.

South Australia Numbers Retreat

Whether it has been the useful heavy rainfall over the past weekend, or numbers are on the decline, there were definitely smaller yardings. The SA LE penned around a third less cattle while Naracoorte’s numbers declined again. Mt. Gambier’s yarding followed the trend to also be reduced by around 20 per cent. Millicent for their fortnightly sale could only muster 176 head.

The SA LE’s yarding featured a few drafts of prime supplementary feds that sold to strong wholesale competition; and were supported by principally poor quality cattle that featured some lines of pastoral bred cattle that failed to arouse too much interest. Local butchers and wholesalers were keen to source the small number of vealers penned at dearer levels. Yearling sales to a mixture of orders were spread over a wide range of prices due to the varying quality offered. A small yarding of cows failed to raise much enthusiasm, as most 2 to 3 scores sold from 117¢ to 126¢/kg.

Vealer steers and cows were generally dearer at Naracoorte, while other categories were mainly cheaper due to the soft competition from the usual buying fraternity. Many D muscled supplementary fed yearling heifers looked like as though they were pastoral bred, older and HGP treated that left only a couple of buyers sourcing those pens. Cow prices were mainly dearer, while bull prices eased further.

Mt. Gambier’s sale was generally dearer due to an improvement in quality, although medium weighted grown steers were slightly cheaper. Cows also attracted strong Victorian processor competition.

Most Categories Dearer

Vealer steers in limited numbers to the trade and local butchers sold from 187¢ to 210¢, with isolated B muscled sales to 227¢, or 11¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders paid from 180¢ to 200¢ at rates 3¢ to 15¢/kg more. Trade purchases of vealer heifers were generally 4¢ to 5¢ dearer, although C3 heavy heifers were 1¢/kg cheaper as they sold from 185¢ to 219¢/kg. Feeder and restocker activity left their sales ranging from 141¢ to 186¢ due to the varying quality available. Yearling steer C3 prices to the trade were 1¢ cheaper ranging from 162¢ to 205¢/kg. Feeder orders sourced most C1 and C2 steers between 163¢ and 192¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales varied, with C3 prices 1¢ dearer between 160¢ and 188¢ and supplementary feds up to 204¢/kg. However, D3 sales were 5¢ to 6¢ cheaper selling from 142¢ to 164¢/kg.

Grown steers were 1¢ to 2¢ cheaper, while heavy C4 bullocks were 8¢ dearer as most sales ranged between 176¢ and 190¢, and averaged around 340¢/kg cwt. Cows were generally 1¢ to 7¢ dearer with 3 to 5 scores selling from 126¢ to 153¢, or mainly a 265¢ to 300¢/kg cwt price range.

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