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 21 May 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Large cow numbers

Cattle throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported markets increased nine per cent as most centres recorded similar or increased supply. The only yard to record any significant decline was Bairnsdale. Supply is currently 10 per cent higher than the corresponding time last year.

Young cattle accounted for just 38 per cent while grown cattle were dominated by cows. Of the young cattle offered, heifers were in slightly greater numbers compared to steers, while it was a fairly even split between vealers and yearlings. Grown steers represented 27 per cen of the grown cattle and highlighting the amount of cows offered was the fact they almost out numbered the young cattle supply.

Quality was varied across, and within, categories as the season tapers off. Most of the regular buyers were present although demand was not as strong as recent weeks. Feeder and restockers purchased 43 per cent of the young cattle. Processors were selective at times which was a factor in the overall trend for young cattle being rather mixed.

Finished grown steers at some centres were in short supply as fair runs of 3 scores were offered. Bullock quality was generally good. Prices though for grown steers and bullocks were mostly firm to slightly cheaper, dependant on quality. The decline in the A$ during the past week has somewhat offset the larger numbers of grown cattle particular cows which in some instanced were not able to maintain recent high prices.

Young cattle and grown steer direct to works rates remained unchanged, while cows and bulls realised a small rise. Young cattle rates should hold firm in the coming months due to feedlots supplying a steady stream of finished yearlings.

Mixed prices

Medium weight vealer steers to feeders averaged 186¢ as most returning to the paddock sold from 181¢ to 192¢kg. Heavy well muscled vealer steers topped at 229¢ with most selling closer to 214¢/kg. Heavy C3s eased 3¢ to 192¢ after selling to 209¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to the trade averaged 181¢ to be slightly dearer as those to feeders fell 9¢ to 171¢/kg. Heavy B muscle vealer heifers reached 224¢ as a fair number sold from 196¢ to 212¢/kg. Heavy C3s to slaughter remained unchanged at 185¢/kg. Medium and heavy yearling steers to feeders mostly sold from 175¢ to 182¢/kg. The few medium weight C3s gained 6¢ to 188¢ as heavy weights slipped 3¢ to 179¢/kg while the heifer portion remained unchanged at 172.5¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers lifted 4¢ to 177¢ as the heavy weights eased 1¢ to 180¢kg. Good heavy C4s averaged 180¢ as the better bullocks sold closer to 178¢/kg. Most of the medium weight D3 and D4 beef cows sold from 141¢ to 147¢ to be a couple of cents cheaper as the heavy D4s suffered a similar fall to average 150¢/kg. Medium weight 1 and 2 score dairy cows sold close to firm to generally sell around 125¢ as large runs of heavyweights sold from 125¢ to 132¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

While cattle numbers remained small at the SA LE, there was an increased yarding at Naracoorte. Mt. Gambier’s numbers also increased while Millicent’s numbers retreated head for its fortnightly sale.

The increased South East numbers are probably due to the strong processor demand over a wide range of categories to keep working at full throttle before numbers really start to retreat. Such was their strong demand for cows at Naracoorte and to a lesser extent at Mt. Gambier that most other buyers tended to leave empty handed as many sales rose above the 160¢/kg mark, with young medium weights peaking at 173¢/kg. However, a weakening A$ and the high US grinding beef prices are probably the catalyst needed for this solid demand as carcase weight prices rose well over the 300¢/kg mark for most 2 to 5 score beef cows.

The SA LE’s yarding was of quite mixed quality on the young cattle that limited competition from an interstate wholesaler, with a couple of processors not operating cows.

Naracoorte’s sale featured yet another improvement in quality as more supplementary feds were offered that sold to the usual SA and Victorian buyers, with feeder orders also active.

Mt. Gambier and Millicent’s young cattle were of quite plain quality and perhaps should have been sold at the very dear Mt. Gambier store sale the previous Friday. Once again cows at both sales generally sold at dearer levels.

Fluctuating trends

Vealer steers in limited sales to the trade sold from 179¢ to 211¢ with some sales 6¢ dearer and others 7¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers sourced C2 and D2 steers from 166¢ to 200¢ at fluctuating prices. Vealer heifers also in limited purchases to the trade and local butchers sold from 155¢ to 214¢ on a mixture of mainly C and D muscled heifers with lightweights mainly dearer and the heavyweights 3¢ to 13¢/kg cheaper. Yearling C3 steer sales were basically unchanged at 167¢ to 192¢ to wholesale competition with many having been supplementary fed. Feeder and restocker orders secured C2 and C3 steers from 158¢ to 192¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were from 160¢ to 192¢ at rates unchanged to 2¢ cheaper, with D3 sales 155¢ to 176¢ at dearer levels as the trade tried to source increased numbers.

Medium weight grown steers were 1¢ to 5¢ dearer, while heavy steers were slightly cheaper as C2 to C4 sales ranged mainly between 165¢ and 188¢ or 325¢ to 350¢/kg cwt. Cows were mainly 1¢ to 12¢ dearer, with most D2 to C5 beef sales 115¢ to 169¢, and mainly in a 275¢ to 330¢/kg cwt price range.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Dry weather maintains supply

Frosts on the ground combined with the deterioration in seasonal conditions across a number of areas in the state helped maintain supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS at close to the previous weeks high-level.

The recent frosts have affected livestock condition, and overall quality is declining. Larger lines of plain condition cattle dominating the yarding at Roma, and there was a noticeable fall in the overall standard of the cows penned at Warwick. Typical of this time of the year big numbers of calves are coming forward and some large samples are being sold open auction.

Most selling centres received good buyer representation with the majority of export processors in attendance, however not all were operating. Young cattle varied in places according to quality, most of the steers met strong demand however the heifer portion tended to meet a subdued market and values moved to cheaper levels. Vealer heifers when against this trend and regardless of the sizeable numbers penned values generally held within 2¢/kg of the previous week’s level. Despite the large numbers of suitable cattle penned feeder operators provided a base in the market and values generally remained fully firm with some large lines at Dalby experiencing a small rise.

Heavy steers and bullocks met solid demand. Prices achieved for cows varied from centre to centre commencing the week improving by 3¢ to 6¢/kg, while the large drop in quality of cows at Warwick saw values lose some ground. However across the state the weakening A$ generally maintained strong demand and values in places experienced some improvement.

Export values generally firm

The vast majority of the calves returned to the paddock around 203¢ with a few sales recorded to 230¢/kg. Vealer steers to restocker's made to 212.2¢ with a good sample averaging 196¢/kg. A large sample of vealer heifers to the trade virtually remained unchanged in value at 171¢ with a handful of B muscle grades to local butchers reaching 208¢/kg. The fall in the quality of the lightweight yearling steers to restocker's resulted in average prices easing by close to 10¢ to average 198¢ while quality lines made to 220¢/kg. The large numbers of both medium and heavy yearling steers to feed maintained average prices in the mid 180¢/kg range with a few well bred lines reaching 194.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed generally sold around 176¢ and medium weights 165¢/kg.
A large sample of good heavy bullocks experienced no change in value at 175¢ with some to the wholesale meat trade reaching 185.2¢/kg. Cows received strong restocker demand and averaged in the mid 120¢/kg range. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 111¢ and 3 scores 129¢/kg. The large supply of good heavy cows across all markets averaged 4¢ better at 141¢ a few sales to 153¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Cold weather having an effect

With colder weather having an impact and very little significant rainfall west of the mountains for a number of weeks supply at MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets remained relatively steady with producers continuing to consolidate stock numbers heading into winter.

There were some variations in yardings across the state. Armidale had a fall in throughput by 23 per cent while Scone, Singleton and Wagga also experienced reduced yardings. Dubbo largely counterbalanced this with an increase of 34 per cent which mostly consisted of yearling steers suitable to lot feeders and grown cattle. This was the trend across the state with cows by far having the largest representation. The offering at Casino however, mostly comprised of lightweight vealers selling at improved prices.

The quality of cattle continues to become plainer; fodder oats and pastures are in need of some moisture if they are to carry stock through the coming months. Many producers could also use a shower of rain to kick start winter cereal crops. Very few finished trade cattle were offered, most vealers were C2’s more suited to feeders and restockers. Yearling steers also mainly consisted of C2’s although there was a decent proportion of 3 score yearling heifers.

Grown steer supply was steady and fewer cows were offered. The majority of the cows are D2, 3 and 4 scores going to processors. Medium weights to slaughter struggled to make the same prices as last week however restockers paid similar money. Heavyweights were sought after and maintained prices firm to a little dearer.

Prices vary with quality

Restockers accounted for the majority of vealer steer purchases, lightweights reached averages of up to 14¢ dearer with C2’s averaging 202¢/kg. Medium weight vealer steers were also dearer averaging around 196¢ and topping at 213¢/kg. Processors were active on the vealer heifers at prices firm to 3¢/kg cheaper. Medium weight C2 to slaughter ranged from 146¢ to 192¢ to mostly sell around 172¢/kg. Restockers paid similar rates for medium weight C2 vealer heifers which averaged 173¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling steers to restockers mostly sold 2¢ dearer at 187¢ while medium weights slipped 1¢ to 182¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers to lot feeders sold firm at 184¢ however C3’s improved 6¢ ranging from 172¢ to 201¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling heifers mostly sold to a cheaper trend. Medium weights to feed and processors were cheaper mainly selling in the late 160¢ range while heavyweights to slaughter sold 2¢ dearer mostly around 171¢/kg.

Grown steers to processors were mainly cheaper, medium weights were back 1¢ and heavyweights 3¢ at 177¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders were firm to 3¢ dearer ranging from 169¢ to 177¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows were 3¢ cheaper at 128¢, heavyweights improved 1¢ to 3¢, D3’s averaged 141¢ and D4’s 146¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Store demand maintained

There has been some reasonable falls in the Pilbara but despite this conditions across much of the northern pastoral regions continues to remain very dry. The dry conditions also continue in the southern corner of state with supplementary hand feeing still a major part of each day for cattle producers. Pasture levels remain low and this combined with the current solid market conditions continues to see a solid turn off of locally bred agricultural cattle.

The dry conditions in the north and the very tight feed conditions have impacted strongly on cattle quality and strength and subsequently there are remain reports that many are not strong enough to truck. It is expected however that when the restriction on numbers is lifted at the new Muchea facility that there will be a sharp rise in plain condition pastoral cattle with discussions already taking place in regard to running further special pastoral sales outside of the normal roster system.

Supply remained solid at all the weekly sales and added store sales. As has been the case for some months now the majority of all yardings were made up of grades of young store cattle. Heavy weight steer, bullock and mature heavy heifer supplies were all very limited. Cow volumes remained fair with trade weight yearling volumes only fair.

Processor demand across the classes remained firm, while the strong live export demand of the last couple of weeks was quieter. Feeder and restocker interest were again very strong.

Strong demand from sectors

The vast majority of yearling cattle remained in store condition. As has been recorded in recent times there was a lack of overall weight and quality. The heavier end of the store market continued to receive very strong feeder demand with heavy weights targeted. This week was the first time this year that rates for store yearlings broke through the 200c/kg mark with the market peaking at 204c/kg. Lightweight store cattle saw a firm market reported on both steer and heifer lines. The majority of trade weight yearlings were grain finished. Market conditions remain similar with firm competition realised from the local trade and feeder sectors as has been realised for some weeks now. Grass finished drafts of trade weights were of a continued mixed and plain condition. These also remained equal with the majority purchased for feed lots.

Heavy weight steers, bullocks and heavy weight boning room heifers also realised dearer rates under an improved processor competition and demand. The cow market maintained its buoyancy with prime heavy weight cows seeing average pushing up toward 140c/kg. The heavy bull market saw rates rebound to dearer levels.

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