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 9 December 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales

Numbers climb

Following on from the rain affected markets last week, all markets reported by MLA’s NLRS offered larger yardings which resulted in the state total climbing 31 per cent. The only exceptions were Armidale, which was impacted by further rain, while Singleton also offered a slightly reduced yarding. When compared to this week last year, supply was up 16 per cent.

Quality has remained of a high standard, even with the larger numbers, as restockers and feeders were catered for with well bred but unfinished lines being also offered. This was typically evident in the young cattle, while Tamworth also had a fair supply of grown steers that were also more suited to restocker or feeder buyers. The cattle suitable for the local or export markets were carrying plenty of weight and condition.

Young have again been in the largest numbers, accounting for 61 per cent of the states total numbers which is similar to the past few weeks. Feeders and restockers placed a solid floor in the market securing almost 74 per cent of the young cattle. Restockers focused most of the attention on the light weights while feeders were more active on the medium or heavy weights. Prices for young cattle were mostly firm to 10¢/kg dearer although some of the lighter muscle lines were cheaper. The EYCI at the completion of Thursday’s markets reached the highest December level on record of 410.50¢/kg cwt.

Grown cattle were mostly cows although a fair run of grown steers was also offered. The grown steers and bullocks at times struggled under the extra numbers and finished generally close to firm. Cows continued to make ground with medium and heavy weights firm to 3¢/kg dearer.

Dearer prices

Vealers were generally 5¢ to 9¢/kg dearer as medium weight vealer steers to restockers ranged from 241¢ to 257¢ as those to the trade made closer to 250¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter made to 255.2c to average 245¢ as restockers paid around 238¢/kg. Light yearling steers to restockers gained 8c to 243with sales to 284¢ with the medium weights closer to 226¢/kg. Medium and heavy yearling steers to feeders ranged mostly from 209¢ to 222¢/kg. The few medium weights to the trade averaged 217¢ and heavy weights were closer to 207¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to feed and restockers ranged from 214¢ to 218¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders averaged 209¢ which was 6¢/kg dearer. Heavy weights to slaughter sold to 224¢ to average 194¢/kg.

The majority of medium weight grown steers to feed remained unchanged at 202¢/kg. Heavy C3 grown steers averaged 196¢ as the C4s sold closer to 198¢ with sales to 210.2¢/kg. Bullocks made to 205.2¢ with most around 194¢/kg. The medium weight D2 and D3 cows were up to 2¢ dearer to range from 143¢ to 158¢/kg as the D4s topped at 184.2¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows reached 186.2¢ to average 162¢ as a run of high yielding C muscle lines made from 169¢ to 175¢/kg.


Rain affects supply

Wet weather hampered supply and numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell 15 per cent. However there was a large variation in numbers from centre to centre depending on when and where the rain fell. Supply increased at the Toowoomba markets, and numbers jumped at the Roma store sale due to the majority of cattle being trucked to the sale before 45mm of rain fell across the local area. Most consignments were from the local supply area and south-west parts of the state with large consignments of cows from the Northern Territory. However by mid week the rain resulted in a large dip in supply at Dalby, and the continuing rain in the west cancelled the Roma prime sale.

All the major export processors were present and operating at most markets and buyer attendance was generally good in the young cattle section with restockers in larger numbers in the rain soaked yards and values lifted accordingly. The extra competition forced southern processor buyers to pay more for suitable calves and vealers and lightweight yearlings and average prices improved by 5¢ to 10¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed generally maintained recent improved rates, while in places feeder buyers turned their attention to the heifer portion and values at Dalby lifted by 7¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter across all markets averaged 1¢ to 3¢/kg better and despite some consignments at Dalby not up to the previous week standard values remained very strong. Cows gained some ground at markets early in the week and the strong trend continued as the week progressed and managed to finish firm on recent improved rates.

Values firm to dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 10¢ dearer at 232¢ and sold to 240.2¢, while restocker lines mostly sold around 250¢ with some to 268.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to butchers, local and southern processors averaged 7¢ better at 222¢ and sold to 246.2¢/kg. A fair supply of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 234¢ with some well bred lines reaching 272.2¢/kg. The largest number of medium weight feeder descriptions averaged 221¢ and made to 248.2¢, while a good supply of heavyweights averaged 211¢ and made to 230.2¢/kg.

Heavy classes of slaughter lines generally sold to the supermarket trade at 206¢ with sales to 229.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to slaughter averaged 5¢ dearer at 219¢ with some to 242.2¢, while feeder and restocker lines averaged 218¢ and 219¢/kg respectively. Medium and heavy weight feeders both averaged 210¢ and medium weights made to 229.2¢ and heavyweights 220.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 212.2¢ to average 5¢ better at 204¢/kg. A good supply of bullocks averaged 1¢ better at close to 203¢ with sales to 213.2¢/kg. A handful of heavy certified grainfed bullocks made to 220¢/kg to return $1,687/head. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 148¢ and good heavy cows made to the occasional 191.2¢ to average 172¢/kg.

South Australia

Increased yardings

The SA LE had a slightly larger yarding that contained mainly young cattle and cows in mixed quality runs. They generally sold to a dearer trend to the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were also very active and assisted prices to dearer levels for vealer and yearling steers, together with the yearling heifers and lightweight bulls.

Naracoorte’s overall quality slipped on an increased yarding that contained mainly local bred and small lines of fresh quality pastoral breds. While Mt. Gambier’s numbers retreated they were in good quality runs featuring well bred B muscled vealer steers that sold to strong competition at dearer levels. However, most other categories were generally cheaper. Millicent had an increased numbered yarding that also featured many good quality vealers.

Most of the usual SA and Victorian trade and processor buyers were present and making purchases together with some supermarket input in the South East, albeit only on a limited basis. Feeder and restocker orders were quite active at generally dearer levels on mainly Angus vealer and yearling steers, with a few heifers also attracting their attention. While most trade buyers tried to lower their prices, a few are reporting that dressing percentages are on the way down as warm weather and drying pastures starts to affect quality.

It is also interesting to note that many cattle producers have not made hay this year as there are adequate supplies after last year still in the shed that is expected to see them through.

Fluctuating trends

While some vealers attracted a dearer trend, most other categories tended to sell at lower levels. Vealer steers to the trade on B muscled runs sold from 210¢ to 250¢ to be 2¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. The C muscled sales were between 190¢ and 235¢ or 4¢ to 7¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker purchases were generally from 200¢ to 228¢, or a few cents either side of unchanged. Vealer heifers sold erratically to the trade from 184¢ to 241¢ to vary from unchanged to 5¢ cheaper, and up to 16¢/kg dearer for selected lightweights. Heavy weight yearling steers were from 168¢ to 208¢ or 2c/kg less. Feeders sourced increased numbers from 160¢ to 218¢, or 6¢ to 24¢/kg more. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights sold from 162¢ to 200¢ to be 2¢ to 5¢/kg lower.

Grown steer and bullock sales were between 164¢ and 195¢ to be unchanged to 9¢ cheaper with heavy steers most affected, as carcase weight prices ranged between 290¢ and 340¢/kg. The majority beef cows sold mainly between 128¢ and 156¢ to be 1¢ to 5¢ cheaper, and generally in a 260¢ to 300¢/kg cwt price range.


EYCI climbs

As the typical Christmas and New Year holiday period is quickly approaching supply increased 17 per cent across markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. All markets except for Camperdown, which was only down slightly had larger numbers. Wodonga, Pakenham and Shepparton accounted for well over half of the cattle offered. When compared to the corresponding time last year supply is up by around four per cent.

Young cattle prices were mostly unchanged for better quality stock, however some of the plainer lines showed greater variation. Feeder purchases of light cattle were dearer while the medium and heavy weights were cheaper. Restockers tried to make their presence felt but in many cases were not able to match the prices the feeders and trade were willing to pay to secure supplies. Some of the vealers were under competition from NSW wholesalers. There is strong demand for young cattle across the eastern states and this can be highlighted by the EYCI which at the completion of Thursday’s markets was 410.5¢/kg cwt. This is the highest December value on record, and is 24¢/kg cwt higher that this time last year.

Grown cattle were in the largest numbers and accounted for 65 per cent of the states throughput. Early week markets were dearer for grown steers and bullocks, but as the larger numbers were absorbed the later week sales were cheaper. Cow trends were mixed, but mostly cheaper, particularly those that recorded gains last week under strong northern processor competition. Wodonga, Shepparton and Camperdown were 5c to 12c cheaper, while Colac was up to 20c/kg cheaper.

Varied price trends

Well bred and properly finished vealers are still in demand as medium weight steers made to 263.2¢ and the heifers topped at 252¢/kg. These cattle are providing excellent dressing percentages of over 58 per cent which is assisting buyers. Restockers paid around 219¢ for medium weight vealer steers as heavy weight steers and heifers to the trade mostly made from 205¢ to 217¢/kg. Even though there were more vealers penned, competition was strong for yearlings. Supplementary fed steers sold to 232¢ and heifers to 220¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to the trade averaged 194¢/kg. Good heavy yearling heifers to slaughter averaged 183¢ as the plainer lines made closer to 176¢/kg.

Heavy steers made to 202.2c with most sales from 185¢ to 188¢/kg which was slightly cheaper. The small numbers to feed reached 203.2¢/kg. Good bullocks lost 2¢ to average185¢ with the D muscle lines selling closer to 178¢/kg. Lean medium weight cows eased 7¢ to average137¢ as the D3s slipped 2¢ to 147¢/kg. The top of the heavy young cows sold to 175.2¢, and most heavy beef cows from 149¢ and 154¢/kg. Better quality dairy cows returned 140¢ to 162¢, as the 1 score cows made 90¢ to 138¢/kg. The carcase weight price average was estimated to be 303c/kg.

West Australia

Solid cow supplies again seen

The weather pattern in the southern agricultural districts again played a major role in seasonal conditions as wide spread thunderstorm activity was evident across a wide area. Rain was wide spread with falls over a wide range with some wheatbelt areas recording readings in excess of 100mm for a 24 hour period. This has again had a detrimental effect on grain quality and harvesting activity. There were a lot of areas suffering negative effects on dry pastures. Conditions in the northern parts of the state continued to experience hot temperatures and coupled with the time of year will impact on pastoral cattle movement.

Despite this there were still solid numbers of pastoral cattle forwarded to Muchea. This coupled with an increase in local numbers resulted in solid increase in total numbers.

Further to this the Great Southern saleyard also enjoyed larger vealer supplies, while trade sales were lower as restockers and feeders were active.

Trade weight yearling volumes were again fair, while there were greater numbers of new season vealers penned. Despite the larger supplies of local cattle the overall supplies of heavy grown steers and grown heifers remained negligible at all centres. The strong recent market conditions for cows continued to encourage producers to use saleyards as their preferred marketing option with very good supplies of both local and pastoral numbers recorded. Bull numbers were again healthy.

Slaughter grades recorded lower demand

The larger supplies of new season vealers continued to be well spread throughout the weight ranges with quality remaining fair and reasonable. There were increased supplies of heavy vealers and these recorded slightly weaker feeder interest that resulted in a cheaper trend of 5¢ to 7¢/kg. This was also the case for the light and medium weight steers. Trade weight grass finished yearling quality remained fair.

As has been the case in recent weeks there was weaker demand from both the local trade and feeder sectors that impacted negatively on both steer and heifer classes. Local yearling store quality remained mixed and this market was again well supported by the local feeder and restocker sectors with little or no discernable change in prices.

The majority of heavy grown steer, bullocks and grown heifer sales remained comparable to recent weeks as the processing sector competed for numbers. Cow quality and weight were both again solid in both pastoral and locally bred classes. Processor demand failed to maintain the high levels of the previous week with most classes recording lower prices. This constriction to prices was also recorded on the heavy weight bulls.

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