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 5 October 2009
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Rain effects yardings

Some Gippsland markets were severally affected by the tumultuous rain that fell over the weekend. It certainly stopped producers from yarding cattle for the Pakenham young cattle sale, which produced one of the smallest Monday sales in memory. All other Gippsland markets were smaller, and a further 50 per cent fewer were penned at Bairnsdale. The Bairnsdale district was one of the very few to receive little rain out of the recent fronts that passed over the rest of the state. The supply in the rest of the state generally showed little change, which kept the overall fall to 10 per cent at MLA’s NLRS reported markets.

Normally, when this situation occurs of smaller yardings, prices go through the roof, but this was not the case. Processors are purchasing big numbers out of the larger NSW markets, and still getting them back to the plant at cheaper than prices in Victoria. However, there were some price increases recorded by the short supply, which was encompassed over all classes of cattle. There are enough smaller wholesalers and some butchers that kept demand strong, which saw prices for vealers and yearlings lift between 2¢ and 12¢/kg. However, with NSW and QLD prices suffering price falls, the EYCI still managed to lift 1.25¢ to 317.50¢/kg cwt than last Thursday.

Not all grown cattle sold too much higher prices, but there were some sales recorded that were up to 13¢/kg higher. Overall, grown steer prices averaged 3¢ dearer, and cows prices fluctuated greatly, but were also around 3¢/kg dearer. Interestingly, with the Bairnsdale sale falling to only 206 head 70 per cent of these were cows, and for the first time anyone could remember, no bulls were penned.

Grown steers dearer

It was only Pakenham young cattle sale that produced a spike in price for the best quality vealers and supplementary fed yearlings. Providing these cattle were not over 400kg lwt, they made to 240¢, and a number sold over 215¢/kg. Across all other centre prices were between 185¢ and 220¢/kg for the best quality B muscle cattle, and most of the C muscle cattle that go toward making up the EYCI made between 160¢ and 195¢/kg.

Stronger demand for grown steers lifted prices as much as 15¢, but averages were 3¢ to 8¢/kg dearer. Prices ranged between 162¢ and 191¢, and the small numbers of bullocks sold made from 155¢ to 180¢/kg.

Even though export processors would like cow prices to decline further, the lack of supply saw an average increase of around 4¢/kg. While prices varied between the markets the carcass weight price average was estimated to be 250¢/kg. The best quality beef cows made from 123¢ to 144¢, and most of the lean cows made between 90¢ and 128¢/kg. None of the supply fall could help bull prices with heavy bulls making between 106¢ and 162¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Pastoral numbers remain strong

The southwest corner of the state had another week of good rainfall. Temperatures have remained unseasonally cool with further frosts again recorded. Areas in the far south coast continue to report tight feed conditions due to their wet state and a lack of sunshine. To alleviate this feed shortage some continue to hand feed their stock several times a week. The north of the state remained predominately fine and dry and good supplies continue to flow from these regions. This factor was witnessed by the very solid supplies that were once again forwarded into Midland’s sale early in the week.

The wet conditions that have been experienced across winter and spring in the traditional cattle regions has slowed growth rates and consequently the turnoff of prime grass finished cattle has continued to be slow, but this will improve as sunshine improves in the next couple of weeks. This has also been the case in this year’s vealers with agents already commenting that many will be turned off later and at generally lighter weights.

The processing sector remains quiet and continues to experience difficulty in selling product, both internationally and on a domestic basis. The long weekend of last week saw the cancellation of the southwest’s sale, but despite this the combination of lager numbers in the Great Southern coupled with another solid yarding at Midland saw good supplies of cattle in physical markets. Despite the solid numbers there were reasonably limited supplies of prime drafts available irrespective of weight or sex as store and lightweight grades dominated both yardings.

Cow rates remain fair

Large numbers of lightweight vealers continue to be placed on the market and this again placed demand pressure on the market. Rates however remained in line with recent weeks quotes under a similar restocker activity. Medium and heavyweight drafts of new season vealers also met a continued firm and strong demand from both the local trade and retail sectors. Trade weight yearling steers and heifers recorded another firm demand from the local processor sector that ensured firm rates were paid and this should continue given the reasonably tight supplies that are being experienced.

The very strong supplies of both local bred and pastoral drafts of store cattle remained a strong market force that again saw demand remain relatively weak. Many restockers are wary of the difficulty processors are having moving product and this is influencing much of their purchasing activity. Subsequently there were slight reductions in the store market with steer grades recording the largest losses.

The limited numbers of heavyweight steers and bullocks again ensured a solid trade demand was recorded. The market for local heavyweight cows improved a few cents, while a static demand from processors ensured that the values of pastoral cows remained unchanged.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Dry season forces numbers onto the market

Cattle availability across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards increased 9 per cent compared to last week. The majority of markets recorded higher numbers with supply at Dubbo and Gunnedah increasing 35 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. The increase in supply continues as the season deteriorates, with producers holding on to stock where possible but otherwise being forced to offload. However Forbes and Wagga went against the trend with numbers decreasing by 21 per cent and 14 per cent respectively compared to last weeks figures.

Quality was once again mixed across the reported markets. While there was a good supply of supplementary fed cattle, there were still a number of plain conditioned cattle yarded. However, the improved spring conditions in the Wagga supply area resulted in generally good quality across all grades at the sale.

The overall number of vealers offered dropped, with all buying sectors feeling the effects. Supply of yearling steers remained firm, with processors and restockers slightly more active. The number of yearling heifers increased 15 per cent with processors and restockers capturing the increase. The number of grown steers yarded increased 15 per cent compared to the previous market, while grown heifer supply jumped 65 per cent, with all buying sectors capturing some of the increase. Cows also increased in supply, with numbers 18 per cent higher than the previous week.

Demand weakened in a generally cheaper market. Restockers are being more cautious due to the uncertain outlook for the rest of the season, while the high A$ and subsequent lack of overseas demand has affected feeders and processor orders, with some processors reducing kill days.

Retreating prices

Medium weight C2 vealer steers lost 1¢ to settle at 180¢ while those to restockers lost 4¢ to average close to 172¢ with sales to 186¢/kg. The heifer portion mostly sold around 170¢ while the heavyweight 3 scores to slaughter averaged 180¢ to finish 4¢/kg dearer. Lightweight C2 yearling steers returning to the paddock averaged 178¢ while medium weights to feed generally sold around 171¢/kg. The 3 score heavyweights to slaughter ranged from 151¢ to 198¢ to finish 1¢/kg cheaper than the previous week. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed slipped 2¢ to end at 156¢ while medium weight 3 scores to slaughter averaged 165¢ with sales to 199¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers destined to slaughter sold from 142¢ to 170¢ while heavyweights to similar orders averaged 164¢ with sales to 175¢/kg. The good run of 3 score bullocks held firm at 161¢ as sales ranged from 150¢ to 170¢/kg. Medium weight C3 grown heifers generally made 151¢ with sales to 165¢/kg. Lightweight D2 cows ranged from 80¢ to 113¢ while the medium weight 3 scores averaged 120¢ with sales to 126¢/kg. Heavyweight 4 score cows slipped 2¢ in value to 127¢ to top at 134¢/kg.

QLD cattle summary

Numbers continued to climb

The deteriorating season across a wide proportion of the state resulted in numbers at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS climbing a further 10 per cent. This trend was most noticeable at Dalby where supply climbed to the highest level witnessed so far this year. The dry conditions were reflected in the quality of some lines and the overall standard continues to be mixed with reduced numbers of properly finish lines.

Buyer representation at most markets was good with a full panel of buyers present and operating. The sheer weight of numbers was a major factor behind prices falling across most categories.

Apart from calves returning to the paddock and selected lines of yearling steers to feed for a supermarket chain providing a bright spot in market, all other classes of young cattle lost ground. A large supply of yearling heifers suffered reductions with slaughter grades around 9¢ cheaper and the largest sample of feeder descriptions fell 7¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced the largest fall in price commencing the week 6¢ to 10¢ cheaper; however by midweek falls of 12¢ to 15¢/kg were recorded. Cows followed a similar trend commencing with small losses of 2¢ to 3¢, and finishing the week 4¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper, with plain condition cows the least affected due to restocker interests.

The barley harvest across the southern districts has begun with mixed results in regards to quality and quantity. The wheat harvest is almost ready for some early crops and warm and dry conditions have taken its toll in places.

Mixed values

A large number of calves returned to the paddock at 180¢ with sales to 200.2¢ and trade descriptions mostly sold at 175¢/kg. Vealer steers to feed averaged 182¢ and made to 196.2¢/kg. A large supply of vealer heifers remain firm at close to 169¢ with isolated sales recorded to 205.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed made to a top of 194.2¢ with most weight ranges averaging in the early 170¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feed averaged 4¢ to 7¢ cheaper with the largest sample averaging 156¢/kg. Medium weight slaughter descriptions averaged 9¢ less at 157¢ and made to 188.6¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers to feed sold in a range from 152¢ to 172.2¢ with most sales close to 160¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter across all markets averaged 10¢ cheaper at 162¢, and the bullock portion averaged 13¢ less at 160.8¢/kg.

Cows to restockers made to 114.2¢ to average 107¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows to processors averaged 3¢ cheaper at 112¢ and the 3 scores lost a similar amount to average 122¢/kg. Good heavy cows sold to a market 5¢ easier at 130¢ the very occasional sale to 142.2¢/kg. Heavy bulls averaged 134¢ with sales to 147.2¢/kg.

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