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 1 October 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

VIC weekly cattle summary

Numbers up slightly

Supply state-wide increased by 7 per cent, due mainly to northern and western markets being up to 20 per cent higher, with fewer cattle offered in Gippsland. Shepparton led the way with a suitably large yarding of both young and grown cattle. The end of September normally sees larger supplies of cattle and cheaper prices; however this year seems to be an exception.

While price quotations at MLA’s NLRS reported sales were mixed, overall averages were unchanged, with some cows selling at cheaper rates. Price trends did vary between markets, and although some of this was due to quality changes, it was also due to the size of sales, and competition changes. At Pakenham young cattle sale there were fewer cattle, and although the quality was mixed a lot of good to very good quality cattle were sold.

What lifted prices at this sale was demand for the small supply of vealers, and the emergence of an additional major supermarket as a competitor. Heifer prices lifted by 6c, and at Warrnambool heifers were quoted up to 16c/kg higher. So any negative changes were equalized, which assisted the EYCI figure to remain near the four year high, at 374.50c/kg cwt. This was 2.25c/kg cwt higher week on week.

Yearling cattle in general sold very well, as did bullocks and cows. However, cow prices faltered later in the week by up to 5c/kg, but at Camperdown sale last Tuesday, very poor quality and weaker demand saw this sale fall the most. Prices were quoted up to 10c/kg cheaper. The carcass weight price average at Camperdown was 285c, against the state average of 302c/kg for the week.

Vealer demand strong

The very strong demand for vealers at Pakenham saw a top price of 240c/kg paid for a single beast. However, it was the percentage of vealers that made between 195c and 235c/kg that set a higher trend. Most markets were reported with a good supply of good through to top quality cattle in all classes and grades. Only Warrnambool was quoted as still suffering from the winter blues, and tendering a reasonably plain selection of cattle. Across the state, better quality vealers made from 178c to 240c, and averaged 198c/kg. Sales of top quality supplementary fed yearlings were as high as 235c with most between 190c and 215c/kg. Across the state there was a lot of yearling steers in very good condition that made between 185c and 205c, and similarly finished heifers made from 175c to 202c/kg.

A larger supply of good quality bullocks made from 183c to 195c with 0 teeth steers to 202c/kg. Quality at cow sales has been very mixed with a lot of good quality beef cows making from 145c to 168c/kg. A large supply of plainer condition dairy cows made between 125c and 152c, but with Camperdown’s poor yarding lightweight cows were from 35c to 130c/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased numbers

There were increased numbers of mainly young cattle in good quality runs at the SALE where 740 (or 246 head more) sold erratically to the usual trade and processor buyers, with local butchers and wholesalers sourcing the small number of vealers offered at lower levels.

Feeder orders were also active on mainly light and medium weighted yearling steers and heifers and lowering their rates for the steers. Trade purchases B muscled yearling steer sales tended to be dearer, while being cheaper for the C3 heavyweights. Most yearling heifers were cheaper as most sales slipped back below 190¢/kg. A few more cows sold to processors at slightly dearer levels. Naracoorte’s young cattle sale featured 1,108 head and was 96 head fewer in very good quality runs that sold to the usual SA, NSW and Victorian buyers, with only limited numbers selling to feeder and restocker orders.

Limited numbers of B muscled vealer steers were dearer, with a single pen of B muscled vealer heifers 225¢/kg. The C3 yearling steers in heavyweighted runs were unchanged, while the C3 heifers in large lines weighing mainly over 400kgs were slightly cheaper. Large numbers of medium and heavyweighted grown steers sold to marginally dearer levels for the medium weights, while being cheaper for the heavyweights.

Mt. Gambier numbers rose by 112 to 2,374 head in mixed quality runs that did feature good quality supplies of over 900 grown steer. The usual buyers were operating as most categories sold at basically unchanged rates, with feeder and restocker orders sourcing mainly vealers and yearling steers and heifers.

Erratic trends

There were erratic trends this week particularly for young cattle, while the export categories remained basically unchanged despite a rising A$. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 194¢ to 238¢ with some sales dearer and others cheaper. The heifer portion sold to the trade between 190¢ and 225¢, with B muscled cheaper and the C muscled dearer. The C3 yearling steers were slightly cheaper as most sold from 175¢ to 210¢, with B muscled sales up to 230¢/kg. Feeder orders sourced C2 and C3 steers from 153¢ to 192¢/kg at slightly lower levels. The C3 yearling heifers were generally 3¢ to 5¢ cheaper, with the medium and heavyweights selling from 155¢ to 192¢kg.

Grown steer C3 and C4 sales ranged mostly between 171¢ and 196¢ to remain virtually unchanged and averaging close to 335/kg cwt statewide. Larger lines of D3 and C3 grown heifers sold from 156¢ to 185¢ to be 1¢ to 2¢/kg dearer to mainly processor competition. Most D2 to C4 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 122¢ to 166¢ to vary a few cents either side of unchanged, and mainly 275¢ to 320¢/kg cwt. Restocker purchases of D2 medium weights were from 144.5¢ to 151¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Fine days double supply

A couple of fine days and the ground just dry enough in places allowed a few more producers to move stock, and the supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS doubled the previous week's level. The return of Longreach and the Roma prime sale back into the selling program following the cancellations the previous week due to the wet conditions helped lift supply, nevertheless numbers still remained relatively low. Buyer attendance at most markets was generally good with all major export processors present and operating, plus the usual line-up of trade feeder and restocker buyers. The overall standard was generally good to useful and this was reflected in some of the price increases.

A positive start to spring’s growing season clearly motivated restocker buyers and values climbed a further 7¢/kg on top of the improvements in recent weeks. With a few more cattle being penned feeder operators displayed an urgency to keep stock in the feed pens and values lifted by 20¢/kg on medium weight classes. A relatively good supply of lightweight yearling heifers came forward and despite the numbers penned feeder operators plus local and southern processors were able to absorb the numbers penned plus lift average prices in places.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter met a firm to a dearer trend and across all markets bullocks improved by 3¢/kg. However by midweek at Dalby a combination of a better quality yarding and strong processors support average prices gained 9¢/kg. A part from some variations to average prices in places due to quality cows generally sold to a strong enquiring.

Feeder and restockers dearer

Calves returning to the paddock made to 248.2¢ to average 228¢ while trade descriptions sold around 217¢ with the occasional sale to 249.2¢/kg. Vealer steers mostly sold close to 208¢ with a fair line-up of B muscle lines averaging 227¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade lifted in price with a good selection averaging 217¢ with sales to 235.2¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock made to the occasional 253.2¢ with a fair number around 7¢ dearer at 226¢/kg. Lightweight lines to feed averaged 5¢ better at 211¢ while medium weights gained over 20¢ to average close to 208¢ with some to 222.6¢/kg. Heavy feeder descriptions sold to a market 15¢ dearer at 196¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to the trade generally sold around 203¢ with some to 228.2¢ and feeder categories in the largest numbers averaged around 199¢/kg.

Medium weight classes to the trade averaged 187¢, and D muscle lines sold just under 160¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 186¢ and a fair selection of bullocks generally sold around 190¢ with some to 198.2¢/kg. A small sample of plain condition cows sold to restockers at 152¢, and 3 scores to processors averaged 138¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to the occasional 171.2¢ with most around 154¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Spring numbers emerge

Saleyard numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported centres in NSW increased by over 30 per cent on last week as numbers begin to flow into the major centres. The small yarding in Inverell last week due the rain meant numbers that were held over came forward this week and contributed to the yarding tripling in size. Gunnedah and Tamworth also had larger yardings due to the same reason while Wagga reached 3,000 head. Dubbo numbers pushed 5,000 head although the draw was over 6,000 head. With some likely held over, a further 2,800 head were yarded at Friday’s store sale.

The Central West has experienced one of the best winter seasons for a number of years. Consistent substantial rainfall has allowed those early sown grazing crops to flourish and provide substantial feed for livestock. In addition to grazing crops, there has also been good pasture growth, with both these factors allowing producers to finish stock earlier than usual.

Crops in the area are looking good, with the only downside potential rust and the anticipation of locust hatchings. Many early planted cereals are coming out in head with croppers anticipating a much needed good harvest. Cattle turnoff has been fairly steady with an increase registered in the previous couple of weeks. The additional feed supply has been reflected in the increased number of quality finished cattle through the yard. Restockers have been active on unfinished young cattle along with store condition cows, in the hope of utilising the extra feed. Cow quality state-wide has been a standout with a larger proportion of heavy weights and 4 scores.

Prices mixed

Unfinished light cattle continue to ride the wave of restocker strength with very dear cents per kilogram prices again being paid, particularly at Armidale. Quality and condition seems to be overruled by mouths on the ground with restockers paying up to 265¢ for steers and 230¢/kg for heifers to return to paddock in the New England. The number of light cattle offered was also higher as vendors look to cash in on the current rates being offered. Calves reached 270¢ at Dubbo and young light steers 268¢/kg at Casino.

Restocker vealer steers averaged 220¢/kg state-wide. Vealer heifers picked up in value and averaged 219¢/kg across all grades which pits them closer behind steers than usual. Medium weight C muscled yearling steers were firm to all buying sectors, with restockers, lotfeeders and processors all paying around the 202¢/kg mark. Similar grades of yearling heifers averaged around 190¢/kg.

Grown steer and cow prices remained strong considering the exchange rates. Medium and heavy weight grown steers along with bullocks all made around the 174¢ to 186¢, with a top price of 199.2¢/kg. Cows averaged 135¢ to 155¢ for D2 and D3s, with heavy D4s making 155¢ to a top of 177¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Dry season drives turnoff

The severe seasonal conditions have continued to decline across the majority of the state with little or no rainfall yet again recorded. Conditions in the pastoral regions in the north of the state remain in drought status with temperatures now on the rise and feed conditions extremely poor. Pastoralists continue to shift those animals that are capable of travel down to southern markets where there were larger supplies seen this week in physical markets.

The southern Ag districts of WA remain in a state of limbo. Many eastern areas have now begun to cut cereal crops for hay in an effort to reap some reward for effort with a vast majority of crops tipped to be un-harvestable this season with every dry day further impacting this situation. The tradition cattle growing areas of the southwest remain tight despite reasonable pasture levels, but water levels continue to be reported as critical and well below average levels for this time of year. Forecasts predict little or no change in what has become almost a summer weather pattern with hope for rainfall becoming increasingly desperate.

Many producers throughout the Ag districts have already offloaded stock in an attempt to maximise their feed levels throughout the dry summer months. Many yearling steers were sold to the live export trade early when it was realised there would not be enough feed to finish them. Lightweight vealer sales continue to rise also, while cow and calf units have also seen solid sale levels. Thankfully for WA demand from the eastern states has remained high.

Larger vealer supplies on market

The poor season continues to influence producers to off load lightweight new season calves. This trend will only increase in the next few weeks irrespective of what rainfall, if any is received. All saleyards had increased supplies of new season lightweight calves with agents reporting solid sales of both lightweight calves and cow and calf units to the eastern states on farm, which has again been a blessing from the WA market. The majority of sales remained between 220 to 280kg lwt with very few heavier calves being seen. Demand from eastern states and local restockers remained relatively similar to the previous week’s quotes for both steer and heifer drafts. Trade weight yearling quality remained very mixed with supplies slightly weaker than the previous week. Rates were marginally lower than the previous week for both steers and heifer but this could be attributed to the lower quality. Medium and heavier store yearlings enjoyed a solid feeder demand that saw these rates rise slightly on the average.

There was little change in the supply, demand or pricing of heavy weight export local steers. Cow supplies were solid and local grades remained similar, while the solid volumes of pastoral grades saw heavy discounting.

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