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 17 June 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

QLD weekly cattle summary

Reduced numbers

The last of the short working weeks for the year combined with rain in places and the recent decline in prices to result in a 35% reduction in numbers at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS. The present uncertainty in the market also contributed to a shorter supply as producers are opting to access market conditions before making decisions on selling.

Overall quality remains mixed and young cattle made up 50% of the total cattle penned, and in some centres calves sold open auction accounted for 17% of the yarding. The Roma store sale attracted cattle from a wide area around south-western Queensland and northern New South Wales. Buyer attendance was not as good as previous weeks and not all the usual export buyers were in attendance at a number of other centres.

Most classes sold to a cheaper market, nevertheless calves and vealers to both restockers and the trade went against this trend to improve up to 13¢/kg. However yearling steers and heifers prices suffered falls of 5¢ to 10¢/kg and in some centres plain condition grades met a subdued market and fell up to 20¢/kg.

Despite the 80% reduction in the supply of bullocks, prices fell a 7¢/kg and further in places however some top-quality supplementary fed grades managed to help average prices. The weaker export market also flowed onto the cows however losses were confined to around 3¢ for the medium weight 2 scores and 4¢ to 5¢/kg for the better condition grades.

Most classes cheaper

A fairly large selection of calves sold to the trade at 201¢, while those returning to the paddock also in large numbers averaged 13¢ dearer at 236¢ with one consignment of 100 head making to 262.2¢/kg. Vealer steers also returning to the paddock sold 7¢ dearer at 227¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade generally sold around 202¢ and a very small selection of well presented grades sold to local butchers at 240.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers averaged 225¢, and medium weight grades to feed averaged 196¢ with the very occasional sale to 234.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers were well supplied and average prices eased by 5¢ to average 179¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers averaged 202¢ and medium weights to feed averaged 186¢, while D muscle lines to the trade generally sold in the 150¢/kg range.

Heavy 3 scores steers to export slaughter lost 10¢ to average 156¢ while a small sample of the better grades averaged 6¢ less at 169¢/kg. The small selection of bullocks averaged 7¢ cheaper at 170¢ with some supplementary fed grades to 179.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 118¢ and 3 scores 130¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to an isolated 158.6¢ with most 4¢ cheaper at 146¢kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Many factors impact yardings

Widespread rainfall and forecasts of further falls plus the public holiday impacted markets reported by MLA's NLRS this week. Wagga and Tamworth were not held Monday, while all other markets, with the exception of Dubbo, offered fewer cattle, as state throughput fell 42% on last week. This trend was replicated when compared to the corresponding period last year with supply down 33%.

The recent cold and wet conditions have had a marked impact on quality and also the yield potential of finished cattle. Quality overall varied greatly across all categories. This was highlighted by Gunnedah recording the plainest offering for some time. Finished young cattle were scarce and only a couple of good pens of cows were offered. Dubbo again went against the trend as a greater percentage of well bred cattle were offered.

Quality played a major part in competition and subsequently the prices that were received for young cattle. Secondary vealers and yearlings met restricted competition. This was evident at Gunnedah while Scone had greater numbers of supplementary fed yearling heifers that met a considerable dearer trend. Young cattle prices overall varied as much as 10¢kg or more either side of last week's levels.

Export cattle were also offered in mixed quality runs which impacted demand. Also affected grown cattle is the still high A$ and the lack of enquiry from major export markets. Armidale was also missing a regular processor order for cows which resulted in a much cheaper trend. Grown cattle indicator grades across the state were firm to 4¢/kg cheaper.

Mixed prices

Medium weight vealer steers returning to the paddock were 10¢ to 12¢ cheaper with the plainer lines most affected as most sales ranged from 194¢ to 216¢/kg. A large run of good vealer heifers to the trade gained 6¢ to average 216¢ as a single sale topped at 249¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feeders sold around 207¢ as heavy weights to slaughter averaged 199¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers, which included good supplementary fed lines averaged 206¢ after topping at 240¢/kg. The benchmark EYCI at the completion of Thursday's markets was 381.25¢/kg cwt. This was 3.75¢ below last week but still 30.75¢/kg cwt above this time last year.

Most of the medium weight grown steers were purchased by feeders around 184¢/kg. The lean heavy weights eased 2¢ - to 181¢, as the C4s averaged 188¢/kg in small numbers. The few bullocks offered made to an isolated 180¢ with most making closer to 170¢/kg. Restockers were active on the light cows paying to 158¢ as most returning to the paddock made around 134¢/kg. The few light cows to slaughter averaged 111¢/kg. Medium weight D3s eased slightly to 135¢ as the leaner D2s made closer to 125¢/kg. Most of the heavy cows made from 139¢ to 142¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Large quality decline

Quality, or more importantly a large decline in quality offered at MLA's NLRS reported markets was a major factor in price trends throughout the shortened working week. Even though there were just four working days, a similar number of cattle were penned compared to last week. Cattle numbers increased at the majority of markets held, with numbers at Warrnambool almost doubling. The exclusion of Monday markets accounted for slight decrease in supply. Another factor affecting competition was the annual Butchers Picnic which resulted in some abattoirs working just three days.

There was a variation in prices for top quality vealers. Prices for the B muscle vealers were 10¢ to 20¢/kg higher in Gippsland than other areas of the state. However, plainer quality affected prices across many categories. The EYCI at the completion of Thursdays markets was 3.75¢ lower than last week at 381.25¢/kg cwt. Compared to the corresponding period last year the EYCI is still just over 30¢kg cwt higher.

By the end of last week's markets, prices for some cattle have suffered large falls, particularly cows. Some of these losses were regained this week which created mixed results for cows. Sales of grown cattle also realised varying trends, and while cow prices were mostly firm to 7¢ dearer, grown steers and bullocks were 2¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. When looking at the carcass weight price average, there was little difference despite the varied trends. However, a larger percentage of poor condition 1 score cows were sold which may have affected this outcome. Bull prices were higher after some poor results last week.

Mixed prices

Price variances were quite large because of the range in quality. The best quality B muscle vealers made from 200¢ to 254¢ as a few excellent vealers topped at 267¢/kg. The majority of vealers made between 170¢ and 210¢/kg. A similar scenario occurred for the yearling steers and heifers. While heavy yearling steers were unchanged to 5¢ cheaper and ranged from 180¢ to 210¢, with supplementary feds reaching 236¢/kg, the light and medium weights were up to 15¢/kg cheaper. Yearling heifers realised similar trends, as the better quality lines sold form 175¢ to 206¢, and plainer grades ranged from 150¢ to 180¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks were reasonably well supplied, with a good number of quality lines offered. Prime grown steers sold to 195¢ as C3 and C4 bullocks made between 165¢ and 185¢/kg. The manufacturing steers met limited demand to range from 103¢ for dairy lines to 173¢/kg.

Most better quality cows sold from 128¢ to 159¢, as the lean, and very poor quality cows sold from 70¢ to 128¢/kg. Restockers purchased a number of cows, which placed a fairly solid floor in the market.

SA weekly cattle summary

Cattle numbers retreat

There were only two sales this week due to the Queens Birthday long weekend, with Naracoorte starting the week with reduced numbers after last week's lower priced sale. Included in the yarding were a large number of pastoral bred cattle from Broken Hill and Alice Springs. Overall quality was not quite as good as last week, this tending to witness prices not reaching last week's rates. Most young cattle attracted a weaker trend, with only some grown steers, medium weight grown heifers and most of the cows being unchanged to slightly dearer.

The yarding contained 550 young cattle, 154 grown steers and heifers, together with good quality runs of 486 mainly heavy C3 to C5 beef cows that attracted solid demand selling up to 162¢/kg lwt. Most of the usual buyers were operating, while feeder and restocker orders were active on small numbers of vealer and yearling steers and heifers, and only one small numbered pen of medium weight D2 beef cows. Vealer steers were in small lines and sold at lower rates, while vealer heifers followed a similar pattern albeit with only selected heavyweights and one pen to a restocker being dearer. Grown steer numbers retreated as they lacked the large numbers of pastoral breds from last week. Cow prices were the most buoyant due to the improved quality available.

Mt. Gambier had a similar numbered mixed quality yarding that sold to most of the usual SA and interstate buyers at mainly lower rates due to that varying quality, with only isolated sales dearer.

An easing trend

In a week of generally lower prices vealer steers to the trade sold from 180¢ to 240¢ to be 7¢ to 18¢/kg less. Restockers and feeders on small lines paid from 192¢ to 223¢/kg, also at lower levels. Vealer heifers to the trade sold from 190¢ to 232¢ to vary from 6¢ to 19¢ cheaper, with heavyweights 10¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 mainly lightweights from 169¢ to 210¢/kg. Yearling C3 steers sold from 170¢ to 239¢, with the medium weights 19¢ less and the heavyweights 15¢/kg dearer. Restockers sourced most lightweights from 169¢ to 230¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were from 155¢ to 212¢ at prices generally 5¢ to 8¢/kg dearer.

Grown steer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights in smaller numbers sold from 170¢ to 192¢ to be a further 3¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper, and averaging 334¢/kg cwt. Grown heifer medium and heavy C3 and C4 sales were from 150¢ to 170¢ to be 4¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. Medium and heavy D2 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 118¢ to 162¢ at prices ranging between 1¢ to 4¢ dearer and unchanged to 4¢/kg cheaper, with most from 255¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Rainfall wide spread but patchy

There was wide spread rainfall in much of the south western land division this week. Falls however were spread over a wide range with much of the eastern wheatbelt again seeing only limited recordings in rainfall gauges. Subsequently many areas in the southern Ag districts continue to struggle with feed levels. Temperatures have also dropped in line with the crossing of the cold fronts and some frosting has been reported in the south. The tight feed levels continue to ensure supplementary feeding continues. Generally conditions in the north of the state were fine and dry weather over the past seven days. Although the live export debate has brought confusion and consternation, mustering activity has continued in the north of the state. This continues to see good numbers of pastoral cattle sent south, both to saleyards and direct to abattoirs.

Saleyard numbers continued to be tight this week with Muchea remaining the largest sale as both the south west and Great Southern yardings were both limited, as would be expected at this time of year. Muchea had in its yarding very good supplies of pastoral cows, which accounted for a healthy percentage of this market's total numbers. Locally bred cow supplies were limited, which again is not uncommon at this time of year. Trade weight yearling supplies were tight as were the numbers of both heavy weight steers and heifers. Store numbers were also sold in reasonably tight supply, despite accounting for a reasonable percentage of total numbers.

Cow market recovers some ground

The supplies of grass finished trade weight yearling seen in saleyards this week remained limited. Quality continued to be very mixed and spread over a wide range in either sex. Local processor and feeder demand continued to be recorded at similar levels and there was little perceivable change in the average rates paid. Grain finished supplies were reasonable, but quality was very mixed, as was weight. Better quality trade weight yearlings of either sex recorded a firm and solid local processor and retailer competition. However mixed quality and out of weight specification drafts saw a more limited and conservative processor and feeder competition with subsequent discounts recorded. The tight supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks saw little or no change in processor competition or rates with a solid under pinning seen from the restocker sector. This was also the case in heavy weight mature heifer sales and these saw a slight strengthening in over all averages. There was a very good quality seen in pastoral cattle from the north of the state. The cow market saw a levelling out in demand from processors early in the week. This strengthened latter in the week with the market improving slightly on averages.

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