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 15 July 2011
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

NSW weekly cattle summary

Supply lower in the north

Cattle yardings were lower overall in NSW, with throughput reported by MLA's NLRS declining 8 per cent. Numbers were lower in most regions, however a handful of selling centres penned more cattle. Supply is beginning to tighten, which is typical during the winter months with throughput almost identical during the same period on 2010. Numbers were restricted mostly at Gunnedah, Scone, Singleton and Inverell with producers happy to leave cattle in the paddock. However, the reduced yardings meant competition lifted for young cattle and prices trended upwards at most markets.

Quality was again mixed, with the colder temperatures taking the condition off young cattle - although many drafts are carrying plenty of weight. The leaner conditioned yardings has seen more cattle suited to backgrounder and feeder orders, particularly medium and heavyweight steers. Mature cattle were in small numbers, with cow yardings remaining firm and accounting for the majority of the export grades.

Direct to works rates were firm, with processors taking a wait and see approach given the current market conditions. The slow down in some key export markets has meant some eastern states processors are not in demand of large volumes of cattle. Instead, certain processors in the eastern states are working at reduced capacity. Feedlot operators have also been quiet recently, with reduced numbers heading direct to feed given the cheaper paddock prices on offer. Domestic fed cattle prices have been resilient compared with to export categories, with domestic processors eager to source prime grain fed cattle in the colder months.

Prices lift

Restocker orders were active on suitable yearlings and vealers, signalling that producer confidence has withstood recent price adjustments. Light vealer steers to restockers were firm to 2¢ dearer, mainly selling from 213¢ to 220¢/kg. Vealer heifers returning to the paddock topped at 219¢ and averaged around 200¢/kg. Yearling steers to restock mostly averaged 207¢, while the heifer portion was back on 187¢/kg. Yearling steers to feeders sold from 193¢ to 208¢ as sales averaged firm to 4¢/kg dearer. Medium weight heifers to feeders were stable on 184¢, while the heavyweights to the trade sold up to 3¢ higher, ranging from 178¢ to 188¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling steers lifted 5¢ - to 195¢/kg.

Grown steers to feedlot orders ranged from 180¢ through to 184¢ and were up to 10¢/kg dearer overall. The better quality pens destined for slaughter were few in numbers, and gained 8¢, as the medium weight C3 section settled on 175¢/kg. Heavy C3 bullocks jumped 8¢ to 182¢, while the limited number of C4 pens averaged 182¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows to restockers slipped by 5¢ - to 127¢, while the D3 pens to slaughter averaged 136¢/kg. Heavy D4 lines were 2¢ dearer on 148¢, after sales topped at 158¢/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Fresh lambs emerge

Lamb supply across MLA's NLRS reported saleyards recovered significantly with a 27 per cent increase on last week. Lamb supply lifted across all markets with the greatest gains at CTLX up 42 per cent, Dubbo up 27 per cent and Wagga recording with an increase of 20 per cent. Tamworth also recorded a significant increase with lamb numbers almost doubling from last week.

Lamb quality was good with again a dominance of heavy lambs appearing on the market. North NSW markets reported a high level of supplementary fed lambs due to the availability of good feed. New season lambs are beginning to appear in the market with Dubbo, Forbes and CTLX all reporting good runs. The fresh lambs are being met with strong enquiry with the average trade price attracting a premium.

All buyers were present across the majority of markets however purchases still remain selective. With the fresh new season lambs starting to appear in greater numbers, demand for old lambs was down with prices slipping from $3 to $11/head.

Mutton numbers also increased substantially, with overall supply up 30 per cent. Wagga was by far the greatest contributor to the upward trend with throughput almost tripling inn comparison to last week. The majority of the markets however experienced reduced numbers as those who have held stock through winter continue to do so. Quality was mixed to low throughout with lack of supply still proving to be the determining factor in price.

Prices varied

Sheep and lamb prices were varied with the majority of light grades mixed and the majority of medium and heavy weights decreasing. Lightweight 2 score lambs to restockers gained $5 to average $97, selling from $92 to $104/head. The 2 score light lambs to slaughter lost ground, $2 cheaper, selling from $79 to $103 to average $95, with the 3 scores to processors back $2, averaging $102/head. The light trade weight lambs to slaughter sold from $88 to $119, cheaper $9 to average $109/head. The medium trade weights were cheaper, back $8 to average $117 /head. Carcase weight prices averaged 477¢ for the light trade and 470¢/kg for the medium weights.

The 3 score heavy lambs sold from $93 to $138 to average $124, $8/head cheaper. The 4 score heavyweights lost $6, selling from $112 to $132 for an average of $123/head. Extra heavy 4 score lambs also sold cheaper, back $8, ranging from $117 to $141 to average $129/head.

Sheep prices were mixed, with 2 score Merino ewes gaining $1, selling from $90 to $117, averaging $101/head. Merino 3 score ewes ranged from $72 to $126 averaged $112, back $1/head. The 3 score Merino wethers ranged from $86 to $127, averaging $115, an increase of $3/head.

SA weekly cattle summary

Smaller numbers

Cattle numbers retreated, likely in response to both of the states major processors being on their annual maintenance breaks. However it wasn't expected that the SA LE's small yarding in good quality runs, would attract the strongest demand witnessed for some time. This was due to an interstate wholesaler establishing the high ground early in the sale that left most other buyers floundering in their efforts to secure supplies. Feeder orders had to lift their prices to source small numbers of vealer and yearling heifers, and some yearling steers. The medium and heavyweight C and B-muscled yearling steers and heifers attracted animated bidding at much dearer levels. However, the small number of cows offered sold at lower prices.

Naracoorte's yarding was also reduced and contained mixed quality runs of young cattle and grown steers, while there were some good quality heavy cows offered. Most of the usual interstate buyers were operating, albeit with a couple only looking for limited numbers. While it was thought that a South East processors absence may affect some categories, the smaller numbers left some sales unchanged, others dearer and a few cheaper and was mainly due to the varying quality available. There were a few small lines of pastoral bred cattle offered with one lightweight bull selling at 246c/kg.

Mt. Gambier's similar numbered yarding featured a typical winter yarding; with many cattle in only two score condition and others sporting winter coats. Apart from isolated sales of vealers that attracted a dearer trend, most other categories tended to lose ground.

Erratic trends

The improved prices paid at the SA LE only led to erratic state trends materialising. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 200¢ to 254¢ to be generally 6¢ to 8¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders secured C2 lightweights from 205¢ to 223¢, also at dearer levels. Vealer heifers to the trade sold mainly between 185¢ and 247¢ with a single lightweight at 260c/kg at basically unchanged rates. Feeder purchases of C2 lightweights were from 190¢ to 195¢ at rates 10¢/kg less. Yearling steer C and B muscled sales ranged between 170¢ and 257¢ to be 2¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Feeders sourced C2 and C3 light to heavyweight steers from 170¢ to 213¢/kg at slightly improved rates. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweight sales ranged between 167¢ and 211¢, to be 1¢ to 4¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers in small numbered runs sold from 164¢ to 190¢, with the 2 score 3¢ dearer and the C3 medium weights 3¢/kg cheaper, and were averaging 335¢/kg cwt. Good quality runs of medium and heavy D3 to C6 beef cows sold from 120¢ to 156¢ to be generally unchanged to 8¢ cheaper, with most mainly in a 250¢ to 300¢/kg cwt price range.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Shorter supply

The overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS fell 29 per cent. However numbers at Dalby, Warwick and Roma prime sale hovered around the previous weeks level. Young cattle generally dominated, and the cold frosty conditions have taken a toll on the standard of the calves and vealers. The standard of the smaller number of export grades was generally good.

Buyer attendance in the young cattle section was generally good, and in early week markets not all the usual export buyers were present, as additional export support from interstate helped lift values. By mid week all the usual local export operators were back in the market and operating and prices for all export grades improved. Heavy steers and bullocks across all markets for the week lifted 5¢/kg. Cows also sheared in the rising trend with improvements of around 5¢/kg on the medium weight lines while a fair selection of good heavy cows were 9¢/kg dearer.

Calves and vealers commenced the week on a strong trend with some classes improving in price. Nevertheless as the week progressed a drop in quality and the availability of larger numbers values tended to struggle with average prices 2¢ to 6¢/kg easier. The larger number of light yearling steers at Roma store sale also failed to find as much restocker buyer competition as the previous week. Medium yearling steers and heifers to feed went against the trend in places as the yearling steers to feed lifted by close to 20¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed also experienced a dearer market with improvements of up to 6¢/kg at Dalby.

Export grades dearer

Calves returning to the paddock averaged 6¢ cheaper at 211¢, while some well bred grades still made to 242.2¢/kg. The largest numbers of vealer steers sold to feeder operators or backgrounders at an average of 213¢, while those returning to the paddock generally sold around 220¢/kg. A large selection of vealer heifers to local and southern processors averaged 2¢ cheaper at 196¢ while a small number of heavy top end quality lines sold to local butchers at 249.2¢/kg. A very large supply of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 7¢ easier at 213¢ with some to 234.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged from 195¢ to 202¢ with some well bred lines reaching 228.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed improved 5¢ to average 189¢ and sold to 207.2¢kg.

Bullocks averaged 5¢ dearer at 172¢ with some close to 700/kg live weight making to 181.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 2¢ dearer at 117¢, and the 4 scores were 5¢ better at 145¢/kg. A good supply of heavy 4 scores lifted in value by 9¢ to average 148¢ with the occasional pen from western districts reaching 160.2¢/kg.

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