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 14 August 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Numbers fall

Supply varied across the state with all Gippsland and some other sales realising significant falls. However, with a major exporter currently closed for three weeks supply of grown cattle in Gippsland markets were heavily reduced. At times, grown steer, bullock and cow numbers was down by over 60%. The lack of competition affected prices at the Gippsland sales with grown steers ranging from 9¢ to 12¢ cheaper, and cows slipping 3¢ to 7¢/kg. Other markets were also cheaper, and falls of 6¢ to 8¢/kg recorded on the grown steers. This scenario was similar for the cows with price falls ranging between 2¢ and 12¢/kg.

While young cattle markets were generally cheaper, prices for the best quality B muscle vealers and supplementary fed yearlings suffered the larger falls. While the top price was similar at Pakenham, it was only for a single pen. Part of any price reduction was inspired by weaker demand from feedlots for lines of heifers, and some steers, as feeders start ease stock intakes as the finished article will be coming out of the feedlots when supplies are increasing both in Victoria, and interstate.

At Bairnsdale, supply was much smaller with the continuing drought affecting both quality and numbers. Major annual spring store markets are expected to take most of the young cattle, as their quality and weight is not going to be good enough for trade sales. There are also going to be some large runs of well bred cows sold off as producers struggle with the cost of carting feed and water to parts of the high country.

EYCI slipping

There remains a number better quality C muscle young cattle selling at rates between 160¢ and 195¢/kg. There were large falls dealt to the heavier yearlings, and the plainer quality lines. The top price of 235¢/kg was paid for a small pen of top quality, high yielding grain finished yearling steers. Most of the better quality B muscle vealers and yearlings made from 190¢ to 220c/kg. Prices paid by feedlots and restockers have varied greatly with the majority of sales being from 160¢ to 192¢/kg. There were some sales of lightweight steers, particularly Angus which made as much as 210¢/kg. The poor quality cattle made mostly from 125¢ to 170¢/kg.

A cheaper trend for young cattle has been evident over most states and this is highlighted in the fall of 9.50¢/kg cwt in the EYCI compared to last week. At the completion of Thursday’s markets the EYCI was 335.50¢/kg cwt.

With the fall in competition for grown steers prices were between 160¢ and 184¢/kg. Better quality beef cows made from 128¢ to 158¢/kg, although the top prices were few and far between. Demand for leaner cows was reasonable, which saw most 1 and 2 score cows make from 110¢ to 142¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Split sales approaching

A similar numbered yarding at SA LE featured some excellent quality drafts of supplementary fed yearlings that sold to strong competition from the regular contingent of trade and processor buyers. There was also a large consignment of pastoral bred cattle that sold well despite their plain condition.

Naracoorte’s numbers rose by around a quarter and featured mixed quality runs of young cattle, mainly two and four teeth grown steers, large numbers of grown heifers and cows. The latter now necessitating a switch to split markets from Friday September 11th.

Mt. Gambier had a reduced, albeit only slightly, very mixed quality runs that sold to the usual SA and Victorian buying fraternity. There was a Victorian processor was absent and a NSW order was more selective, this having an affect on grown steer and cow prices.

Millicent agents put together a slightly larger very mixed quality yarding for its fortnightly sale that generally followed a weaker weekly South East market trend. Going against the though were the lightweight vealers which attracted spirited bidding.

Feeder orders were particularly active on light and medium weight vealer and yearling steers at mainly lower rates. Grown steer and cow prices were generally cheaper, with 186¢ for steers and 145¢/kg for cows as far as most buyers were prepared to go to. The pastoral lines at the SA LE attracted rates from 122¢ to 128¢ for D1 yearling steers, with the E1 and D1 heifers making 116¢ to 134¢/kg. The bulls sold from 104¢ to 150¢/kg with lightweights at the higher end.

Fluctuating trends

It was a week of fluctuating trends, with more sales cheaper than dearer. Vealer steers to the trade and local butchers sold from 178¢ to 226¢/kg at basically unchanged rates. Feeder and restocker orders secured well bred steers between 185¢ and 200¢ at prices up to 7c/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers sales followed suit with some cheaper and others dearer as most sales to the trade ranged between 178¢ and 215¢, with feeders paying from 155¢ to 185¢/kg.

While B muscled yearling steers were 1¢ to 5¢ dearer selling from 185¢ to 203¢, most C3 sales were unchanged between 169¢ and 194¢/kg. Feeder purchase of C2 steers were 8¢ cheaper for the medium and heavyweights, while being 16¢/kg dearer for lightweights, with most selling from 160¢ to 197¢/kg. Yearling heifers were generally 4¢ to 9¢ cheaper as most C3 and C4 sales ranged between 153¢ to 185¢/kg.

Grown steers lost 1¢ to 6¢ with C3 and C4 sales mainly 172¢ to 186¢, or around a 330¢/kg cwt average. Cow prices tended to retreat by 2¢ to 10¢ as most 3 to 5 score beef cows sold from 120¢ to 148¢, and mainly in a 250¢ to 290¢/kg cwt price range.

WA weekly cattle summary

More rain in south

For much of the south western corner of the state the average seasonal conditions continue as several cold fronts crossed the corner of coast bringing further rainfall. Coastal and southern areas received the largest falls of rain and this coupled with recent sunshine has created increased pasture growth.

In the north efforts continue to be concentrated on mustering as live export activity also remains solid and still the preferred method of marketing of stock for producers in these regions. In the southern Ag regions turnoff of cattle remains limited as would be expected at this time of year with few prime cattle currently available.

Subsequently volumes in all saleyards were low with Midland remaining the largest yarding and this in part solely to the supplies of pastoral cattle currently being forwarded into this market. Heavy weight steer, bullock and heifer supplies were all constricted with good supplies of cows and lightweight heifers being available. Young store grades also continue to contribute reasonable supplies into saleyards.

Trade demand showed a slight softening in demand towards the end of the week and a major processor indicated this was due to an increase in bookings direct to the works that has risen in the past ten days or so.

Live export activity was also conservative with the majority of boats being consigned to northern ports. Feeder activity has also continued to be selective but the market continues to record a firm and solid demand from this sector, while restocker activity is relatively active.

Weaker heavy cattle demand

There was an increase in the supplies of lightweight vealers and subsequently the solid demand in recent months from the processor and retail trade sector declined. This caused a reduction in values and allowed greater access to numbers for restockers due to the lower price levels. The volumes of medium and heavy weight vealers are all but non-existent and demand for these from the local trade continues to be strong with little or no changes realised in values. Although Midland had increases in both the numbers of supplementary fed yearling heifers and steers total supply across the week remained low. Demand from the local trade and retailer sector remained buoyant with tight supplies having a stabilising influence on the higher prices seen a few weeks ago. Store quality remains mixed with a reasonable spread being achieved between medium and lightweight categories. Restockers continue to be the largest purchases of these grades despite a firm feed interest also realised.

The market for heavy weight cattle recorded a solid reduction in what has been a very stable and strong demand from both the local and export processor sectors with virtually all categories falling by approximately 10c/kg lwt.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Numbers higher

Supply across MLA’s NRLS reported saleyards was up 10% this week with the majority of markets yarding greater numbers. This rise in numbers comes as producers are forced to offload more cattle due to the deteriorating season in some parts of the state. Cattle numbers at Inverell were up 40% while supply at Gunnedah and Tamworth increased 30% and 23% respectively. However there were some markets which recorded fewer numbers than last week, with supply at Dubbo easing 24%.

The quality of cattle has begun to drop slightly as the season begins to dry out and producers are forced to offload. However quality is still considered fair to good with available runs of supplementary fed young cattle.

While overall numbers increased, the supply of vealer steers went against the trend and dropped 20% with restockers less active. Vealer heifer supply held relatively stable however feeders and processors were more active. Yearling steer supply jumped significantly with numbers up 30%. All buying sectors benefited however processors captured 90% more than last week. Yearling heifer numbers also increased, with supply up 15% which was captured by processors and restockers.

Grown steer and heifer numbers slipped, however processors and feeders were less active while restockers improved their share. Cow supply lifted only slightly however significantly less went to restockers.

Although all there regular buyers were in attendance, the increased numbers has reduced competition. As a result of the drop in quality and higher numbers, prices have fallen across the eastern states.

Prices ease as season deteriorates

A large percentage of medium weight C2 vealer steers went to restockers with prices easing 6¢ to sell around 186¢, while those going to processors averaged 184¢/kg. Processors were active on medium weight vealer heifers as prices averaged 175¢, while those returning to the paddock sold around 162¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers going to feeders eased with prices averaging 183¢, while those going to restockers sold around 181¢, cheaper by 10¢/kg. Large numbers of medium weight C2 yearling steers went to feeders, with prices easing 7¢ to average 178¢/kg. Those returning to the paddock sold around 178¢/kg. A good line up of heavyweight yearling steers to slaughter generally sold around 178¢, while those going to feeders averaged 180¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers purchased by feeders improved 1¢ to sell at 170¢ with a top price of 182¢/kg. Medium weight C2’s to feed eased 6¢ to average 167¢ while C3’s to slaughter sold at 172¢/kg.

The C2 grown steers purchased by feeders sold to a top of 178¢ to average 167¢ while C3’s to slaughter eased 9¢ to generally sell around 168¢/kg. Grown C3 heifers to slaughter fell 9¢ to average 156¢, while D3’s to slaughter sold around 140¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows averaged 117¢ while 3 scores sold around 125/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Rain needed

Rain is once again the main topic of conversation through a large area of the state. Apart from a very narrow storm producing around 20 mm in a portion of the Eastern Downs, no rain has been recorded in most parts of the state for at least eight weeks. The lack of moisture is starting to affect oats crops with regrowth stalling. Wheat and barley crops in the deep black soil areas will develop to a mature crop, however in the higher country rain is badly needed within two weeks or these crops will fail.

Fair consignments of grown steers and bullocks off oats are still coming forward and in some cases supplementary feeding is helping the oats last a bit longer. Supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell 20% and contained a wide variation in quality from milk and two tooth heavy steers and bullocks off crop as well as supplementary fed, through to plain condition lightweight heifers.

Despite the drop in supply values generally eased for most classes. Feeder grades were the least affected however with no supermarket support slaughter grades of yearlings eased with heifers falling by 10¢/kg. Restockers are still fairly active in the market nevertheless as each week goes by without rain buyers are becoming more selective. The trend established in recent weeks of milk and two tooth heavy steers and bullocks receiving strong demand, and the four and six tooth categories meeting a subdued market continued. The fall in cow prices continued with the better end losing a further 3¢ to 5¢/kg while plain condition grades held firm.

Values ease

A fair number of calves sold to the trade at 174¢, while an equal number sold to restockers at 184¢ with sales to 207.2¢/kg. Vealer steers returned to the paddock around 191¢ with sales to 198.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 171¢ and sold to 186.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 180¢ and medium weights around 177¢/kg. Heavy slaughter grades averaged 2¢ less at 175¢ with sales to 198.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade sold 7¢ cheaper with most around 167¢ with a few sales to 191.2¢, while heavy classes lost up to 12¢ to average 164¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed experienced very little change at an average 175¢ with some pen lots reaching 184.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 3¢ cheaper at 177¢/kg. A fair supply of good heavy bullocks were penned and young classes generally sold from 180¢ to 188.2¢ while the older categories averaged in the 170¢/kg range. Medium weight poor condition cows held firm at 106¢, and 2 scores averaged 2¢ cheaper at 114¢/kg. Heavy 3 scores lost 5¢ to average 125¢, while good heavy cows were cheaper by 3¢ to average 136¢/kg.

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