Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat and Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 11 December 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Larger numbers

While cattle numbers have fallen early in the week with the SA LE only yarding 427 or 333 head less and Naracoorte with 681 or 114 head fewer; Mt Gambier’s larger yarding of 2,310 head was 485 head more. Millicent agents yarded 819 head or 169 more. Add to this number the 3,775 weaner steers that sold at Naracoorte on Thursday and some 1,500 heifers on Friday, plus the 2,500 store cattle at Mt. Gambier on Friday afternoon, should put a large hole in South East cattle numbers prior to the Christmas/New Year break. The SA LE’s sale attracted strong competition from the usual local butchers, wholesalers and processors, with the improved quality definitely helping, although those who yarded vealers in small numbers would have been disappointed as most sold at lower rates. Naracoorte’s quality slipped and sold to steady trade and processor competition from most of the usual SA and Victorian buyers in a sale that was generally dearer for trade categories, while being cheaper for the export grades. Feeder and restocker orders were also active.

Mt. Gambier’s yarding was quite mixed, although grown steer and bullock quality was very good again. The usual buying contingent was operating, however some were only making limited purchases as supply outstripped demand, this leading to most categories attracting a weaker trend. The only exception was a few heavy C3 yearling steers and heavy C4 yearling heifers that were generally 1¢/kg dearer. Millicent’s run of prime vealers continued with again a good quality selection for Victorian trade buyers to source supplies.

Fluctuating trends

Vealer steers to the trade and local butcher orders sold from 168¢ to 192¢ for the B muscled, and 160¢ to 180¢/kg for the C3 steers. This tended to leave most sales 1¢ to 9¢ cheaper, although a few C2 sales were 5¢/kg dearer when restocker and feeder orders took on the trade at rates mainly between 152¢ and 172¢/kg. Vealer heifers were 3¢ to 18¢ cheaper to the trade, with C3 sales ranging between 150¢ and 177¢, and isolated B muscled sales to 190¢/kg. Yearling steers were unchanged to 6¢ dearer, with C3 sales mainly 148¢ to 166¢/kg. Trade, feeder and restocker orders secured C2 steers from 141¢ to 164¢/kg, with some sales cheaper, and others dearer. Yearling heifer sales were interesting as most C3 sales ranged between 140¢ and 156¢ at basically unchanged levels, while being 1¢ dearer for C4 heifers that sold from 134¢ to 149¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were unchanged to 3¢ cheaper, with some 5 score bullocks 8¢ cheaper as C3 to C5 sales ranged from 235¢ to 255¢, or around 260¢/kg cwt. Cows were mainly 1¢ to 6¢ cheaper with 3 to 5 scores selling from 105¢ to 130¢/kg, or 230¢ to 245¢/kg cwt.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Gunnedah’s record yarding

Just on 98% of the state is either drought declared or marginal. To be expected with these seasonal conditions, the trend of larger numbers continued. Throughput increased 16% and is over 50% higher than the same week last year. The large numbers at Inverell contained consignments from the North West of the state. Gunnedah recorded its largest prime cattle market yarding when over 5,300 head were offered. This was the result of the dreadful season in the supply area as well as the upcoming 3 week break. Even though prices have been slipping, declining feed quantity and quality as well as stock water is still major factors behind producers having to offload. All northern NSW centres continue to offload large numbers, with Tamworth and Inverell having continual large numbers and in the Central West Dubbo offered over 6,000 head.

Quality across all markets has been mixed with the leaner lines outnumbering the properly finished cattle. Along with the increasing supply, the fall in quality has placed increased pressure on prices. So too has age and this is highlighted by the grown steers with 4 or more teeth being discounted more than the 0 and 2 tooth lines.

All the regular buyers have been present but competition was generally subdued. A couple of markets however have been missing an order or two as some processors have plenty of cattle available to them direct. Direct to works rates early in the week were cheaper for all categories with only vealers and MSA cattle holding firm.

Price falls again

Physical market prices for young cattle were 4¢ to 15¢kg cheaper as the grown cattle lost 3¢ to 16¢/kg although larger falls were not uncommon. The EYCI has slipped a further 13.75¢ to 278.25¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday’s markets.

Restockers purchased vealer steers for 6¢ less at rates between 150¢ and 166¢, with a top price of 289¢/kg for C2s. Slaughter grades of vealer steers made mainly from 165¢ to 276¢, up to a top of 201¢/kg for steers. Most vealer heifers went to slaughter, at average rates of 169¢ for light weights and 160¢/kg for medium and heavy weights.

Medium weight C muscled yearling steers were 8¢ to 11¢/kg cheaper to all buying sectors. Restockers paid 147¢ for medium weight C2s, lotfeeders purchased in the 150¢ vicinity and processors paid an average of 151¢/kg for medium and heavy yearling steers.

Grown steer prices were 5¢ to 10¢ less for bullocks and heavy weights and 8¢/kg less for lightweights. Medium and heavy weight grown steers and bullocks made 135¢ to 150¢/kg. Medium cows were fully firm at 105¢ to 114¢ and heavy cows averaged 116¢ and reached 132¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Local turnoff on the rise

Summer weather patterns have been recorded across the majority of Western Australia with temperatures having been warm to hot. Fine and hot conditions have been forecast for much of the coming weeks with many areas expecting very hot conditions in excess of forty degrees Celsius. In the north of the state the majority of cattle work has now been completed with weakening supplies of pastoral cattle being seen in southern markets. The southern local cattle sell off is in full swing and the market continues to struggle with a weakened processing capacity, a high dollar value and soft demand. This is true of both the export market and local industry with the latter continuing to have to compete with imported eastern states product. The weaker than usual trade inquiry on the market has seen many producers try to hold stock back from the market with physical sales seeing lower than usual supplies of trade and heavy weight categories forwarded for sale.

Live export activity in the southern regions of WA has increased substantially and this sector is currently very active ad has been sourcing significant supplies of cattle even though the emphasis has been on Bos Indicus rather the Bos Taurus breeds thus far. Last week saw the beginning of the annual two day sales in the Great Southern with reasonably solid supplies recorded on both days. Outside of this there have been significant numbers of vealer having been sold in regional sales throughout the remaining southwest with numbers expected to rise sharply in the New Year in January.

Conservative interest

The increased vealer numbers are being forwarded to market at lower than average weights with wet and cold seasonal conditions throughout many south-western areas during winter and spring having impacted negatively on calf growth rates with larger supplies of lightweights currently available. Lower than usual feed levels, coupled with the weakness of the cattle industry currently has seen a weaker than usual demand for these classes from the restocker sector, while feeder demand is also cautious and conservative. The supplies of both trade weight yearling steers and heifers was again reasonably limited throughout all three weekly sales in WA with the weak conditions prompting vendors to hold onto cattle and try and find more lucrative marketing options. There was generally a plainer quality evident in both sexes with the cast majority of these having been purchased by the feeder sector.

The numbers of heavy weight steers, bullocks and heifers all remained limited. A weaker trade inquiry was recorded across the board and all three of these classes realised lower values. The cow market continued to fall under a restricted trade inquiry with processing facilities now operating at full capacity with little or no space available.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Supply remains relatively high

The supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS leading into the Christmas close down fell by 23%, nevertheless in the south of the state numbers still remained fairly high. The movement of stock in the north has virtually come to a standstill with sales at Longreach now completed for the year, and only a token number of stock came forward to the Mareeba sale. The overall standard of the young cattle mirrored the rapidly deteriorating seasonal conditions, while the grown cattle section contained a larger numbers of poor condition cows. Values for young stock could not maintain the previous week’s rates with losses of 10¢ and 20¢/kg very common in most markets. A handful of well presented vealers at Warwick went against this trend as local butchers battled to secure adequate supplies. Restocker's at Dalby also provide a bright spot in places and pushed prices along on some light weight well bred lines of yearling steers and heifers. However medium weight yearling steers to feed and slaughter lost 13¢ to 14¢, while the heifer portion fell in value by 4¢ to 10¢/kg.

The limited supply of steers and bullocks helped to keep price reductions to 2¢ to 3¢, however a fair consignment of certified grainfed manufacturing bullocks lost close to 10¢/kg. Cows in the lower fat score ranges fell in price by 5¢ to 8¢/kg nevertheless good heavy cows across all markets generally sold close to firm. As the dry conditions continue the hot weather has hit with full force on grain sorghum, markets have continued to firm particularly for new season, while advanced crops are progressing, the prospects of further plantings are now in doubt.

Values continue to fall

Calves to slaughter averaged close to 170¢ with sales to 188.2¢/kg. A small selection of C3 vealer steers averaged 4¢ cheaper at 174¢, while a fair sample of vealer heifers generally sold around 162¢, the occasional sale to local butchers at 199.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 156¢, with a large sample returning to the paddock at close to the previous week's level at 164¢/kg. Poor quality lines suffered the most to average 17¢ cheaper at 137¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 14¢ less at 148¢ and local trade descriptions 13¢ cheaper, at 154¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feeders averaged 11¢ less, at 147¢, while D muscle lines mostly sold in the 130¢/kg range. Medium weight grown steers to feed lost 18¢ to average 150¢ with sales to 153.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 155¢ and sold to 166¢, and good heavy bullocks made to 162¢ to average 156¢/kg. Certified grainfed manufacturing bullocks mostly sold around 143¢/kg. Medium weight score 1 cows averaged 7¢ cheaper at 86¢, 2 scores lost 7¢ to average 102¢/kg. Good heavy cows experienced very little change at an average of close to 125¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Good quality available

Only one full week of markets are left before a two week break from selling, which has influenced larger markets. Compared to the previous years the supply of cattle is still down, but because of the good season, a lot of very good quality cattle are coming onto the market. These factors, plus continued poor meat sales, resulted in demand again being weaker. While some markets did quote firm prices, the general trend was for a further fall in prices of 2c to 8c/kg. Much of the difference between price trends at sales reported by MLA’s NLRS, generally brought prices into line, after some sales were better than others over the past weeks. Despite some positive comment about overseas trade, grown cattle took another tumble with cheaper interstate prices being part of the cause. A daunting task is ahead of breeders, as vealer prices continue to create little enthusiasm to continue running cows and calves. The preference clearly lends toward boxed beef rather than prime quality grades. However, if more breeders go out of production, feedlots will have cause for concern. To quantify this situation, one only needs to look at the EYCI figure for the week, which was down to the lowest levels since October 2007, at 278.25c/kg. This was down another 13.25c/kg cwt.

More cattle over the coming week and continuing poor demand could see another fall prior to the long break, and producers will have to decide whether to hold off for three weeks, or sell at the poor rates.

Prices lower

With the exception some isolated sales, which were mostly singles, very good quality B muscle vealers made from 160c to 187c/kg. Equally, there were many sales of good quality yearlings that only made from 145c to 165c/kg. Where some of the very cheap meat is coming from are the plainer D muscle yearling heifers, grown heifers, and even some cows. Some of these females are of good quality, but only made from 110c to 145c/kg. There has been some extra restocker activity at sales, as traditional store sale prices remain quite a bit higher than fat sales. This has seen some useful to good quality steers make from 140c to 175c, and heifers from 135c to 155c/kg. Feedlots are still competing, but with most companies not wanting to introduce cattle close to or over Christmas, purchases are fewer.

More bullocks were sold, and some of these were very heavy weighing up to 800kg lwt. Overall, prices were from 139c to 156c with an average of only 146c/kg. Better quality beef cows made anywhere between 110c and 136c, but the cow average was near to 113c/kg. The carcass weight price average was around 235c/kg.

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