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 7 October 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Numbers slip

There has been some further good falls of rain over the past week, with anywhere between 30 and over 80mm received. The rain combined with a public holiday Monday in NSW and SA resulted in supply slipping eight per cent at MLA's NLRS reported markets.

Quality remains reflective of the prices being achieved with some continuing extremes being recorded in young cattle categories. Buyers are continuing to support physical markets that are offering cattle with potentially good dressing percentages, and are subsequently paying very good prices. With a good season expected over most of the state, processors, and at time feeders were more active and paid up to 237¢/kg.

A large percentage of the young cattle were medium and heavy weight yearlings. The lack of vealers and light yearlings resulted in strong demand from butchers, wholesalers, and supermarkets. The slightly better results for young cattle was reflected in the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI), which was 5¢ higher week on week, to be 398¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday's markets.

The recent drop in the A$ is assisting export processors, and this was reflected in grown steer and cow prices, which were generally firm to 4¢/kg dearer.

Additionally, tighter supplies of the export grades have seen prices lift in recent weeks. Once again, good quality cattle were sort after with a fair number of being in prime condition and carrying plenty of weight. This resulted in the dollars per head return to producers being high ­- which has given producers the opportunity to purchase younger replacements.

Competition drives prices

The better quality vealer steers and heifers sold over a wide range, with most pens returning from 210¢ to 280¢/kg. Similarly, the supplementary fed yearlings sold from 200¢ to 245¢, with isolated sales to 270¢/kg. Due in part to supermarket competition, some medium and heavyweight yearling steers and heifers made from 195¢ to 235¢/kg.

Strong demand for the heavy trade cattle resulted in the better quality steers and heifers selling from 180¢ to 212¢/kg. As feedlot competition was reasonable, and restockers secured a large range of weight and quality, most of their purchases were from 170¢ to 225¢/kg.

Strong interaction between exporters and wholesalers for grown steers resulted in prices range from 192¢ to 207¢/kg. Prime heavy bullocks averaged higher with most making between 184¢ and 197¢/kg. Beef cows sold well with most of the medium and heavy pens selling from 148¢ to 174¢/kg. Most of the lean dairy cows made between 115¢ and 150¢/kg.

The carcase weight price average was estimated to be 301¢/kg for the majority of cows sold. Heavy bulls were also well supported, with the B muscle lines averaging 172.5¢, while the C2 drafts settled on 170¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Long weekend halts supply

Cattle supplies at markets reported by MLA's NLRS were around 50 per cent lower - with the public holiday Monday and the soaking rains slowing throughput. Much of the state received welcomed rainfall, which will instil confidence heading into the warmer months.

Cattle consignments eased at every market apart from Casino - as producers everywhere held onto stock despite the strong price levels. Casino numbers edged higher as more secondary vealers were presented. The reduced numbers state wide increased competition and lead to most categories recording a dearer trend.

The quality of prime cattle was generally of a high standard, with the best lines crop finished or supplementary fed. Producers will be hoping for some warmer weather in the next few weeks to allow pastures to come away and ensure the condition of prime cattle remains fair.

The recent rain has also reignited restocker interests - with the effect of this already visible with restockers competing strongly on light yearling steers right across the Eastern States. The proportion of export cattle was again low, particularly for cow yardings. The combination of the tighter supplies and the easing A$ has resulted in grown steer and cow prices edge higher in recent times.

Direct to works rates were again higher, as processors look to attract more cattle. The lack of suitable cattle in some regions has resulted in some processors looking interstate for additional supplies, which has boosted competition. Adding to this has been the strong restocking presence in the markets and the fact that more cattle are being held onto for breeding.

Cattle prices lift

Lightweight younger cattle were pursued by restockers after the rain, with producers eager to secure cattle as the season shapes up well. Light vealer steers to restockers and backgrounders were 24¢ dearer on 260¢/kg. Light yearling steers were also in demand, averaging 228¢ or $646/head, while the medium weight pens settled on 221¢/kg. Restocker activity was less pronounced for females, as the vealer heifers mainly sold at 225¢ and yearlings 209¢/kg.

The restocker dominance meant fewer cattle headed to feed, as medium weight steers averaged firm on 215¢/kg. The heavy pens to the trade were up to 5¢ dearer, as both the C3 steers and heifers ranged from 195¢ to 216¢/kg.

The slightly under conditioned grown steers to feed were mainly sold at 194¢, after sales reached 215¢/kg. Heavy grown steers edged higher as competition intensified, with the C3 lines settling on 197¢/kg. The C4 drafts averaged firm on 198¢, with the few bullocks mainly selling at 198¢/kg or $1,246/head.

Medium weight D3 cows made to a top of 165¢ to mostly sell at 154¢ and the heavyweight D4 pens finished 4¢ dearer on 163¢/kg. Heavy bulls continue to attract solid prices, as the C2 pens averaged 158¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Reduced numbers

It was left to Naracoorte and Mount Gambier to supply cattle for this short kill week due to Monday's Labour Day holiday and no Millicent market being held for another week. Rainfall over the past week also contributed to the lower throughput, as number at the SA physical markets reported by MLA's NLRS declined by 50 per cent.

There were smaller yardings at Naracoorte and Mt. Gambier, with probably the welcome good rainfall late last week and the holiday Monday holding back stock. It will also mean that producers can now finish their cattle to desired levels rather than rushing them into the market place. However, there is also a feeling that there are not large numbers left in the paddocks after a mild winter and good prices combining with increased live shipments that have included future breeding lightweight Angus heifers.

Even with most of the usual Victorian trade and processor buyers operating, a South East processor was very active sourcing enough numbers to fill their weekly kill requirements. With many Victorian regions also benefitting from the wet front that passed through it is thought that Victorian numbers may also tighten, which has been the general trend in the Eastern States since the past week's rain events.

Feeder and restocker orders were also active at mainly dearer levels as they sourced a mixture of mainly Angus vealer and yearling steers and heifers, together with small numbers of grown steers. Lightweight and generally leaner quality cows have also been snapped up by optimistic restockers, while the odd lightweight bull has returned to the paddock.

Young cattle fluctuate

While young cattle categories tended to fluctuate, the weaker A$ triggered stronger demand for the grown steers, grown heifers and cows. Vealer steers to the trade and some local butcher inquiry sold mainly from 215¢ to 256¢, at prices generally 5¢ to 7¢ cheaper and only isolated sales being dearer where quality suited.

Vealer heifers to similar orders sold from 195¢ to 254¢ with once again most 3¢ to 4¢ cheaper and others 6¢ to 7¢/kg dearer where weight and quality were the main criteria. Yearling steer C and B muscled sales ranged mainly between 185¢ and 231c to be unchanged to 12¢/kg dearer, with supplementary feds at the higher end. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were mostly from 184¢ to 212¢ with a supplementary fed sale at 230c, to be 6¢ to 18¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers and bullocks were keenly sourced as most B2, C3 and C4 sales were from 182¢ to 202¢ to be 2¢ to 10¢ dearer, and averaging 340¢/kg cwt. The D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 153¢ to 172¢ with most sales 2¢ to 9¢ dearer and some 1¢ to 3¢ cheaper, as most sold between 285¢ and 325¢/kg cwt.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Numbers decline

Numbers declined as cattle supply continues to tighten across the state. Supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS fell 16 per cent as wet weather in some areas appears to be encouraging livestock producers to hold cattle back in the hope of a good growing season ahead. The Roma store and prime sales experienced a reduction in supply of close to 40 per cent, however the Warwick market went against this trend to record a small increase.

The increase in slaughter values combined with a fair season in a number of areas encouraged restockers to be more active in the market and values lifted accordingly pushed on by some support from interstate restockers. Feeder cattle prices varied in places nevertheless across the state values remained very solid with some classes experiencing a small improvement. Butchers and wholesalers at Warwick battled to secure the better presented lines of vealer's and yearlings, and strong supermarket competition at Dalby increased values by 3¢/kg on heavy grades of yearling steers and heifers.

Despite not all the export operators present in the market values for heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter improved 2¢ to 8¢/kg, with buyers at the Roma prime sale keen to secure the high yielding bullocks from the far Western Channel country areas.

The trend of higher export values flowed onto the cows with prices generally improving 3¢ to 7¢/kg. A fair supply of bulls also met strong demand with restockers keen on lightweight lines, while export processors lifted values 8¢/kg on the heavy weights.

A number of classes dearer

Calves to restockers made to 272.2¢ with a small sample averaging 245¢/kg. Vealer steers to slaughter made to a top of 245¢ with most around 211¢/kg. A fairly large supply of vealer heifers to local and southern processors held firm at 208¢ with a few sales to 244¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers suitable for restockers were well supplied and improved 11¢ to 235¢ with a few pen lots to 255.2¢/kg.

Medium weight yearling steers to feed generally sold close to 215¢/kg. A relatively large supply of heavy weights to feed remained unchanged to average 203¢ with the occasional pen to 224.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 5¢ dearer at 201¢ and restocker lines mostly sold around 207¢ with some to 222.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed gained 5¢ to average 206¢ with sales to 229¢ while slaughter classes made to 231.2¢/kg.

Bullocks sold to 8¢ better at 198¢ with a number of pens to 206.2¢/kg. A handful of heavy bullocks made to 200.2¢ to return $1,540/head. Medium weight three score cows averaged 146¢, and heavy categories averaged 155¢/kg. Good heavy cows mostly sold around 7¢ dearer at 167¢, with one cow making to 180¢/kg to return $1,580/head.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Restocker records

Overall supply increased 14 per cent with all the gain recorded at the Great Southern sale, as Muchea offered slightly reduced numbers but still remained the largest of the selling centres reported by MLA's NLRS. When compared to the corresponding time last year, supply is currently down almost 40 per cent.

When the recent years poor seasons and subsequent cattle offloading, combined with the current improved seasonal conditions with producers looking to retain breeding stock, throughput for the first 10 months of 2011 is 14 per cent below the same period in 2010.

There has been continued rain in the southern half of the state with patchy falls stretching right across to the SA boarder. Some of the better falls were in the Great Southern, Wheat Belt, the Goldfields and into the Interior. Warmer weather in the north will start to impact on mustering activates while the wet season is quickly approaching.

Quality at Muchea was improved and this was particularly noticeable for the pastoral steers and cows. The local trade cattle though were still more mixed for the rather limited supply. Demand was strong for all categories with processors active, although restockers only had limited numbers to select from.

While at the larger Great Southern sale quality was fair to good with restockers and feeders very active. This resulted in some local saleyard record prices being achieved as restockers paid to 289¢ for light vealer steers, 276¢ for yearling steers and 269¢/kg for yearling heifers. The grown cattle were also in demand to be 5¢ to 15¢/kg dearer with processors paying to 164¢/kg for cows.

Most categories dearer

As is expected at this time of year, vealer supply was extremely limited, accounting for just five per cent of the states total throughput. With the light weights selling to records in the south, across the state medium weight vealer steers to restockers averaged 277¢ while those to the trade made closer to 244¢/kg.

Light yearling steers to restockers mostly ranged from 255¢ to 270¢ with medium weights around 256¢/kg. Medium weight C3s to the trade averaged 239¢ with sales to 250¢/kg. Some exceptional B muscle heavy weights sold to 268/c/kg. Light yearling heifers to the trade sold around 225¢ as the restocking lines made closer to 246¢/kg. Medium weight C3s sold around 249¢ with the heavy weights at 227¢/kg.

Medium weight pastoral grown steers sold to solid demand with sales to 182¢ to average 174¢/kg. Heavy grown steers made to 198¢ with most sales from 176¢ to 188¢/kg. Some pastoral bullocks averaged 168¢/kg. The few plainer pastoral cows sold around 107¢ as the better lines were closer to 127¢/kg.

Most of the medium weight cows averaged 148¢ after selling to 159¢ with the heavy cows making around 158¢/kg. Light bulls to live exports made to 240¢ with most selling from 150¢ to 173¢/kg.

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