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

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Supply eases

The supply of cattle was slightly lower at MLA’s NLRS reported markets this week with Pakenham yarding significantly fewer head in the young cattle sale. Good rainfall in parts of the state over the past week, combined with an improved outlook, were the two main contributing factors. Despite this trend, various markets managed to yard greater numbers as some parts of the state remain dry.

Despite the limited supply of cattle, competition and demand has held steady over the past week due to much larger numbers being penned in both NSW and Queensland. As a result, buyers are heading interstate to source supply and better quality cattle which have been either supplementary or crop finished.

Demand from feedlots eased on the previous week as supply remains abundant in NSW and the export market situation remains grim. However such factors did not impact the values at saleyards, as restockers captured significantly more head. One export processor remains closed for maintenance at this stage, however the reduced number of grown steers and bullocks assisted in keeping prices firm to dearer. The lack of supply of cows however had the positive effect of driving prices up by 8¢/kg. Buyers were keen to purchase the leaner cows best suited to the 90CL US grinding beef market and these experienced the greatest improvements.

At the close of Thursday markets the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) slipped 5.5¢ on last week to settle at 315.5¢/kg cwt. This cheaper trend however was mainly driven by the deteriorating season and hot weather in NSW and Queensland while indicators remained steady in Victoria.

Rates firm to dearer

The varying weight, condition and quality of cattle had an effect on prices as rates varied considerably. Prices for vealers and supplementary fed yearlings peaked at 235¢; however the majority of these cattle made from 175¢ to 200¢/kg over all weight brackets. Lot feeders and restockers purchased a large number of the plainer condition cattle, paying anywhere between 135¢ to 205¢ with most sales averaging between 165¢ to 178¢/kg.

Due to the very small supply of grown steers offered at all sales, demand was solid and prices were firm to dearer. Better quality steers made from 160¢ to 187¢, and bullocks made up to 185¢/kg. Cow prices were generally dearer across the board with averages being firm to 7¢/kg stronger. Out of the 2,300 cows yarded at reported markets, quality was generally plainer with very few good quality 3 and 4 score cows offered. Prices for these ranged from 133¢ to 152¢/kg. Strong demand for leaner cows saw most make between 105¢ to 145¢, averaging around 127¢/kg. Demand for heavyweight well muscled bulls was steady with better quality bulls making from 145¢ to 188¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Supply falls

There were less cattle yarded with the SA LE yarding 266 fewer head, and Naracoorte with 339 less. Mount Gambier’s numbers fell by 43 head to 973 head and was probably due to some wet paddocks following some excellent rainfall in the lower South East. Millicent agents yarded 176 fewer cattle with 420 head penned for its fortnightly sale.

The SA LE market witnessed a cheaper trend due to two interstate buyers not attending. The sale also featured more pastoral bred cattle than normal which contributed to the cheaper rates, with only isolated quality cattle and cows attracting the dearer levels. Fewer feeder orders were around and prices eased on C2 yearling steers and heifers.

Naracoorte’s sale featured mixed runs of young cattle, and good quality runs of grown steers and cows, with just about all categories being dearer due to the very strong SA and interstate trade and processor competition. There were also a couple of additional orders that assisted, and with an Adelaide Hills wholesaler back there were good prices paid for lightweight vealers, and some supplementary fed yearling steers. A number of categories have been keenly sourced due to a South East processor’s new slaughter chain now operating and allowing larger stock to be put through.

Mount Gambier’s sale sold to strong competition despite the varying quality available, even though a couple of Victorian and one NSW order failed to source any stock due to the dearer prices paid, and not many suitable to their requirements.

Varying trends

Vealer steers in small numbers sold mainly to the trade and local butcher orders between 186¢ and 228¢ at rates 6¢ to 29¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to a mixture of orders sold from 164¢ to 224¢ to the trade; and 151¢ to 174¢ to feeder and restocker activity at prices mainly 1¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Yearling steers in generally 2 and 3 score condition sold to the trade from 162¢ to 200¢/kg, with C3 sales basically unchanged, while being slightly cheaper for the 2 scores due to the soft feeder activity. Feeder and restocker orders secured a wide range of weights and quality mainly between 150¢ and 185¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales were 4¢ to 9¢ dearer with C3 sales 166¢ to 190¢, and the D3’s 133¢ to 172¢/kg.

Strong competition for grown steers lifted most sales into a 180¢ to 199¢ price range at rates 3¢ to 10¢/kg more, to average between 330¢ to 360¢/kg cwt. Grown beef heifers in larger runs were keenly sourced generally between 152¢ and 172¢, to be mostly 4¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Most cows were 3¢ to 8¢ dearer, with beef bred 3 to 5 scores selling between 132¢ and 158¢/kg, or generally 275¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Sunshine needed in southwest regions

Mustering activity in and around the Kimberley continues to wind down as the season progresses with live export activity now increasing in pastoral regions further to the south. The lower Gascoyne area continues to endure a tight season, while areas to the north have enjoyed far better conditions. Many areas in the traditional cattle breeding areas of the southwest are now hoping for sunshine and dry weather to encourage feed growth which has been hampered by the recent wet weather of the past six weeks. The majority of areas however in the southern regions continue to enjoy solid seasonal conditions with most areas reporting very solid pasture and crop growth over the past couple of weeks. Forecasts have predicted further rainfall activity across the weekend and into the early parts of next week, but have indicated that these will be localised and predominately confined to coast regions south of Perth.

Cattle numbers in the yards other than Midland remain low as would be expected at this time of year with Midland’s supplies continuing to be derive from pastoral regions as the annual mustering season continues. The numbers of heavyweight steers and bullocks remained extremely limited with this also the case in heavyweight grown heifer classes. Prime trade weight yearling steer and heifer supplies, either grass or grain finished also reasonably limited and this continues to inspire a strong local trade demand. Cow numbers were again buoyant due to strong pastoral turnoff with store numbers also remaining very solid.

Store demand strengthens

There remains a solid turnoff of lightweight calves despite the market having recorded recent weaker trend and lower pricing levels. The majority of these are now being purchased by restockers with the solid supplies having fully satiated trade and retailer demand. The numbers of medium and heavy weight vealers continue to be all but non-existent and demand for the very small supplies continues firmly from the local trade. A restriction in locally bred trade weight steers and heifers again fuelled another solid demand from the local trade and retail sectors which saw very firm market conditions reported. This was evident in both grass and grain finished categories. An increase in pasture levels recently has created a heightening in local restocker activity and locally bred steers and heifers both realised dearer rates. The market for lightweight store pastoral heifers remains depressed due in part to the volume of numbers currently on the market.

Heavy weight steer and bullock values remain solid with numbers again tight, while a reduction in trade competition saw heifer values fall slightly. The cow market started the week at lower levels, but this trend was reversed as the week progressed finishing down by 5¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Falling supply

Cattle supply at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards fell 22% this week. The majority of the drop was experienced in the north of the state, with Inverell, Casino and Armidale recording falls in supply. The reduction in yardings can be attributed to cheaper prices being offered, and the winter sell-off coming to an end. Good rainfall in the south of the state with more to follow also encouraged producers to hold onto available stock which aided the smaller yardings.

All categories contributed to the reduction in numbers with cows recording the largest falls. Vealer steer throughput dropped 27% with restockers feeling the majority of the effects. Yearling steer numbers fell 11%, which aided to the overall drop in numbers. As a result of the reduced yardings, the feedlot sector captured 34% less which was slightly offset by a 19% increase in those purchased by restockers. Grown steer throughout slipped 3% with significantly less going to feeders, however, processors offset the trend as 22% more went to slaughter. The cow yarding dropped 38% on last week with processors feeling the brunt of the decrease.

Quality continues to be mixed with a growing number of cattle reflecting the record August temperatures and deteriorating season. However, good quality well finished cattle continue to enter the market with several being supplementary fed or finished on crop. The majority of the better quality cattle have tended to go direct to slaughter or feed rather than through the physical markets. Direct to works rates were generally cheaper fall cattle, as the tough trading environment continues and supply exceeds demand.

Easing prices

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to slaughter ranged from 148¢ to 190¢ while those returning to the paddock averaged 172¢ with sales to 201¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers made to a top of 196¢ while the heavyweight 3 scores to slaughter held firm at 181¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers eased 3¢ in value to 169¢ while medium weights to feeders slipped 2¢ to average 168¢/kg. The lightweight C2 yearling heifers to restockers ranged from 133¢ to 166¢ while the medium weight 3 scores held firm at 164¢ with sales to 202¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers sold to a top of 172¢ with most sales around 161¢/kg. The heavyweight portion improved 2¢ in value to 167¢ while the bullocks averaged 166¢ with sales to 175¢/kg to hold firm. The medium weight C3 grown heifers made from 125¢ to 170¢ with most sales around 154¢/kg.

Medium weight D2 cows destined to slaughter eased 2¢ to average 115¢ while the 3 scores held firm at 125¢ with sales to 143¢/kg. Heavyweight 3 score cows mostly sold around 129¢ while the well finished 4 scores averaged 132¢ with sales to 142¢/kg. Bulls sold to a top of 170¢ with most sales around 130¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

State supply lifts

The unseasonably hot and dry ending to winter pushed the supply of stock to a higher-level with physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS recording an increase of close to 14%. Most southern selling centres experienced a small lift in supply, however the largest increases occurred in the north.

The quality of the stock at Longreach mirrored the deteriorating season and hot weather. Quality and condition also took a slide at Mareeba as the season begins to deteriorate with a large proportion of poor quality young cattle included in the line-up. The standard of stock in the south remains mixed however fair size consignments of supplementary and crop fed descriptions are helping the overall quality of the export grades.

Most classes of young cattle experienced a cheaper market with feeders and lightweight restocker lines the least affected. Calves and vealer steers returning to the paddock met a strong enquiry from restockers while lightweight yearling steers varied in value according to quality. The fall in slaughter grades of young cattle experienced the previous week continued with vealer heifers averaging 7¢ cheaper while yearling heifers to the trade lost 10¢ to 13¢/kg.

Despite a good panel of export buyers present and operating at markets early in the week values fell for most export descriptions. By midweek, the absence of some export processors from the buying panel caused further price reductions. Heavy steers and bullocks lost 5¢ to 6¢ and the better end of cows fell in value by 1¢ to 2¢/kg. The lightweight and poor condition lines lost considerably more.

Cheaper trend continues

Calves returning to the paddock made to 203.2¢ to average 4¢ better at 178¢ while trade descriptions lost 6¢ to average 165¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock also met a strong market to average close to 188¢ with a few pen lots reaching 200.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 5¢ cheaper at 160¢, and feeder descriptions sold around 7¢ less at 162¢, while butchers paid to the occasional 190¢/kg. A large number of yearlings steer to feed averaged 4¢ cheaper with C2s close to 170¢ while the better C3s sold to 190¢/kg. A good supply of yearling heifers in the medium weight range sold to a market 10¢ easier at 160¢kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed lost 2¢ to average 170¢ with a few pens of well bred grades reaching 180¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 4¢ less at 176¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks across all markets for the week lost 3¢ with most sales around 171¢ with a few making to 176.6¢/kg. A large supply of lightweight E2 cows averaged just under 80¢, while medium weight D1 grades averaged 103¢/kg. A fair supply of good heavy cows averaged 1¢ cheaper at 131¢ with the occasional sale to 144.6¢/kg.

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