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 31 July 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Mixed quality

Cattle supply was unchanged on last week, at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Generally it was a good week for producers, but created further headaches for processors who are still finding it hard to shift some meat products.

Prices for vealers and yearlings realised dearer trends, but it was another small increment with increases mostly in the 2¢ to 5¢/kg cwt. This was driven by competition between trade buyers and feedlots, and a lack of good quality.

While young cattle, grown steers and bullocks were generally dearer, cow prices fluctuated between markets, and most sales of bulls were cheaper.

Quality remains an issue, which is why there were some extremes in competition, and this was particularly evident at Pakenham and Wodonga. There was the return of and export processors, having re-opened after their annual maintenance closure. This assisted export prices to range firm and even sell to dearer levels at some sales. Given the slowly increasing value of the A$, which is impacting on processor margins, the demand was very solid with all works trying to keep their respective work forces employed.

One exception to all of this was bull sales. After a couple of weeks where competition was quite fierce, demand settled and prices were quite a bit cheaper.

There is strong over the hooks trade at the present with processors offering up to 380¢/kg cwt for the best young cattle. The top end of the grown steers and bullocks range from 350¢ to 365¢/kg cwt.

Prices start to rise

There was some extreme competition for top quality vealers and supplementary fed yearlings which allowed prices of 243¢ to be achieved at Wodonga for vealers, and 245¢/kg for yearlings at Pakenham. While these were isolated sales, there were a good number of very good quality young cattle that made from 200¢ to 235¢/kg. While there was a fairly large run of C muscle vealers and yearlings that sold between 165¢ and 215¢/kg, which included purchases by processors, feedlots and restockers. The EYCI at the completion of Thursday’s markets lifted 1.25¢ on last week to reach 344.25¢/kg cwt.

Grown steer and bullock prices edged higher with a very good sale at Leongatha seeing numerous pens make between 188¢ and 197¢/kg. Across the state, most of the C3 and C4 grown steers and bullocks made around 190c/kg.

Cow prices were generally either side of last week’s prices with better quality cows ranging from 135¢ to 157¢/kg. The heavy lean cows sold from 115¢ to 147¢/kg. Bull prices fell by as much as 16¢, as heavy bulls made from 130¢ to 182¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

A low but similar sized yarding was offered at the SA LE and featured mixed quality runs that sold to fluctuating demand, with one major processor back in action again after their long maintenance break, while an interstate operator was absent. The yarding featured a few large consignments of plain quality pastoral cattle that sold reasonably well for their breeding. The few vealers penned sold to wholesale and local butcher orders, while feeder orders sourced light and medium weight yearling steers at fluctuating rates. Yearling heifers to the trade were generally cheaper, while feeder purchases varied. Small numbers of grown steers and heifers also failed to maintain recent levels, while 85 cows attracted a mainly dearer trend.

Naracoorte’s larger yarding sold to solid trade and processor competition even though a major interstate buyer was absent. However, feeder and restocker orders were very active, particularly on well bred Angus and Murray Grey lightweight steers and heifers in the open auction sale. These sold to some unbelievable prices, particularly to restocker inquiry. With a major South East processor back in operation grown steer and cow prices remained basically unchanged before they resume operations next Monday.

Mt. Gambier’s slightly reduced numbers sold to strong SA, NSW and Victorian competition at generally dearer levels. This was predominately due to quality improving on most categories, even though the A$ remains high.

With the improving prices, Millicent agents yarded a much larger yarding for their fortnightly sale, and featured improved quality runs of young cattle and cows.

Most categories dearer

While the SA LE was generally cheaper, the South Eastern markets were dearer. Vealer steers to feeder and restocker interests sold from 162¢ to 196¢ at rates 4¢/kg cheaper. Limited trade purchases ranged from 182¢ to 210¢/kg at basically unchanged rates. Vealer heifer sales to the trade were also from 182¢ to 210¢ at prices 5¢ to 6¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders sourced a wide range of quality between 158¢ and 188¢/kg. Yearling steers sold from 2¢ dearer and 3¢ cheaper, with C3 sales generally from 165¢ to 203¢/kg. Feeder and restocker purchases of C2 steers ranged from 159¢ to 200¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales were erratic, with C3 sales in the South East mainly 3¢ dearer, while being around 7¢/kg less at the SA LE. Most C3 sales ranged between 160¢ and 190¢, with D3 sales 136¢ to 175¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers were 2¢ cheaper, while being 2¢ to 3¢ dearer on heavyweights, with the majority selling between 178¢ and 200¢, and averaged around 345¢/kg cwt. Cow prices varied from unchanged to 7¢ dearer, and 1¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper with most 3 to 5 score beef cows selling from 135¢ to 156¢, or 275¢ to 305¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

State supply accumulates

Supply across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards lifted 8% with both markets recording greater numbers. Great Southern Saleyard yarded significantly more numbers which was the main contributor to the overall trend. Supply at Midland lifted a further 4% as pastoral cattle continue to enter the market combined with an influx of bulls. Supply areas have begun to dry off after the previous weeks good falls of rain, encouraging producers to offload.

The supply of yearlings has held relatively stable on last week however there has been an increased number of pastoral cattle and a reduction in those going to restockers. Yearling heifers on the other hand managed to pen 24% more numbers with feeders capturing a greater percentage.

The supply of grown heifers plummeted on last week with less than half yarded. Grown steer supply continues to remain tight while an influx of manufactured steers entered the market with the majority capture by slaughter.

Cows continue to dominate the yardings, however 5% less were yarded with a drop in pastoral cattle throughput. Despite there being a lift in the number of lightweight cows yarded, the supply of both medium and heavyweights diminished considerably. Significantly more bulls were yarded with both feeders and the live export sourcing greater percentages.

The quality of cattle continues to be mixed with a good percentage of pastoral cattle still entering the market. However, quality improved in the young cattle section with a growing number of finished cattle with several being supplementary fed or off crop.

Dearer price trend

Lightweight yearling steers improved in value to average close to 174¢ with sales to 191¢/kg. Similar lines of pastoral cattle ranged from 100¢ to 147¢ with the majority of sales around 126¢/kg. A good sample of heavyweight grain fed cattle also improved in value to average 190¢ with sales to 197¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feeders sold to a top of 153¢ while restockers improved 1¢ to settle at 137¢/kg. The small supply of grain fed heavyweights also sold to a dearer trend as sales reached 185¢/kg.

The limited supply of grown steers sold to a top of 178¢ with most sales around 153¢/kg. Plain D3 grown heifers averaged close to 120¢ while the 4 scores sold to a top of 150¢/kg. The greater supply of manufacturing steers saw D3’s generally sell between 138¢ to 148¢/kg.

A large run of lightweight pastoral cows sold to a dearer trend with prices reaching 108¢/kg. Medium weight D3’s to slaughter averaged close to 120¢ while heavyweight 3 and 4 scores generally sold between 126¢ to 128¢/kg. A good supply of lightweight bulls destined to the live export sold around 143¢ with sales to 181¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

State supply tightens

Cattle number across MLA’s NRLS reported saleyards eased 8% with the majority of markets yarding fewer head. Supply at both Armidale and Tamworth decreased by 40%, with CTLX also experiencing a significant drop in numbers. The fall in throughput comes as the winter turn off period softens and state supply tightens. The generally improved season enhanced feed availability and the number of good feed crops. Evidently, graziers have been tempted to hold onto available numbers with a growing proportion gaining access to crops and cheap grain supplies.

Predominately vealer steers and yearling heifer numbers tightened, with supply dropping 18% and 16% respectively. Significantly smaller numbers of vealer steers went to restockers, while processors became more active. Yearling steers remained firm with all buying sectors capturing similar numbers. Grown steers and cow supply held relatively stable to the previous week.

Once again the quality of the cattle offered was mixed, with yearlings making up a large percentage of yardings. The high number of good feed crops and low grain prices saw a good supply of crop and grain finished cattle across the state.

The current tight supply of cattle has seen the majority of processors holding rates steady while a few lifted prices further in an effort to attract greater numbers. However the high Australian dollar has continued to cause problems for the processing sector, with several reducing slaughter days. Along with the tight supply, the good quality of some cattle has encouraged a dearer trend. Likewise only a few feed lots lifted prices, while the bulk holding rates unchanged.

Prices continue to edge higher

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to slaughter improved 5¢ in value to average close to 189¢ while those to restockers mostly sold around 192¢ with sales to 219¢/kg. Similar lines of vealer heifers improved 2¢ in value to 171¢ while those to slaughter sold to a top of 199¢/kg. Feeders were active on medium weight yearling steers which drove prices to 204¢ while heavyweight 3 scores to processors averaged close to 187¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers generally went to feed lots as values improved 6¢ to settle at 173¢/kg. A good sample of heavyweight 3 scores sold to a top of 195¢ with the majority of sales around 178¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers finished 5¢ dearer at 175¢ while the heavyweights sold to a top of 196¢/kg. A good run of 4 score bullocks mostly sold around 170¢ with sales reaching 189¢/kg. Processors were active on medium weight 3 score grown heifers which encouraged a dearer price trend. As a result, values generally ranged from 140¢ to 185¢ to average close to 173¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows lifted 2¢ in value with sales reaching 140¢/kg. The heavyweight 3 and 4 scores averaged between 136¢ to 138¢ as sales reached 155¢/kg. Generally these cows held firm to 1¢/kg dearer.

Qld weekly cattle summary

Supply increases

The very good growth in crop and pasture conditions experienced across most areas of the state in recent months has started to slow down. Heavy frosts has taken their toll on pastures, and with a number of dry weather changes moving through cereal crops are starting to need a top up in moisture. Most districts still have fair to good subsoil moisture and only small amounts of rain is needed to finish grain crops and keep forage oats crops on the move.

The trend to a tightening in seasonal conditions influenced the flow of stock into the saleyards with numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS lifting 34%. The supply of stock at Longreach was the highest since this time last year and numbers at Dalby continued to climb.

Overall quality across the state was again mixed with increased numbers of plain condition young cattle penned and in some centres this trend also flowed onto the cow sections with larger numbers of lightweight grades in the lower fat score ranges.

Despite the increase in supply and a drop in the overall standard values managed to improve in places especially for the lightweight grades. Feeder operators continued to maintain a very solid base in both yearling and grown classes, with any downward price changes due to the difference in quality from the previous week.

Export grades commence the week on a strong trend and by midweek values managed to improve by a few cents. Cows dominated the grown categories and prices at Dalby picked up the previous weeks losses.

Calves to restockers dearer

A large number of calves returned to the paddock up to 14¢ dearer at 192¢ with sales to 220¢, and trade descriptions averaged 8¢ better at 180¢/kg. Feeder operators purchased a good sample of vealer steers at 190¢, while those returning to the paddock made to a top of 206.2¢ with most close to 191¢/kg. Regardless of the large supply of vealer heifers to the trade values remained close to firm at 177¢ with a handful to butchers making to 196.2¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling steers to feed generally sold in the high 170¢/kg range and heavyweights 181¢ with sales to 187¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 170¢ and 162¢ respectively,while heavyweights to the trade remained unchanged in value at 174¢ with sales to 193.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers sold to feeder operators 7¢ dearer at 180¢ with some to 185.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 4¢ better at 180¢, while bullocks across all markets improved 1¢ to average 179¢ with a few pens reaching 189.6¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 114¢ and 3 scores 128¢/kg. Good heavy cows experienced a small improvement to average 141¢ the occasional sale to 154.2¢/kg.

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