Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 12 August 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

While numbers remained similar with 723 head at the SALE, there was an explosion of 940 more to 2,073 940 head at Naracoorte in improved quality runs that is some five to six weeks ahead of normal after a mild wet autumn and early winter has allowed producers in the South East to turn of stock earlier.

Mt. Gambier's numbers increased by 164 to 1,112 head in a mixed quality yarding that featured more grown steers. While young cattle quality was quite good at the SALE, the grown heifers and cows were quite mixed.

Most of the usual trade and processor buyers were present as the yarding sold to fluctuating competition, with feeder orders active on yearling steers and heifers, together with some medium weight D2 cows and a large number of lightweight bulls. A lack of vealers was probably the reason for one Adelaide Hills wholesaler making his presence felt at Naracoorte the following day. While some yearling steers were dearer, most others and the heifers lost ground.

Naracoorte's yarding featured locally and pastoral bred cattle ex NT and WA that generally sold at improved prices due to the operating SA and Victorian buyers having an increased number of prime cattle from which to source supplies. A couple of additional orders also assisted.

Mt. Gambier's varying quality led to most categories selling at reduced prices, the only exception being the strong demand for the cows at both South East markets that lifted three to six score beef cow sales over 145¢/kg lwt; and some carcase weight prices above 310¢/kg.

Erratic trends

While most categories attracted a generally weaker trend, some sold at improved levels. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 205¢ to 266¢ with C3 lightweights 18¢ dearer and most others three cents to 11¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers to the trade and local butchers sold from 184¢ to 259¢ with once again some sales dearer and others unchanged to five cents/kg lower.

Feeders sourced C2 mainly lightweights from 205¢ to 225¢/kg at improved prices. Yearling steer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights sold mainly from 175¢ to 220¢ to be unchanged to three cents/kg less. Feeders and restocker purchased C2 and C3 light and medium weights from 170¢ to 211¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights attracted price generally between 162¢ and 205¢, or one to nine cents/kg less.

Grown steer C3 and C4 sales were from 165¢ to 194¢ to be one to three cents cheaper, and averaging around 330¢/kg cwt. Increased numbers of grown heifers sold mainly from 150¢ to 172¢ to be two to five cents/kg cheaper. Most medium and heavy beef cows were basically unchanged, with D2 to C6 sales 118¢ to 164¢ and generally 280¢ to 320¢/kg cwt. Pastoral breds attracted prices between 132¢ and 158¢/kg on small lines.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Lower numbers

The supply of cattle was down 10 per cent across all Victorian markets reported by MLA's NLRS, which could have promoted higher prices. However, price trends were quite mixed with the general trend for grown cattle being unchanged to dearer, while young cattle prices were firm to cheaper.

There has been a couple of stand out features in Victoria during the week, the first being further downpours of 100mm to 135mm of rain in Central and East Gippsland. The second was the first of the spring store cattle sales, which may have reflected hope rather than sensibility. All of the creeks and rivers from Traralgon through to the NSW border were flooding, and this impeded transport, and caused some promised lines to sales being cancelled.

Pakenham young cattle sale opened the selling week with less competition, and prices for most young cattle averaged lower. There were some exceptions as buyers sought the best quality, but poor demand and plainer quality saw prices fall on average three to six cents/kg. This trend was seen at some other NLRS reported sales, which was in line with the EYCI comparison. The EYCI figure was 373.75c, down 7.25c/kg cwt week on week. Some of this reflection is due to plainer quality, as some excellent prices were achieved for very good quality.

Given the current turmoil in the global financial climate, and poorer than normal trading in overseas export markets, the stronger livestock outcome goes against those trends. Heavy steers, grown steers and cows sold at least to firm trends, but several lines at some markets were up to five cents/kg dearer.

Sales remain strong

Producers that are showing a lot of confidence in the future have paid nearly as much for store cattle, compared to the later weaner cattle sales last March. However, it is the dollar per head return that affects competition, and a lot of the heavier cattle currently being sold are fetching $900 to over $1,400/head.

Some very good quality steers and bullocks were sold, and prime C muscle classes were between 182c and 196c for bullocks, and up to 202c/kg for heavy yearlings. Cow prices have also been solid with most better quality beef cows making 148c to 168c/kg. Better finished Friesians made from 138c to 153c, and most of the poor quality cows 90c to 135c/kg.

The carcase weight price average was similar at 294c/kg. Demand for high quality cattle saw some supplementary fed steers and heifers make 255c to 270c/kg. Away from these, other supplementary fed cattle made from 200c to 248c/kg.

Only small numbers of vealers made to 267c, as plainer quality saw most make from 185c to 235c/kg. Grass finished yearlings made mostly from 180c to 200c for steers, and 168c to 195c/kg for the heifer portion. Feedlot and restocker competition was mixed and prices were mostly between 170c and 215c/kg.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

A small lift in supply

The overall supply of stock across the state experienced a small lift of six per cent, however numbers varied up and down from centre to centre. A larger number was recorded at the Roma store sale, and supply lifted by 24 per cent at the Dalby market, while a smaller number of export grades came forward to the Roma prime sale.

Buyer attendance at most markets was generally good and similar to previous weeks not all the export buyers were operating at some centres. Young cattle continued to dominate the selling pens with larger numbers showing the effects of the cold weather.

The quality of the export classes of heavy steers and bullocks was generally good, and the cow section was dominated by heavy grades in the four score range. Values for a number of classes improved and a few warm days lifted restocker enthusiasm and prices responded accordingly with calves gaining around eight cents and up to 17¢/kg in places as the week progressed. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors generally maintained the high rates experienced in previous weeks. Most yearling grades to feed received stronger competition with a large sample of heavy classes averaging four cents/kg dearer.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter sold to a market four to seven cents/kg better, and heavy categories over 750kg live weight were not penalised and made to the same money as the lighter classes. Full mouth bullocks were also in demand and sold at rates only nine cents/kg behind the younger classes. Cows commenced the week on a firm trend however as the week progressed average values moved upwards and by mid and late week markets price improvements of two to four cents/kg was fairly common.

Prices solid

State indicator prices were generally unchanged on last week with just the odd adjustment either side of firm for most grades. There were some improvements to yearling grades and export lines of heavy steers and bullocks also improved, as did cows. The Queensland vealer steer indicator moved three cents lower to 211¢, the trade steer indicator dropped four cents to 205¢ and the feeder steer indicator was firm at 201¢/kg. Export grades made gains, with the heavy steer indicator lifting two cents to 181¢ and the cow indicator gaining one cent to finish at 135¢/kg.

Saleyard numbers in Queensland this year peaked in the second week of April, which was just a week earlier than the previous year. Since then numbers fell away and total supply at markets reported by MLA's NLRS has not surpassed the 20,000 head mark since the beginning of May. There has been a build up in recent weeks, with Dalby picking up in size and Roma remaining subdued, as Dalby surpassed Roma's weekly total for the first time since last November.

Longreach have sold around the 3,000 mark over the past three weeks which also indicates a few more numbers are emerging out of the western districts.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Winter numbers steady

Yardings this week came back 10 per cent on last week however were close to the weekly average that has been experienced throughout winter this year, of 15,000 head per week at MLA's NLRS reported saleyards. Dubbo remains the largest cattle selling centre in NSW and this year to date has widened the gap on the second largest centre in Gunnedah. Both centres draw from wide areas and parts of their supply areas have received well below average rainfall this year to date.

This has resulted in Dubbo numbers being up 27 per cent and Gunnedah penning 11 per cent more cattle so far this year. Dubbo also yarded more numbers than it did during 2009 when seasonal conditions were also far drier than last year. Coonamble is the only other centre to experience significantly higher throughput that last year, with Scone on par with year to date tallies.

Comparatively, on the Northern Tablelands Armidale is down 35 per cent and Inverell 0ver 20 per cent this year to date. On the Central Tablelands, CTLX has yarded 17% less numbers at prime sales while Wagga, Tamworth, Casino and Scone are around 10 per cent back on the same period last year.

Market conditions have been up and down in recent weeks although there has been no sharp movement in either direction. Quality tends to dictate most price determination, with definitive demand for well conditioned prime vealers and yearlings and also some continued underpinning of the market by restockers which has kept a floor in the store market. Export cattle have received increased demand over the past week despite the negative global economic sentiment.

Cows and steers dearer

Heavy steers, cows and vealer steers were the forward movers and heifers and all grades of yearlings were slightly cheaper. Restocker vealer steers in the 200-280kg range averaged firm 214¢ or $495 to $520/head. At Dubbo vealers made out to 224¢/kg with some solid demand from processors. Similar vealer heifers returned to the paddock for three cents more, to also average 214¢/kg. There continues to be some strong butcher demand at Scone and some good cattle emulating from the Merriwa district.

Medium weight C muscled yearling steers gained three to six cents for restocker and feeder lines and dropped one cent to the trade, with restockers paying 212¢, feeders 205¢ and the trade 213¢/kg.

Grown steer and cow prices received the largest turnaround in values due to increased demand on tighter supply and a relief from the high A$ . Heavy weight grown steers were dearer by five to eight cents, averaging 174¢ to 188¢, along with bullocks which moved slightly higher for most grades, to 174¢, with a top price of 197¢/kg.

Cows averaged 143¢ to 150¢/kg for D3 and D4 medium weights. The heavy weights sold for 140¢ to 150¢, topping at 160¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

More rain forecasted

A week of fine and mild weather was recorded throughout the southern agricultural districts of WA this week. Day time temperatures were moderate with nights cold and this throughout some limited frosting to in land areas, but generally none were heavy enough to cause damage to either crops or pastures.

Weather forecast have predicted a solid cold front will across the WA coast across the weekend period bringing wide spread rainfall across the southern land division wit showers expected until early next week. Forecasts have indicated that falls in coastal areas could be as high as 50mm with eastern parts seeing readings of between five to 10mm of moisture. This would set up the already strong seasonal conditions in the south of WA for a very strong entry into spring as both crop and pasture growth has responded solidly to the moist conditions of the past month or so.

Feed conditions in much of the north remain high with parts of the Murchison and Gascoyne regions continuing to record reasonable rainfall levels. Saleyard numbers were lower this week as Muchea recorded smaller numbers and the Great Southern fixture absent due to the current fortnightly selling format that remains in place till the end of this month. The southwest's sale was larger, but numbers remained low.

Cow volumes were again a highlight of yardings with good supplies of cows again sourced from pastoral areas. Pastoral steer volumes were solid also with locally bred grades of heavy and trade weight steers and heifers again hard to find.

Market demand remains buoyant

Vealer numbers were restricted with the majority again confined to lightweight calves. Demand fails to diminish on the limited supplies of these classes of cattle from either the local retailer, trade and restocker sectors.

The supplies of grain assisted yearlings remained only moderate this week with quality and weight both again mixed. Heavier trade classes in excess of 400kg lwt continued to enjoy a solid local trade and retailer demand which ensured little or no change in overall price levels. Lighter weights less than 400kg realised a firm and reasonable demand also from the feeder sector. There were tight supplies also of locally bred and sourced yearling sores this week.

Demand remains at very solid levels throughout the classes from both the feeder and restocker sectors with little or no change recorded in price levels, irrespective of sex.

There was a good quality available in the good numbers of heavy weight pastoral steers. Trade demand on bullock weights increased regaining the losses of the previous week, while heavy (500kg to 600kg) export weight grades recorded a slight softening in values with prices lower by three cents/kg lwt. Prime heavy weight cow values also eased under a more erratic trade competition and demand.

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