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 26 February 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Large lift in supply

A combination of the recent improvement to prices and the ground drying out enough to shift stock caused numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS to lift by a massive 57 per cent. Supply at Mareeba doubled and with rain easing around the Maranoa region a fair number of stock were available at the Roma prime sale.

Restocker and feeder descriptions dominated the selling pens in the young cattle sections with only relatively small samples of local trade classes penned. However export slaughter lines of heavy steers and bullocks were well represented both in supply and quality. The recent improvement to seasonal conditions was reflected in the quality of the cows penned with the largest numbers in the 3 and 4 score ranges.

Buyer representation at most markets was generally good. The current season being experienced in a number of districts resulted in a strong restocker presents in the market, and with feeder operators displaying an urgency to purchase light and medium weight yearling steers values improved. However feeder grades in the heavy weight range could not maintain the high rates of recent weeks and average prices eased 3¢/kg with only straight lines of well bred categories receiving strong demand. Despite the large number of medium weight yearling heifers penned feeder buyers were able to absorb the increase in supply plus lift the average buying price. Heavy steers and bullocks generally maintained the improved rates experienced the previous week, and full mouth bullocks also received strong demand. Cows met improved competition from processors with average prices improving by a further 2¢/kg.

Cows dearer

Calves to the trade generally sold in the 180¢/kg range, while those returning to the paddock made to 229.2¢ to average 196¢/kg. Vealer steers made to restocker's made to the occasional 219.2¢ while feeder descriptions averaged 194¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade regained the previous week’s losses and averaged 6¢ dearer at 181¢ with a few B muscle lines reaching 212¢/kg. A large sample of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 202¢ with sales to 220¢, while feeder descriptions averaged 190¢/kg. Medium weight C2 feeders averaged 190¢, while heavyweights averaged close to 184¢ with only well bred lines to 192¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to both feed and restocker's averaged 176¢ with sales to 185.2¢/kg. A large sample of medium weight lines to feed averaged 175¢ and sold to 186.2¢/kg. Slaughter descriptions lost ground by 7¢ to average 164¢ with sales to 186.6¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 180¢ while the bullock portion made to 190.2¢ with a large sample averaging 179¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 119¢ and 3 scores 130¢/kg. A large number of good heavy cows averaged 2¢ better at 144¢ with the occasional sale to 156.2¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Supply and competition strong

After throughput was reduced significantly last week by rain, yardings this week grew 35 per cent at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. The most significant increases were realised at Forbes where numbers increased close to 250 per cent, Gunnedah numbers almost trebled and Wagga where throughput increased 79 per cent. Despite the better seasonal conditions in the last half of the month numbers for the whole of February are 25 per cent up on last year.

Quality across the state remains mixed with some producers opting to offload unfinished cattle in a bid to take advantage of the higher prices. However, there are many good quality runs exhibiting the recent improvements in the season. In some markets vealers and yearling steers suitable to the trade are becoming hard to source. There has been in increase in the number of plainer quality cows and a good percentage of yearlings suitable to restockers and lotfeeders.

Competition from all sectors remains strong across all grades with restockers continuing to make their presence felt in the market. The usual field of processors and lotfeeders were active. Lotfeeders were particularly competitive in Armidale despite the larger yarding as a result the market was able to maintain recent price levels.

Prices across the indicator grades varied, as medium weight C2 vealers to restockers were 3¢ cheaper while those going to the trade were up 2¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers to restockers remained firm to average 184.6¢ while those to feeders lost 3¢ to average 179.1¢/kg. Grown steers remained firm to slightly dearer while cows on the other hand were 2¢ to 3¢/kg cheaper.

Up and down prices

Prices for calves slipped with those to restockers slipping 3¢ for D2’s and 14¢/kg for C2’s. Prices for vealer steers were generally cheaper, restockers mostly paid around 205.4¢ for lightweight C2’s, which was 7¢/kg lower. Those going to the trade also eased to average 197.9¢/kg. The few heavyweight vealer steers returning to the paddock reached 199¢ to realise gains of 19¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade were also cheaper across all weight categories with the medium weights slipping 8¢/kg.

Most yearling categories followed the cheaper trend. Lightweight steers to restockers lost 2¢ on last week to average 187¢/kg. Those going to feeders ranged from 153.2¢ to 198.2¢ to finish 8¢/kg lower overall. Medium and heavyweight categories were also cheaper with those going to processors suffering the largest falls. Lightweight yearling heifers followed the cheaper trend, although, medium and heavyweights to the trade and feed were 1¢ to 3¢/kg stronger.

Grown steer prices were firm to 4¢ dearer with C2 medium weights to lotfeeders receiving the biggest gains, to average 170.8¢/kg. Most categories of cows sold to a varied trend as medium weights to restockers lost 3¢ while those to processors were unchanged at 130¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Smaller numbers

Cattle prices were indifferent stat-wide during the week. The SA LE’s larger yarding featured mixed quality runs selling to fluctuating demand from the regular trade and processor buyers, as most categories attracted a mainly weaker trend and only isolated sales being dearer. There were limited numbers of vealer offered, these tending to sell to wholesale and local butcher competition. Feeder orders sourced the majority of yearling steers at mainly lower rates, with the lightweight heifers being dearer. Small numbers of grown steers and cows failed to attract that much interest, with a restocker order paying the highest price for D1 lightweight cows.

This was a far cry from Naracoorte’s slightly reduced yarding that sold to a dearer trend from the usual buying fraternity despite quality being mixed on the young cattle and grown steers. Cows were in generally good quality runs of 3 to 6 scores that sold to very strong SA and Victorian processor at dearer levels.

Mt. Gambier featured larger numbers of good quality grown steers and bullocks. Cow prices were very buoyant, with even 6 scores selling at 150¢/kg. The sale sold to strong competition from the usual buyers as most categories continued to attract dearer prices.

Millicent’s similar sized yarding was offered despite last week’s dearer priced sale could not prise more stock out of the paddocks; if they are still there.

Mainly dearer trend

The dearer South Eastern prices tended to lead to most categories selling at dearer levels due to the strong Victorian demand. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 172¢ to 220¢ for the B muscled, and 162¢ to 200¢ for the C muscled at rates generally 3¢ to 11¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders secured C2 steers from 172¢ to 188¢, or 8¢ to 11¢/kg more. Vealer heifers to trade inquiry sold from 155¢ to 205¢ at prices 2¢ to 16¢/kg dearer. Yearling steer sales to the trade were mainly between 160¢ and 190¢ or 5¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders paid generally from 145¢ to 186¢/kg for C2 steers at fluctuating prices. Yearling heifer C3 sales were from as low as 135¢ at the SA LE, while being from 160¢ to 178¢ in the South East at prices unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers and bullocks were 5¢ to 14¢ dearer, with C3 to C5 sales mainly 164¢ to 185¢/kg and carcase weight prices averaging close to 310¢/kg statewide. Cows were 3¢ to 16¢ dearer with beef 2 to 6 scores selling between 105¢ to 150¢/kg, and most carcase weights in a 245¢ to 290¢/kg price range.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Tight supplies

Even though the supply of trade and export cattle was slightly larger by 10%, processors have commented that there is a shortage of suitable cattle for boxed beef, trade bodies and cattle for export at the moment. Some processors are not operating to full capacity, or are working shorter days, fewer days, or only doing single shifts. Even though supply was larger, Victoria, NSW and Queensland are still tendering fewer cattle for sale, year on year.

As the saleyard prices have risen dramatically over the past two weeks, physical prices are outstripping over the hooks rates. This is seeing more cattle being sold at traditional markets, further compounding issues for processors as they face competition from feeders, restockers and smaller operators. The end result was further increases of between 3¢ and 12¢/kg over all sales.

Vealers and grown steers have realised some very good rises, after these classes of cattle suffered in the doldrums for many weeks. Four weeks ago you could not get near 200¢/kg for vealers, and now there are many sales well and truly over this figure with the top price reaching 220¢/kg. The price increases for trade cattle not just in Victoria, but across the eastern states assisted the EYCI to lift 2.75¢ to 338.75¢/kg cwt.

The prime grown steer and bullock fattening area of South Gippsland offered nearly 1,000 head across a couple of centres. Once again, the prices achieved were much better. All other cattle have sold well including cows and bulls, which previously have sold poorly due to the value of the A$.

Improving prices

While most districts of Victoria are seasonally winding back their vealer numbers, good supplies are still available in Gippsland. This was where the highest prices were achieved with a good number of quality vealers making from 180¢ to 215¢/kg at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. Plenty of young cattle made from 150¢ to 196¢/kg, and some of the higher prices were achieved for some very heavy yearling steers.

This high price for heavy steers coincided with higher bullocks prices which made up to 184¢/kg. Extra competition at Leongatha aided a very healthy average of 172¢/kg for grown steers.

Cow prices have been slowly increasing, although this was mainly the better quality beef cows up until this week. Strong demand for cows to fill slaughter space resulted in the carcass weight price average lift to 260¢/kg as some of the larger frame lean cows averaged closer to 275¢/kg. Liveweight prices for better quality cows made between 122¢ and 146¢ with younger cows reaching 154¢/kg. Most of the leaner 1 and 2 score cows made from 105¢ to 132¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Dry continues in Gascoyne

The dry that has plagued pastoralists in the Gascoyne and Murchison regions remains with drought conditions now apparent. Further to the north the Kimberley continued to record a reasonable wet season, while further to the south the agricultural regions again endured hot and dry conditions. There were some light falls of rain on the far south coast, but again the prolonged dry spell in the lower Great Southern remains and is having a detrimental affect on perennials and dam water levels. Many producers in the south have begun supplementary feeding of their herd with early calving in full swing.

Cattle supplies in the south are beginning to dwindle with this week being the last of the two-day sales format in the Great Southern with the vast majority of vealers having now been sold as next week returns to a one day sale held on the Thursday.

Saleyard numbers lifted predominately due to an increase in Midland’s supplies with the southwest and Great Southern yarding remaining similar to the previous week. Heavy weight steers, bullocks and heifers all remained in very limited supply, while there was also a reasonably tight supply of trade weight yearlings. This is not surprising given the numbers of trade weight yearling steers the live export sectors has purchased in recent times.

Store numbers were larger with the vast majority of cattle sold through saleyards sourced from local districts with very limited numbers of pastoral cattle included. Trade demand remains conservative throughout the classes with limited change in prices.

Eastern orders active

As the supplies of vealers subsides feeder and restocker demand increases incrementally. Rates remained in line with the higher values witnessed the previous week. Demand was once again from the eastern states. The limited supplies of trade weight yearling steers and heifers remained of mixed quality. Trade demand was fair, but quality continues to impact competition and subsequently steer rates were recorded at lower levels, while heifer rates were more insulated from any price falls. Store yearling demand was increased slightly with the dwindling supplies of vealers creating more interest for these types from the feeder and restocker sectors.

Heavy steer and bullock rates were marginally dearer, but the increase was only slight and the small supplies must also be taken into account. The recent large turnoff of cows continues across the agricultural districts. The strong supplies of cows currently on the market saw a weakening of the market early in the week and opposed to the rises recorded towards the end of last week. Demand for heavy weight bulls continues to fluctuate with rates over all similar to last week. Lightweight classes continue to be met by a reasonable live export and export feeder demand.

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