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 November 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

WA weekly cattle summary

Numbers again higher

Conditions in the Kimberley region remain reasonable, while for areas further south the situation remains predominately dry to drought conditions particularly throughout the Murchison and Gascoyne regions. The Southern Ag districts continue with harvest which was interrupted this week by hot and humid weather and associated thunderstorms which brought wide spread rainfall of varying degrees. Apart from interrupting harvesting activity there was no benefit from this rainfall. Yields reports have come in as they were expected to given the very dry season this year with tonnages well below average and most below forecasts released just months ago. This has seen pressure applied to the market with most grades of grain seeing dearer price levels advertised and this continues to pressurise the WA feeder sector. Pasture and water levels continue to be a problem across much of WA and this again saw very large numbers of cattle turned off properties again this week. Saleyard volumes remained very large with the Great Southern sale at Mt Barker again seeing larger supplies of new season vealers penned. Muchea's yarding again included very large supplies of lightweight calves, despite the total being lower than extreme of the previous week.

Trade weight yearling supplies remained relative with heavy weight steer and heifer numbers again extreme limited. There was once again a very strong turnoff of cows into saleyards this week with a good spread of numbers seen throughout the classes. Trade demand remains buoyant with a reasonable representation again seen from the eastern states processor sector.

Vealer demand remains strong

There was little or no change in the make up of vealer yardings as heavy weight classes remained in limited supply. Light and medium weight classes were again largest classes of cattle to be sold this week. Demand for heavy weight claves remained stable from the trade and feeder sectors. Medium and lightweight classes of both steers and heifer were also well supported by local restockers and feeders with a limited and selective eastern states competition also realised. The majority of values were very solid, but despite this there was a slight fall in some classes. Trade weight grass finished yearling quality remained mixed. Prime grades were sold in tight supply and the rates for both steers and heifers saw little change in demand or rates from either the local trade or feeder sectors. A similar set of circumstances was seen in heavy weight steers and bullocks. Rates were unchanged with supplies once again very limited. This was also the case in heavy weight mature heifer classes.

There were good numbers of heavy weight cows available. Competition from local and eastern states processors saw prime grades strengthen very slightly, while lightweight sales rose to the restocker sector.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Grown cattle showing season

An interesting result came from markets reported by MLA's NLRS with grown cattle making up around 45 per cent of the total number recorded. While the supply of cattle was 10 per cent larger overall, some markets were larger, particularly Shepparton, Wodonga and Camperdown. While in Gippsland, Pakenham and Leongatha sales were smaller, there was a significant lift in the supply of grown steers and bullocks. Markets in the north east of the state also added to this scenario.

Despite this lift in supply, demand was strong and prices were unchanged to 4c/kg dearer. The only bullocks to suffer a price decline were extra heavy and conditioned bullocks. These bullocks weighed from 720kg up to, and over 800kgs lwt, and were 2c to 11c/kg cheaper. Continuing on with grown cattle, and significant numbers of grown heifers and cows were sold, and prices were unchanged to dearer here also.

Some very good quality bullocks and cows were penned, but with the good season comes fat cover. A good percentage of these were 4 and 5 score grades with some cows heavyweight 6 scores. Some were discounted for this, although some sold very well. Disparity occurred in bull prices between saleyards. Price for top quality A and B muscle bulls varied nearly 30c/kg.

Young cattle generally sold at firm to dearer rates with the demand for heifers from one order in particular having a significant impact on prices. Some vealers sold to easing trends, but most of the vealers and yearlings were 2c to 5c/kg dearer. Feedlots and restockers were very active purchasing around 20 per cent of the yardings.

Strong prices

Prices were a boon to producers, partly due to the higher rates, but also due to the weight of cattle. Because of the very good season cattle are weighing very well, and dressing percentages are higher. The best quality vealers made 233c with most B and C muscle vealers from 180c to 220c/kg. The average for all reported by the NLRS was 203c/kg. More yearling heifers were offered than steers, and the muscle score and quality varied. Most steers made between 172c and 200c with supplementary fed cattle to 219c/kg. Heifers of reasonable to good quality, C and D muscle grades, made from 168c to 204c with all yearlings averaging 187c/kg lwt. The EYCI figure was 4.25c higher week on week at 376.25c/kg cwt.

A large run of prime C3 and C4 bullocks made from 162c to 185c with grown steers to 192c/kg. Extra heavy and manufacturing bullocks were between 143c and 175c/kg. Most of the 2,300 cows recorded made from 125c to 167c, and the average for all cows was 142c with a carcass weight price average of 296c/kg. A and B muscled bulls made anywhere between 153c and 182c/kg for weights over 600kg lwt.

SA weekly cattle summary

Numbers grow

Mt Gambier's Monday export categories sale attracted a larger yarding containing over 900 head that sold to solid SA, NSW and Victorian processor demand despite many bullocks being too heavy for some buyers. The SA LE's yarding of 715 was 215 head more and featured generally good quality runs that sold to strong competition from the usual trade and processor buyers at generally dearer levels.

Feeder buyers were very active and set a solid floor on prices from the start. Vealer numbers have remained small and sold to local butchers and some feeder activity for the steers. Prime yearlings made up the bulk of the yarding with the steers dearer and the heifer portion also dearer as feeder orders threw down the gauntlet to the trade on the light and medium weight steers and heifers. The grown steers in small lines of medium weights followed the improved prices, with the small numbers of grown heifers and cows following suit.

Naracoorte's numbers increased by 292 to 1,903 head in a yarding that featured large lines of pastoral bred heifers from the Kimberley region that looked much better than when they departed on their long trip South. Grown steer prices were indifferent as the older looking heavyweights and those HGP treated failed to attract that much interest, and were discounted accordingly. Mt. Gambier's 1,430 mainly young cattle sale started off at slightly rates before accelerating again later in the sale and recouped much of the early losses. Millicent's numbers increased by 75 to 748 head and once again featured some excellent quality vealers.

Fluctuating Trends

There were fluctuating trends due to the varying quality offered. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 195¢ to 215¢ on C and B muscled mainly medium and heavyweights at basically unchanged rates. Feeder and restocker orders varied as C2 and C3 sales ranged between 166¢ and 220¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade were mainly between 174¢ and 215¢ at prices ranging from 8¢ cheaper and unchanged to 4¢/kg dearer where quality suited.

Yearling steer C3 sales in larger lines sold from 175¢ to 201¢ to be 1¢ to 2¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced C2 and C3 steers from 170¢ to 200¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales ranged between 170¢ and 192¢, with the heavyweights 1¢ to 7¢ cheaper, and the medium weights 3¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders sourced a wide range of quality between 140¢ and 195¢ at generally dearer levels for the well bred heifers.

Grown steer C3 and C4 sales were from 170¢ to 194¢ to be unchanged to 6¢ dearer, and averaging 330¢/g cwt. Cow prices tended to vary with some sales cheaper and others dearer as most D3 to C5 beef cows sold from 130¢ to 160¢, and generally 260¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Supply returns to normal

Once again rain hampered supply at some selling centres, with rain in parts of the supply area reducing supply at Toowoomba, and continuing rain around Roma severely reduced numbers at the store sale. However as the week progressed, fine weather in places combined with the return of Longreach into the selling program supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS lifted by 30 per cent. Producers in the areas dry enough to move stock took advantage of the situation and by mid week with only three sales until the annual break numbers at Dalby lifted by 70 per cent, and supply at the Roma prime sale returned to normal. A large number of buyers were present and operating at most markets, and in places included all of the major export processors. Buyers were able to absorb the increase supply plus maintain recent improved rates and lift values further on some categories. Lightweight young cattle continued to meet stronger demand from restockers feeder operators, plus local and southern processors. Feeder operators generally displayed stronger buying activity on all weight ranges of yearling steers and lifted values a further 3¢ to 5¢/kg on top of the gains experienced the previous week. Yearling heifers to feed generally followed a similar trend, nevertheless slaughter grades of medium and heavy weights averaged around 3¢/kg cheaper.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter mostly sold to firm market, however the absence of a large run of supplementary fed grades and a slightly subdued market in places average prices across all selling centres eased by 1¢/kg. Cows continued to meet strong demand and with only small adjustments due to quality values remained very close to the previous week.

Mixed values

Calves to the trade made to 239.2¢ with most close to 215¢/kg. The largest sample of C2 vealer steers averaged 10¢ better at 212¢ with the occasional pen returning to the paddock at 249.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 207¢ with a few top end quality lines to local butchers reaching 234.2¢/kg. A large number of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 5¢ dearer at 220¢ with sales to 245.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 5¢ better at 201¢ and sold to 222.2¢, while heavy feeders improved 3¢ to average 193¢/kg. A fairly large sample of lightweight yearling heifers to feeders averaged 196¢, while a good supply of slaughter grades averaged 205¢ and made to 229.2¢/kg.

Medium weight lines to feed also in large numbers averaged 184¢, with some well bred grades reaching 211.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 1¢ less at 180¢, while a relatively large sample of bullocks made to 190.2¢ with most 1¢ cheaper at 183¢/kg. The general run of cows were in the 3 and 4 score ranges and medium weight 3 scores averaged 138¢, and good heavy cows mostly sold around 153¢/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Dry weather boosts numbers

Following a disrupted week due to wet conditions some finer weather for the most part allowed numbers at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets to lift 49 per cent. There were more cattle offered at all the centres except Casino where there was some rain in the supply area.

The current strong prices is also helping to draw out some more cattle, young lightweights in particular have been subjected to spirited competition. The restocker demand driven by the levels of feed available has resulted in lightweight yearling steers average 215¢/kg throughout spring.

Quality has also been a feature reflecting the excellent seasonal conditions in spring. There were better numbers of finished cattle at Forbes and most cows were showing good condition at Tamworth, this left few to be considered by restockers. At Singleton the yardings have been displaying more weight as the season progresses. There is still a wide variation in the quality and condition at most markets as was witnessed at Gunnedah in the grown steer section. The plainer quality and lower yields helped influence a cheaper trend.

Most of the regular buyers were present around the state with feeders particularly active at Dubbo on the medium and heavyweight lines, helping to boost average prices to higher levels. Of the yearling steers offered half went to feeders, 35 per cent were returned to the paddock and the remainder were secured by the trade. Around 41 per cent of the heifer portion went to slaughter and 44 per cent went to feeders. Restockers accounted for 8 per cent of cows.

Yearling steers strong

Calves to the processors averaged 249¢ as those back to the paddock mostly made around 274¢/kg. Medium weight vealer steers to the trade reached 238¢ to average 227¢, firm on last week, as those to restockers gained 5¢ to average 228¢/kg. Lightweight vealer heifers improved 3¢ to 236¢ with the medium weights 3¢ dearer around 228¢/kg. The few heavyweights eased 4¢ to average 213¢/kg. Nearly a quarter of the yearling steers were lightweights returning to the paddock and they averaged around 219¢/kg. Medium weight C2's to feeders gained 2¢ to 201¢, the heavyweights to feed were 2¢ dearer averaging between 194¢ and 198¢ after reaching 213¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to the feeders gained 2¢ to 198¢ as those to slaughter settled around 202¢, down 3¢/kg on last week. Medium weights to the trade were down 2¢ to 196¢ with the heavyweights steady around 185¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 2¢ dearer around 184¢ as the heavyweights to processors were firm on 179¢/kg. The C3 bullocks gained 2¢ to 179¢ as the 4 scores eased 4¢ to 176¢/kg. Cows mostly sold to a steady trend, the heavyweight 3 scores were around 147¢ and the 4 scores averaged 148¢/kg.

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