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 January 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

NSW weekly cattle summary

Numbers jump

Across MLA's NLRS reported markets, supply increased 56% on last week and was almost 70% larger than the corresponding time in 2010. All markets recorded greater throughput following the rain reduced markets of the first two weeks of the year with the exception of Goulburn. The much higher prices last week, particularly for young cattle, was a factor behind numbers increasing.

Quality was more mixed as producers looked to take advantage of the current prices and sold larger runs of cattle that were not properly finished. This mainly impacted on the young cattle, as grown steers were generally in good condition while a greater number of cows possessing a high meat yield potential.

Young cattle dominated with only 35% of the total state throughput being grown cattle. The influx of young cattle had a noticeable effect on prices with some individual markets recording losses of as much as 70¢/kg. This was particularly evident for the lighter end of the vealers. Despite suffering large price falls, vealers did not dominate physical markets as yearlings represented almost 75% of the young cattle offered. After reaching the highest level for a number of years on Monday at 413.5¢, the EYCI eased during the remainder of the week. At the completion of Thursday's markets, the EYCI was 406.25¢/kg cwt.

Overall grown steers were in rather limited numbers with most being heavy weights. When combined with the better quality offered, this resulted in heavy weights and bullocks selling on a firm to dearer trend as the medium weights eased slightly. Also highlighting the better season, only 3% of the cows were lightweights with the majority being heavyweights.

Vealers dip

The exceptional prices for vealers last week was not maintained as those to slaughter were most effected. Vealer prices though are still around 20% higher than this time last year. Light vealer steers to restockers still reached 316.2¢ with most lightweights returning to the paddock around 263¢/kg. Medium weight vealer steer and heifers to the trade lost 50¢ to average 234¢ as restockers generally paid from 232¢ to 246¢/kg for the steer portion. Yearlings, although cheaper, did not suffer the same price falls as the vealers. Lightweights to restockers eased 4¢ to 228¢/kg or around an estimated $663/head. Large numbers of medium weights were purchased by feeders around 217¢ which was slightly dearer as the few to slaughter improved 4¢ to average 213¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling heifers to feeders were firm to slightly dearer and ranged from 212¢ to 220¢/kg. The medium and heavy weights to slaughter mostly made 198¢ to 209¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders made 192¢ to 199¢ as those to slaughter averaged 189¢/kg. The good heavy steers topped at 208.2¢ with most sales in the mid 190¢/kg range. Bullocks reached 208¢ to generally sell from 191¢ to 197¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows improved 3¢ to average 153¢ as heavy D4s sold closer to 160¢ after reaching 171¢/kg. Most of the good heavy high yielding cows made over 165¢ and topped at 177.2¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Excellent quality

Floods in parts of the state affected supply at Ballarat, Camperdown, Shepparton and Pakenham's Monday sale. However, all other markets recorded larger supply. Both Warrnambool and Leongatha markets were influenced by the Australia Day public holiday next Wednesday.

Despite the slight overall improvement in supply over the state, demand from both local, and export processors was again very strong. All price trends were again higher. The EYCI at the completion of Thursday's markets was down slightly on the day prior but was 5¢ below the week earlier at 406.25¢/kg cwt. Most of this reduction was due to the very high price young cattle of early last week not being including in the current figure. However, Victoria is only one state influencing the EYCI, and there were fewer of the very good quality cattle penned to assist in a higher figure.

Having said that, during the week the quality at all sales was good through to excellent. This was particularly noted at some sales for the selection of vealers, which can occur at this time of year. The top price for the week was 236¢/kg. The demand for yearling cattle, partly created by strong demand from one supermarket saw some solid price increases recorded.

Export processors are suffering from short supply of grown steers, bullocks and cows, part of which is created by the floods in NSW and Queensland. The top prices and average prices for grown steers and bullocks have been the highest that can be remembered. This trend has also lowed through to cow prices which have also been very strong.

Strong demand

The best quality B muscle vealers consistently made from 210¢ to 236¢, while the large number of C muscle vealers sold from 190¢ to 230¢/kg. Some of this was aided by strong competition from feedlots and restockers. The need for cattle by restockers and feeders also impacted on yearling cattle prices with both sectors purchasing a larger percentage, and prices were mostly between 190¢ and 220¢/kg. A general run of heavy yearlings made from 185¢ to 215¢/kg.

Weight was not an issue for processors, in fact there was a big preference for the heavier cattle as grown steers and bullocks made between 195¢ and 213¢/kg. A feature of these sales was the number of cattle with Leongatha yarding 900 grown steers and bullocks, and other markets had good supplies too.

Very strong demand for cows resulted in a large number of good quality 3, 4 and 5 score beef cows make from 150¢ to 182¢/kg. Leaner 1 and 2 scores mostly sold between 135¢ and 160¢. Across all sales the cow carcass weight price average was estimated to be 319c/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

What a sale week for cattle producers as the flooding in Queensland and Victorian rains triggered strong trade, supermarket and processor competition from the regular SA and interstate buyers. Mt. Gambier's larger export category sale sold to very strong SA, Victorian and NSW competition at much dearer levels. Most grown steers sold from 190¢ to 223.5¢/kg, with a number of bullocks selling over $1,500/head. The cows followed the dearer Friday Naracoorte prices and averaged 14¢/kg dearer and mainly from 315¢ to 350¢/kg cwt.

The SA LE's numbers rose and sold to fluctuating demand from the usual trade, local butchers and processors. Feeder orders were active and generally lifted their rates for the vealer steers, while lowering them on the light and medium weights yearling steers. However trade purchases of vealer and yearling steers were generally dearer, with the yearling heifers mostly cheaper. Grown steer prices paled in comparison to the rates being paid in the South East.

Naracoorte's increased numbers more sold like hot cakes to most of the usual SA and interstate buyers at dearer levels, with only a few sales of young cattle below 190¢, and the grown steers selling up to 222¢/kg. The cows sold to similar Friday prices at around a 335¢/kg cwt average. Mt. Gambier's Wednesday sale continued to sell to strong competition from all buyers at generally dearer levels, with only some heavy yearling heifers selling at lower rates. Millicent followed the trend of the other centres with extra numbers offered.

Dearer trends

It was a good selling week for producers as most categories attracted a dearer trend. Vealer C and B muscled steers to the trade sold from 195¢ to 230¢ to be 2¢ to 6¢/kg dearer. Strong restocker and feeder activity sourced C and B muscled vealer steers from 196¢ to 227¢, or 1¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade were generally unchanged to 4¢ dearer selling from 193¢ to 230¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C and D muscled heifers from 184¢ to 215¢/kg. Yearling C3 and C4 steers were mainly 185¢ to 223¢ at rates 6¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced larger numbers of C2 and C3 steers from 170¢ to 222¢ also at dearer levels. Yearling heifers C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights sold from 179¢ to 210¢ to be 2¢ to 6¢kg dearer.

Grown steers and bullocks sold from 180¢ to 223.5¢ at rates 9¢ to 22¢/kg dearer, and averaged close to 385¢/kg cwt statewide. Grown heifers were also keenly sourced from 143¢ to 200¢ or 4¢ to 20¢/kg more. Beef D2 to C6 medium and heavy cows sold generally from 142¢ to 182¢ to be unchanged to 24¢ dearer, and mainly 310¢ to 345¢/kg cwt.

QLD weekly catle summary

A delayed start to the year

Road closures plus load restrictions due to flooding in a number of districts resulted in a delayed start to the 2011 selling program. With the roads dry enough in the supply area around Toowoomba this allowed a small numbers of stock to move and overall supply lifted. Numbers increased at the Roma store sale as the weather conditions returned to normal, and a combination of the Christmas break and floods, the first sale for three weeks attracted a fair supply at Warwick. However severe flooding in the Dalby area restricted the movement of stock to the first sale and only attracting 700 head.

Overall quality varied in places, as a number of weeks without sunshine has deteriorated feed supplies across the central and south-east corner of the state. A fair number of buyers were in attendance at most markets however southern processors were absent in the young cattle sections in some centres. Values for young lightweight cattle suited to restockers generally held firm nevertheless processors appeared slightly more conservative in the vealer market this week compared to some earlier sales. Feeder operators provided the strongest competition on yearling steers and heifers pushing values to a higher level. Butchers and wholesalers battled to secure the short numbers of suitable yearlings and prices lifted accordingly.

With most export processors commencing operations, heavy steers and bullocks sold to strong demand at markets early in the week and tended to improve as the week progressed. Cow prices followed a similar trend with all grades in demand from processors as well as restockers.

Feeder grades in demand

Calves to the trade averaged 228¢ and made to 258¢ while restocker classes generally so around 240¢ with some to 262¢/kg. A fair supply of vealer heifers mostly sold around 217¢ with isolated sales to 264.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers averaged 232¢ and made to 248.2¢/kg. Feeder operators purchase the vast majority of the yearling steers and medium weights averaged 225¢ and sold to 239.2¢, and a good supply of heavy weights averaged 202¢ with the occasional pen reaching 229.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to the trade met strong demand to average close to 206¢ with sales to 225.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 212¢ and medium weights 205¢ with the occasional sale to 231.2¢/kg. Medium weight slaughter grades made to 222¢ with most close to 202¢/kg.

A small selection of grown steers to feed averaged 195¢ and made to 203.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 192¢ and made to 202.2¢/kg, while the bullock portion made to 200.2¢ with most around 191¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 149¢ and 4 scores 159¢/kg. Good heavy cows generally sold around 160¢ with a very occasional sale to 176.6¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Vealers dominate yardings

Cattle supply slipped 9% week on week, this was despite an increase at Muchea and Great Southern trade sale on Friday. The drop in supply was attributed to fewer vealers at Great Southern on Thursday following a very large sale last week.

Despite a reduction in supply of around 16% vealers were still by far the dominant category accounting for half the states yarding. Feeders and live exporters secured the bulk of the vealer steers at Great Southern and the competition pushed prices higher by 8¢ to 10¢ for the steers with medium weights mostly selling between 202¢ and 231¢/kg lwt. The medium heifers also to feed gained up to 16¢ after reaching a top of 222¢ they mostly settled in a range from 192¢ to 222¢ and the heavyweights averaged 212¢/kg.

Yearlings remain in limited supply with very few in prime condition suitable to the local trade. Feeders were active on the plainer yearling lines as were restockers with eastern states orders still active and providing some price support for producers. Live export demand was also evident on store yearlings and lightweight bulls. Grown steers suitable for export slaughter were scarce - the majority were in unfinished condition and better suited to feeders. All classes of cows were highly sought after by processors at Great Southern with fewer yarded compared to last week, this led to a dearer trend. The strong competition continued over to the heavyweight bulls which finished 10¢/kg lwt dearer.

Over the hooks mostly remained firm with grass finished yearling supply tightening processors have shifted some of their focus to grain-fed stock.

Vealers dearer

Feeders continued to place pressure on vealer steers, securing the majority offered. Most of the medium weights sold around 219¢ to 7¢ dearer as the heavy weights gained 10¢ to generally sell from 216¢ to 222¢/kg. Live exporters were active on the light and medium weights with most sales from 220¢ to 240¢ after paying to a top of 250¢/kg. There were only limited numbers purchased by the trade. It was a similar story with the heifers as most ranged from 194¢ to 205¢ to feeders to be over 20¢/kg dearer. Heavy weights to feeders gained 17¢ to average 212¢/kg. Yearling steers in small numbers as restockers paid to 222¢/kg for a pen of lightweights. A run of plainer light yearling heifers to restockers and feeders average almost 150¢/kg.

Cows received good enquiry from processors along with some restocker enquiry on the light and medium weights. Most returning to the paddock ranged from 105¢ to 113¢kg. Lean D2 medium weights to slaughter improved slightly to average 107¢ after selling to 120¢ as the better covered lines sold closer to 109¢/kg. Most of the heavy cows ranged from 105¢ to 110¢/kg.

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