Weekly Australian 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 27 January 2012
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Supply falls

Producers were reluctant to send cattle to market after the cheaper prices that have occurred in recent weeks. Supply was also interrupted by the Australia Day holiday on Thursday, while Wednesday markets were almost non existent. Throughput was down 48% on last week and 40% lower than the corresponding time last year.

Typically a lack of supply would have sparked stronger demand, but this was not the case. Prices for nearly all classes of cattle were 3¢ to 10¢/lg cheaper. Many processors are working at reduced capacity, with the export works impacted by slow demand from overseas customers.

Young cattle accounted for 56% of the states throughput with yearlings in the greatest number. Upsetting young cattle prices was reduced competition from feedlots and restockers. This resulted in falls of mostly 8¢ to 10¢/kg for suitable lines. The small numbers of good quality vealers and supplementary fed yearlings continue to meet solid demand particularly early in the week. However, this trend was short lived with prices easing back from that point The EYCI was down 15¢ week on week, closing at 390.25¢/kg cwt.

A lack of export competition led to greater price falls for some of the cows and grown steers. Cows were the largest category offered, representing 32% of the states total yarding. One export processor, who has been absent from sales for two weeks, returned but they were cautious when buying. They did have one positive effect on heavy bull prices which managed to go against the general trend to be 5¢/kg dearer.

Cheaper prices

Heavy B muscle vealer steers to the trade made to 232¢ with most sales closer to 211¢/kg. The C2 portion averaged 205¢ after reaching 221.6¢/kg. Restocker and feeder purchases of vealer steers were mostly between 202¢ to 212¢/kg. Most medium weight vealer heifers made from 191¢ to 210¢ with restockers paying to 225.6¢/kg. The heavy vealer heifers to the trade ranged from 198¢ to 208¢/kg. Good supplementary fed yearlings made to 230c/kg. However most yearling steers sold anywhere between 153¢ and 205¢/kg for C muscle grades with the average around 187¢/kg. A similar price variation was realised for yearling heifers, with prices from 154¢ to 189¢/kg.

There was a large reduction in grown steer supply. Medium weight C3s lost 4¢ to 175¢ as the C3 and C4 heavy steers generally made around 175¢ with sales to a top of 187¢/kg. Bullocks sold to 184¢ with most closer to 174¢/kg. Cow quality was spread over a wide range. Restockers were active on light and medium weights but this did not stop prices from being cheaper. Medium weight dairy cows slipped 4c to 111¢ as heavy dairy cows made mostly from 119¢ to 133¢/kg. Heavy beef cows reached 158.6¢ with the D4s averaging 142¢/kg which was 4¢/kg cheaper.


Tighter supply

A combination of rain over the supply area and the short week owing to the Australia Day holiday, numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell 35%. The supply at markets early in the week continued to climb with an increase of up to 52% at some centres, nevertheless as the week progressed and widespread rain across the Western areas numbers declined.

Despite seasonal conditions remaining generally good overall quality across most markets declined, and this was most noticeable in the bullocks at Dalby. A fairly large panel of export buyers was present and operating at Monday's market, however by Tuesdays sale most buyers were in attendance but not all were operating. Wednesday's market at Dalby saw all buyers present nevertheless some did not operate fully. Quality became an issue at the Roma store sale where export feeder buyers stood on the sidelines preferring to wait for better quality cattle to become available.

Values for young cattle continued to slide further, however by mid week the rain and a lot more forecast lightweight classes of vealers and yearling steers and heifers were the least affected and in places gained ground in price pushed on by stronger support by restockers feeder operators and the trade. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers and heifers continued to suffer price reductions throughout the week to lose from 5¢ to 10¢ and up to 20¢/kg on some categories.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter across all markets for the week generally lost 11¢, while at Dalby the lesser quality penned saw average prices 12¢ to15¢/kg cheaper. Cows also experienced a cheaper trend of 8¢ to 10¢/kg with prices deteriorating as the week progressed.

The majority cheaper

The occasional calf with show ring potential made to 271.2¢ with most around 236¢ while the largest numbers to slaughter averaged 209¢kg. Vealer steers to restockers made to 253.2c to average just under 250¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter across all markets remained relatively unchanged at 217¢ with the occasional heavy weight to local butchers at 245¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers averaged 228¢ and made to 255¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed lost 7¢ to 15¢ with most from 207¢ to 215¢, while heavy weight feeders averaged 14¢ less at 192¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers returning to the paddock made to 245.2¢, while most to feed and slaughter sold from 204¢ to 209¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling heifers to feed averaged 2¢ less at 204¢/kg. Local trade descriptions of medium and heavy weights were 4¢ to 5¢ easier to average 197¢ and 187¢/kg respectively.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter both averaged 11¢ cheaper at 184¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows to processors averaged 6¢ less at 127¢ and 3 scores were cheaper by 3¢ at 145¢/kg. A fair selection of good heavy cows across all markets lost 8¢ to average 159¢ the very occasional sale to 173.6¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers retreat

In a week of lower numbers the three physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS had similar sized yardings for this short kill week. While the SA LE’s yarding increased to, Naracoorte’s numbers fell and Mt. Gambier had a much smaller yarding. Millicent did not hold a sale due to the Australia Day holiday.

The SA LE’s mainly young cattle yarding sold to an easing trend provided by the usual local trade and export buyers. Feeder ranks were also reduced with several prominent buyers absent and led to prices retreating quite markedly. Increased numbers of cows also attracted a weaker trend, albeit by not as much as most of the young cattle.

Naracoorte’s mixed quality yarding sold quite erratically to a small number of regular trade and export buyers after last week’s large drop in prices. Two very large weaner sales last week at Naracoorte of around 9,300 head also emptied out paddocks. Most young cattle prices were generally dearer, with only D muscled grown heifers and some grown steers being cheaper. Naracoorte will also have its second cow and bull sale for the month on Friday.

Mt. Gambier’s yarding contained quite mixed quality runs that sold to fluctuating demand from most of the regular trade and processor buyers, with a couple of others just onlookers. There was very strong demand for B muscled vealer steers and well finished vealer heifers at dearer levels, while most other categories were unchanged to 10¢/kg cheaper due to the varying quality available. Feeder and restockers were also active.

Varying trends

There were varying priced trends this week despite the smaller numbers yarded. Vealer steers to the trade sold mainly from 185¢ to 222¢ to be basically unchanged due to the lower prices that were paid at the SA LE. Feeder and restocker purchases were generally from 175¢ to 212¢/kg at mainly dearer levels. Vealer heifers to strong trade demand sold between 180¢ and 215¢, with isolated lightweight sales to 226¢/kg. This tended to leave some heifers 2¢ to 6¢ cheaper, and isolated sales up to 20¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced a wide range of quality from 155¢ to 212¢/kg at mainly lower levels. Yearling steer C3 sales were generally from 182¢ to 203¢ at prices 4¢ to 8¢/kg less. Feeders and restockers sourced C2 and C3 mainly light and medium weight steers from 165¢ to 206¢ at prices around 10¢/kg less. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales ranged from 165¢ to 196¢ at prices unchanged to 6¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steers in small numbers to limited competition sold from 158¢ to 181¢ to be 3¢ to 10¢ cheaper, and mainly 300¢ to 330¢/kg cwt. Most beef cows sold at lower levels, and generally in a 250¢ to 285¢/kg cwt price range.

New South Wales

Mixed quality

As there were no markets on Thursday, due to the Australia Day public holiday, throughput at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS fell 39%. When compared to the same disrupted week last year, yardings were down just over 40%. Supplies across all markets, except for Gunnedah, were reduced. The recent decline in prices as well played in part in numbers reducing. The flooding conditions in the coastal areas of the north coast was also responsible for the yarding at Casino to fall 62%.

The two largest markets of Gunnedah and Wagga accounted for 40% of the states throughput. The trend of young cattle dominating continued as grown cattle represented 33% of the states throughput. Yearlings were in the largest numbers, and outnumbered all the grown cattle.

Quality has remained fair to good at all centres although at Singleton a greater percentage of prime milk vealers and supplementary fed yearlings were penned. Most centres though had larger numbers of the secondary lines, noticeably young cattle, more suited to restockers and feeders.

Prices have continued to retreat, despite the reduction to supply. A factor behind this has been that many markets had less orders looking to make purchases particularly on the export cattle. Inverell went against the trend with the extra trade competition of last week again evident.

Vealers were firm to 8¢/kg cheaper to all orders although some categories were dealt much greater losses. The yearlings suffered falls of 6¢ to 18¢/kg with the steer portion most affected. Grown steers slipped 2¢ to 12¢/kg while the cows suffered similar losses.

Price slide continues

Medium weight vealer steers were generally secured by restockers from 220¢ to 236¢ which was up to 17¢/kg cheaper. The few to the trade held firm at 236¢/kg. The medium weight vealer heifers to the trade eased only 1¢ to 233¢ after selling to 253.6¢/kg. Light yearling steers to feed and restockers ranged from 211¢ to 224¢ as their medium weight counterparts were mostly from 204¢ to 215¢/kg. Across the light and medium weights price falls of 7¢ to 17¢/kg were realised. Heavy weights to feed lost 18¢ to average 194¢, as those to slaughter sold closer to 186¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to feed slipped 6¢ to 199¢ as those returning to the paddock eased 4¢ to 204¢/kg. Medium weight C2s to feed averaged 190¢ while the better covered C3s managed to improved slightly yo 198¢/kg. Medium and heavy weights to the trade lost 6¢ to average 196¢ and 182¢/kg respectively.

Medium weight grown steers to feed lost 5¢ to 187¢/kg. Heavy steers and bullocks were mainly 10¢/kg cheaper. Heavy C3s in large numbers averaged 175¢ after selling to 186.2¢/kg. Bullocks mainly sold in the mid to late 170¢/kg range. Most medium weight cows sold from 127¢ to 138¢ as the heavy cows sold mostly from 139¢ to 145¢/kg.

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