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 13 November 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Restockers active

An increase in the EYCI for the week belies the trend witnessed throughout Victoria. This was predominately due to improved prices in Queensland. At best some prices were unchanged, a very small selection of light weight vealers sold to dearer trends, but most cattle sold at cheaper rates. The EYCI was 5.75¢ higher, closing at 306¢/kg cwt on Thursday.

The effect of the disrupted trading last week was negated with all except Pakenham young cattle sale offering more cattle. Most people expected the supply to nearly double at this market, but this did not occur, and prices were still cheaper. However, as the week progressed some prices for young cattle did return to the rates of the previous week. Generally, the reasonable to good season across the state is influencing better quality to be penned at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. While young cattle prices did vary throughout the week, grown steers, bullocks and cows were generally cheaper. Demand remains very poor for grown steers and bullocks with prices averaging a further 3¢/kg cheaper.

Cow prices have varied, although better quality did confuse the results. The best indicator of the results at cow markets is the carcase weight price, which was only 241¢/kg state wide. The value of the A$ climbed again during the week, which assists in making it difficult for processors.

Restockers played a slightly bigger role in price trends as more producers return to prime cattle sales to try and put cheaper lines of young cattle together. Feedlots however were more subdued in their purchases.

Cheaper trend continues

The best quality vealers reached 217¢, but prices over 200¢/kg were few and afar between. Most of the B muscle vealers made from 182¢ to 210¢, and similar quality yearlings made only to 205¢/kg. There were a number of C muscle steers and heifers that made between 135¢ and 190¢/kg. Even though D muscle vealers and yearlings were in reasonable to good condition, the lack of muscle, and therefore meat yield saw prices range from 110¢ to 155¢/kg. Heifers were severally affected by the lack of demand.

Grown steers and bullock prices suffered further with both overseas and local demand being poor. Prime C3 and C4 steers and bullocks were more prevalent at the markets, and prices were anywhere between 132¢ and 162¢/kg. There were isolated sales of heavy steers to 172¢/kg.

Very good quality aided cow prices to reach 136¢/kg. However, prices for most of the 3 and 4 score cows were mostly from 116¢ 130¢/kg. Leaner classes of cows were mostly between 85¢ and 118¢/kg, although some sales were noted at lower levels. Bull prices were also cheaper with heavy bulls made between 109¢ and 156¢/kg.

South Australian weekly cattle summary

Numbers retreat

Cattle producers over the past couple of weeks have been taking the brunt of the lower prices as the seasonal numbers game comes into play, the A$ strengthens, and many processors have chillers bursting at the seams with beef that now appears destined for the local market rather than the export side.

The SALE had recorded a reduced yarding and contained around 300 pastoral bred cattle mainly from Central Australia that sold to a mixture of orders with some by liveweight, and others on a $/head basis. Overall quality slipped, and while the usual buyers were in attendance some operated on a limited basis due to that lack of prime young cattle. Feeder purchases tended to fluctuate, albeit with the majority of the whole yarding selling mainly below 150c/kg. After the previous week’s dearer Naracoorte supply increased and contained quite good quality runs. However, this sale was not immune to the lower prices paid late the previous week as most categories sold at rates anywhere between 5¢ and 25¢/kg cheaper.

Mt. Gambier was going to split their sale from next Monday, however unless over 3,000 head are drawn for on a Monday normal sales will remain. A much smaller yarding was offered after last week’s much lower prices in mixed quality runs that sold to the usual South Australian, New South Wales and Victorian buyers in a fluctuating priced sale. Millicent’s numbers fell as well, and featured some of the regions magnificent prime B muscled European cross vealers.

A generally easing trend

It was another week of generally lower prices as most buyers tried to drop their rates even further. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 180¢ to 194¢ for the B muscled and 152¢ to 184¢ for the C muscled at prices 2¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers paid from 153¢ to 185¢, with isolated sales 4¢ dearer and others 3¢/kg less. Vealer heifers were between 3¢ and 19¢ cheaper, with trade purchases mostly 144¢ to 186¢, and feeder and restocker orders from 125c¢ to 172¢/kg. While some restocker purchases of yearling steers were up to 15¢ dearer selling from 130¢ to 176¢, trade C3 prices were generally 2¢ to 5¢ cheaper selling mainly between 150¢ and 162¢/kg. Yearling heifers sold mainly to the trade at rates 1¢ to 9¢ cheaper, with C3 sales 140¢ to 156¢, and the C4 heifers 134¢ to 154¢/kg.

The small number of medium weight grown steers offered led to those sales being 1¢ to 3¢ dearer, while the heavyweights were 2¢ to 3¢/kg cheaper. Most sold from 140¢ to 160¢ and averaged close to 270¢/kg cwt. Most cows sold at basically unchanged rates, and mainly in a 230¢ to 260¢/kg cwt price range.

West Australia weekly cattle summary

Local cattle supplies on the rise

Thunderstorm activity was recorded across much of WA during the week. The wet has begun in the far north of the State, while falls further to the south became quite significant. Much of the southwest recorded very solid falls across the week. Much of this moisture is now more a nuisance, but areas in the southwest and south coastal areas where pastures still remain green will gain some benefit. Cattle numbers continue to rise with all three weekly yarding having larger supplies. Harvesting of grain and hay was interrupted but much of latter has taken place and only cartage from the paddock is now left to do. There is now a possibility of grain down grading due to water staining and this coupled with the current weak market may see more speculative feeding occur this year. There remain areas in the southwest and lower Great Southern that are now doubtful of receiving any sort of a spring flush and agents are expectant of a large and swift turnoff of vealers from these areas in the very near future with many producers having already written this season off.

With pregnancy testing currently being under taken some operatives have reported unseasonal low conception rates in heads and again the late start to the season and very wet conditions in late winter coupled with low green feed levels are being touted as the reason. Physical cattle markets had slightly larger volumes in their yardings this week. Pastoral cattle numbers continue to flow into Midland with local grass finished steer and heifer supplies also larger.

Trade weight yearling quality rises

The supplies of new season vealers again rose. The supplies of heavy weight calves remained limited and these continued to enjoy a solid demand from the local processing and retailer trades with little or no change realised in rates. The vast majority of vealers however were of medium and lightweight and demand for these waned, particularly lightweight heifer categories with the tight feed conditions in some traditional southwest cattle areas a possible cause for the lack of demand from either back grounders or restockers. At his point in time agents and buyers are not expectant that the weak demand from lightweights will increase. There were very solid numbers of trade weight yearlings in all three yardings. Quality was improved this week and local trade demand remained solid as steer rates were maintained.

Trade weight yearling heifer values were marginally dearer with the increased quality a contributing factor. Heavy weight steer and bullock values rose under an increased trade inquiry after the weaker demand and lower rates of the previous couple of weeks. This was also the case in heavy weight mature heifer classes, while there was a slight but distinctive recovery in the values of local heavy cows.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply tightens

Supply across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards fell 21 per cent on last week as the majority of centres penned fewer head. The decline in throughput was heavily driven by recent showers across supply areas which encouraged several producers to hold on as the seasonal outlook improved. The recent cheap prices have also further encouraged graziers to hold on in order to add condition and potential values.

Vealer steer numbers remained relatively unchanged however restockers purchased greater numbers, a reflection of the improved season. Heifers witnessed a 17 per cent decline in throughput however restocker purchases lifted on last week. Yearling steer supply dropped back 12 per cent which was mainly felt in the feedlot sector. Feedlots captured fewer grown steers as state supply fell 21 per cent. Interestingly enough, the processing sector captured similar numbers despite tighter supply and the current tough trading environment. Cows witnessed the greatest fall in numbers as state throughput fell 35 per cent which was predominantly felt by the processing sector.

The quality of cattle entering the markets continues to be mixed. Given the scattered nature of the storms, producers lucky enough to be under rain have only being turning off finished quality cattle. However several producers who missed out on the showers are still forced to offload plain cattle.

Cattle going direct to slaughter met a slightly dearer market which was driven by the tighter numbers. However the majority of processors are reluctant to lift prices given the current lack of demand and would rather reduce kill days.

Revitalised market prices

All grades generally met a dearer trend across the state following on from some much needed rainfall and a restocker revival. Medium weight C2 vealer steers to slaughter averaged 195¢ with sales to 210¢ while those to restockers sold around 164¢ to top at 179¢/kg. Plain lightweight vealer heifers to restockers improved 4¢ in value to 144¢ while the C2’s to slaughter averaged close to 190¢ with sales to 214¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers ranged from 141¢ to 196¢ while the medium weights to feed lifted 2¢ to mostly sell around 163¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers held firm at 147¢ while the medium weight trade lines lifted 8¢ to 156¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed ranged from 138¢ to 162¢ while the heavyweights to slaughter averaged 154¢ with sales to 169¢/kg. The 4 score bullock portion sold from 144¢ to 164¢/kg. Medium weight grown heifers in 3 score condition averaged 143¢ with sales to 160¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows improved 3¢ to 110¢ while the 3 scores also lifted 3¢ to top at 126¢/kg. The heavyweight 3 score cows sold from 112¢ to 128¢ while the 4 scores averaged 123¢ to top at 131¢/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Numbers rise

Despite isolated falls of rain in some areas cancelling consignments at markets early in the week numbers experienced a small lift. This trend continued as the week progressed with the supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS climbing by 10 per cent. This was also despite there being no sale at Longreach, which has moved to fortnightly for the rest of the year. Overall quality continues to be mixed with larger numbers of plain condition grades coming forward. Buyer attendance at most markets was good with representatives covering all categories. The trend established in recent weeks of very strong support from southern operators on calves and vealers continued to strengthen. The very buoyant market flowed onto lightweight yearlings with all classes in the lower weight range receiving strong buying pressure irrespective of condition.

The medium and heavy weight yearlings experienced a mixed trend with medium weights to the trade lifting by 8¢ in places, however competition tended to taper off of on the heavy grades with improvements confined to 2¢ to 5¢/kg. Feeder grades of yearling steers and heifers were well supplied and regardless of the ample numbers available values managed to improve by 2¢ to 7¢/kg. Feeder operators displayed confidence in the future export slaughter market and medium weight grown steers came under stronger buying competition to improve by up to 14¢/kg. Apart from the occasional consignment steers and bullocks at markets early in the week were fairly scarce, nevertheless by midweek at Dalby good samples were available including a consignment of full mouth certified grainfed bullocks.

Export cattle steady

The trade purchased the major portion of the calves with only a token amount returning to the paddock, and values improved up to 17¢ with sales to 212.2¢ with most around 200¢/kg. A short supply of vealer steers made to 207.6¢ to average close to 170¢/kg. A fair supply of vealer heifers to the trade continued to improve in price with sales to 211.6¢ to average 187¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 177¢, while medium and heavyweights mostly sold in the mid to high 160¢/kg range. Lightweight yearling heifers gained up to 11¢ to average 165¢ with some to 183.2¢, while medium weights sold around 163¢/kg.

The full panel of export buyers were keen to make purchases and values for the bullock portion improved by 2¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 14¢ better at 174¢ with sales to 178.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 164¢ while the bullock portion sold 2¢ dearer at 167¢ with a few pens reaching 178.2¢/kg. Medium weight cows experienced very little change in value while good heavy cows improved by 2¢/kg. Cows to restockers made to 130¢ to average 127¢/kg. Medium weight 2 scores to processors averaged 108¢ and 3 scores 120¢ while good heavy cows mostly sold around 132¢/kg.

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