Australian Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - There has been a general increase in cattle numbers according to the weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian staterecorded by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 6 May 2011
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales Numbers Up Prices Down

Cattle throughout at MLA's NLRS reported physical markets returned to normal, and producers were eager to offload cattle after the two week delay. Numbers increased 4 per cent compared with the previous full trading week, but are tracking around 5 per cent lower than the corresponding week in 2010. Cow numbers in particular were higher, with producers reportedly culling unproductive females prior to winter.

Mid week markets that hadn't sold in over a fortnight registered strong yarding trends, and generally most markets increased throughput despite the softer prices. It seems the Easter and ANZAC holidays has given producers a chance to evaluate the market prior to winter, and some have decided to offload before any supplementary feeding is required. This has been evident by the mixed quality yardings, with a higher proportion of young cattle supplies suitable to feeder or restocker orders.

Over the hook rates set the tone for the week, as processors wound back rates in the wake of the high AA$ and expected influx of cattle after the Easter period. The export orientated grades of grown steers and cows were most affected, with averages showing falls of up to 8¢/kg cwt. Young cattle rates were also cheaper, yet with prime drafts getting harder to find the drop wasn't as severe. Feeder rates were slightly weaker in the Eastern states, with feedlots reportedly well supplied with stock. However, domestic feeder rates in NSW were firm to slightly dearer as feeders look to get more young cattle onto feed before the cooler months.

Buyers Scramble for Quality Lines

Restockers remained active in the physical markets, and mainly paid from 238¢ to 251¢/kg for a large sample light vealer steers, averaging around A$590/head. Vealer heifers also selling to restockers were firm on 217¢, after sales peaked at 245¢/kg or A$641/head.The better quality C and B muscled vealers to slaughter from 231¢ to 250¢/kg. Yearlings were cheaper overall, however pockets of sales remained firm compared to last week's values, with buyers competing strongly for the better quality lines. Light yearling steers were in big numbers and those to restocker averaged 7¢ dearer on 211¢/kg. Medium weights to feed slipped back 12¢ to 206¢, while restockers generally paid around 206¢/kg for C2 grades. Heavy yearling steers to feed were 193¢, while a reduced supply of the better conditioned pens to the trade sold at 198¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 201¢, while the C3s to slaughter settled on 203¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers averaged 5¢ stronger on 188¢, while the C2's to feed were on 175¢/kg. Heavy C4 pens were stable on 191¢/kg. Medium D3 cows eased 11¢ - to 136¢, while heavy cows were up to 10¢ cheaper on 147¢/kg lwt or 295¢/kg cwt.

Victoria Numbers lift

A much larger offering of cattle was met with greater reduced demand as prices slipped from their recent highs. The later in the week, the worse the outcome was. Camperdown market, was of similar size, yet by the end of the week, Bairnsdale agents pulled supply to see a much smaller yarding offered. However, the rest of MLA's NLRS reported sales were much larger, particularly Leongatha, which jumped 70 per cent. While the Pakenham markets of young and grown cattle were unchanged to 10¢/kg cheaper, other markets suffered falls of between 12¢ to 35¢/kg.

Even though all processors were back to work, the huge influx of supply resulted in processors fill up fast. Some are still working short weeks, and did little to aid competition, and one export processor had a breakdown, further restricting competition. By the end of the week all classes of cattle were cheaper, but vealers sold mostly at unchanged rates at Pakenham on Monday. Some of this was due to strong feedlot and restocker competition, but the end of the week, even this changed. Because of this, the EYCI was 396¢/kg cwt.

The high value of the AA$ has been hurting export processors, and with grown steers making up 20 per cent of supply, and cows and bulls, 30 per cent of the cattle yarded, these cattle suffered the most. The carcass weight prices average of cows was estimated to be 35¢/kg lower than the previous week.

Prices Slip

The top of the vealers made to 268¢, as most made between 178¢ and 235¢, the overall average was reduced to 215¢/kg. Feedlots and restockers paid from 200¢ to 237¢ for European breeds and 195¢ to 220¢/kg for British breeds of better quality. However, some of the plainer grades were purchased between 145¢ and 200¢/kg. The only highlight for yearling cattle were some sales of supplementary fed steers and heifers between 235¢ and 263¢/kg. Most yearlings steers made from 185¢ to 220¢ with heifers anywhere between 165¢ and 218¢/kg.

Prime C muscle bullocks reached 207¢ on Monday, but by the end of the week averaged 183¢/kg. Some cows were 3c to 10c/kg cheaper but there was a larger percentage that lost 15¢ to 30¢/kg. Due to the large variation in price falls throughout the week, better quality beef cows made anywhere between 120¢ and 175¢, to average around 142¢/kg. Plenty of dairy cows made from 100¢ to 145¢ with the top prices reaching 166¢, as all cows averaged 134¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 283¢ with a range between selling centres of 268¢ to 308¢/kg.

South Australia Numbers Explode

There was a huge increase in cattle numbers that generally attracted a weaker trend as a high AA$ impacts on export sales. Also with more cattle being sourced out of the northern regions as that country dries out, combining with the large numbers coming into the Southern markets after the long Easter/ANZAC holiday break is having an affect on demand.

The SA LE's yarding was similar to two weeks ago and sold to an easing trend on the much improved prices paid at that sale. Feeder orders were less conspicuous than in the past and sourced only small numbers. There were good quality local and pastoral bred yearling offered, albeit with supply outstripping demand. Vealer steers in small numbers sold mainly to the trade and local butchers, with the heifers selling to similar demand, with only a few lightweights being dearer. Yearling prices retreated quite sharply, with soft feeder demand not helping. Small numbers of grown steers, grown heifers and cows also failed to attract that much interest.

Naracoorte's much larger prime market was followed by an additional 785 head in a store sale. While most of the usual SA and interstate buyers were operating it was not enough, and apart from selected sales only the majority attracted weaker prices. While overall quality was quite mixed there was a magnificent line of prime grown steers from Mt. Lyndhurst Station that attracted the strongest demand.

Mt. Gambier's increased numbers followed the week's weaker trend and could lead to any remaining cattle staying in the paddock.

A Market Correction

The increased numbers being yarded sold to a generally downward market correction. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 208¢ to 259¢, with some sales dearer, but mainly 6¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 and C3 vealer steers from 220¢ to 241¢/kg also at lower levels. Vealer heifers to the trade and local butchers sold from 195¢ to 252¢ with C3 sales 8¢ dearer and most others unchanged to 10¢/kg less. Feeder and restocker activity purchased C muscled mainly lightweights from 213¢ to 231¢/kg. Yearling steers generally sold from 182¢ to 240¢ to be 3¢ to 18¢ cheaper, with feeders and restockers paying from 189¢ to 235¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were from 160¢ to 225¢ to be mainly 8¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steers sold mainly between 172¢ and 215¢ to be 6¢ to 26¢ cheaper with 4 or more teeth bullocks most affected, as carcase weight prices averaged 340¢/kg. Cow prices suffered the most as beef D3 to C6 medium and heavyweights sold from 120¢ to 168¢, with dairy D1 to D3 sales 100¢ to 146¢, or 22¢ to 34¢/kg less. Most cows sold in a 225¢ to 295¢/kg cwt price range.

Queensland Larger Numbers

Numbers lifted substantially following the extended break caused by the Easter and ANZAC Day holidays. Produces also displayed an urgency to off load stock before the onset of winter. Despite the absence of some selling centres due to the Labor Day holiday, supply at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS climbed.

Overall quality is starting to slip as winter approaches plus larger numbers of inferior grades were included in the line-up, and at Warwick increased numbers of calves and vealers were penned. Buyer attendance at most markets was generally good and included all major export processors. Young cattle experienced a mixed trend in values and despite winter quickly approaching restocker buyers remained very active due to the ongoing positive seasonal conditions and in places lifted values for the steer portion. Lightweight yearling heifers suitable as breeder replacements also received strong demand. However vealer heifers and lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter went against this trend and a large supply of vealer heifers in places lost up to 20¢/kg. Feeder buyers dropped 6¢ to 10¢/kg on average and more in places due to the quality penned and buyers being more selective as lesser quality lines experienced larger losses.

Export processors displayed conservative buying as cattle supply across the state increases plus the value of the A A$ impacts on price. Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter generally lost 12¢/kg. Cows followed a similar trend with losses of 7¢ to 10¢/kg fairly common and over conditioned grades experienced reductions of up to 15¢/kg.

Cheaper Trend Emerges

Calves to restockers averaged 234¢ and made to 269.2¢ and slaughter grades mostly sold around 209¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock improved to average 234¢ with sales to 266.2¢/kg. A large supply of vealer heifers across all markets lost 16¢ to average 203¢, while some relatively small selections of top quality lines sold to local butchers at 236.2¢/kg. A large sample of lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers at 225¢ with some to 263.2¢/kg. Medium weight grades to feed averaged 194¢ and sold to 214.6¢ and heavy lines lost a further 6¢ to average 187¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers averaged 213¢ and made to 226.2¢ and slaughter grades lost 2¢ to 8¢ to average 189¢/kg. Plain condition medium weight lines to slaughter averaged 161¢, while some better grades to feed sold around 189¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 12¢ less at 176¢ and sold to 183.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 12¢ cheaper at 170¢ with an isolated sale to 190.2¢/kg. Bullocks fell by a similar amount to average 172¢ with a few pens to 186.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 116¢ while a very large supply of 3 scores averaged 9¢ less at close to 134¢/kg. Heavy 3 scores lost 10¢ to average 137¢ and good heavy cows were cheaper by 7¢ to average 150¢/kg.

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