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 3 February 2012
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales cattle summary

Yardings steady

Despite the rain, cattle supplies at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS managed to increase 8% with a return to a full selling week. However, rainfall meant most selling centres penned fewer cattle than the previous week. Gunnedah, Inverell and Wagga were the affected the most by the wet weather – as producers opted to hold cattle with the rain giving hope to a favourable autumn season. Dubbo returned to selling after a fortnight off, throughput was lower due to the rainfall in the western region. With supplies tightening after the rain competition lifted, and the cheaper price trend of the past fortnight was arrested.

Quality was particularly mixed, with a higher proportion of secondary lightweight cattle. Certain markets such as Wagga and Scone reported a lift in quality, with producers keen to take advantage of the slightly more upbeat prices. Grown cattle numbers were back, although the quality and general condition did not deteriorate like the young cattle. Cow numbers were good and heavyweight lines are reflecting the seasonal conditions, carrying plenty of fat cover.

Apart from decreasing supplies, the rain also served to reignite restocker interest state wide. This was evident as a solid amount of vealers and yearlings of all weights returned to the paddock. Feeder demand was inconsistent after several major highways leading to Southern Queensland were cut, with consigned cattle unable to be trucked. Direct to works prices took another hit as export processors show less interest given the climbing A$ and slow start to the year for beef demand.

Competition drives prices

Store vealer steers selling to restocker competition were up to 6¢ dearer with most pens ranging from 242¢ to 263¢/kg. Vealer heifers to restockers gained 2¢ overall and generally sold from 226¢ to 235¢/kg. The better covered medium vealer heifers to processors were firm on 232¢ as the heavier pens averaged 224¢/kg. Light yearling steers to background and restock were firm, selling from 226¢ to 216¢/kg. Feeder steers were back in quality and sold to a firm trend, with the medium weights averaging 216¢ and the heavier liens 195¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifer prices to restockers topped at 224¢ and averaged 202¢/kg. Medium yearling heifers to feed were 11¢ dearer on 201¢, while the better quality heavy C3 pens to the trade settled on 202¢/kg.

A higher proportion of grown steers sold to feeders as the medium weight drafts averaged 6¢ cheaper on 185¢/kg with demand more selective. The better quality heavy pens were up to 8¢ dearer with the C4 steers averaging 185¢/kg. Bullock prices also lifted 8¢ - to settle around 185¢/kg or $1,155/head. Medium weight cow were 10¢ higher on 147¢/kg. The large number of heavy D4 pens topped at 162¢ and averaged 6¢ higher at 151¢/kg.

Queensland cattle summary

Floods disrupted supply

Rainfall was light across the farming areas of the south-east corner of the state, however flooding rain in Western districts dramatically decreased the flow of stock. In a number of areas cattle movements have come to a complete stop. Both the Roma store and prime sales were cancelled due to the flooded roads, and heavy rain in central Queensland has also cancelled a number of sales. Supply in Toowoomba reduced to around half of the previous weeks level, and only scattered falls of rain around Warwick supply fell by 20%, while numbers at Dalby was reduced by 42%.

There was a lift in overall standard in the reduced supply with some good quality bullocks penned and most of the cows were in the 3 and 4 score condition. A fair panel of buyers was present at most markets and the majority were operating. Values for young cattle generally turned around from the cheaper prices experienced the previous week with light and medium weight slaughter lines gaining 2¢ to 3¢/kg. Lightweight lines of yearling steers and heifers to feed generally sold to strong demand. Medium weights to feed also generally met fair competition nevertheless in places some lines struggled to maintain a firm trend. However, heavy yearling steers to feed suffered price reductions of up to10¢/kg in places.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter commenced the week on a dearer trend. By mid week at Dalby demand tended to falter, while average prices lifted 2¢ but this was against a large fall of 15¢/kg experienced the previous sale. Cow values followed a similar trend and while prices improved in places, overall demand was erratic.

Exports slightly dearer

Calves to restockers sold to 244¢ and most of the slaughter lines sold around 229¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock averaged 243¢ and made to 246.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors averaged 216¢ with a few sales to 239.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed and restockers averaged in the mid-230¢/kg range and both classes sold to 251.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged from 215¢ to 218¢ with the occasional well bred line making to 236.2¢, while heavy weight feeders struggled to average 190¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers improved 4¢ to 8¢ with most sales from 212¢ to 216¢/kg. Medium weights to feed met good demand to average 210¢ and slaughter lines improved by 12¢ to average 209¢ with sales to 226.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter mostly sold around 188¢ while a fair supply of bullocks averaged 2¢ better at 186¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 128¢ and 3¢ scores 145¢ while the better 4 scores generally sold around 154¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to a very isolated 178.2¢ with a fairly good selection improving 3¢ to average 162¢/kg.

South Australia cattle summary

Increased yardings

Despite SA LE having a smaller mixed quality yarding, Naracoorte’s numbers increased marginally, with Mt. Gambier’s numbers climbing back to over 2,200 head after last week’s much small pre Australia Day yarding. Millicent had a slightly larger yarding after a two week break.

The SA LE’s yarding sold to an easing trend provided by the usual trade and export buyers, with feeder and restocker orders also bidding cautiously. Few vealers were penned, while the yearling that made up the bulk of the yarding generally sold at lower levels. The few grown and manufacturing steers were cheaper, the C3 grown heifers dearer and the cows basically unchanged.

Naracoorte’s generally improved quality yarding included good quality supplementary fed yearlings. In the early runs these sold to strong demand from the usual SA and Victorian trade and export buyers, before losing steam as quality varied in the later runs. This only tended to lead to a fluctuating priced sale. Naracoorte’s Thursday sale of 4,200 pregnancy tested heifers and cows may also test the resolve of buyers trying to purchase well bred cattle.

Mt. Gambier’s larger yarding attracted strong trade and export competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers at generally dearer levels. Feeder and restocker orders were quite active on a mixture of vealers and yearlings, together with some cows and bulls. Vealer steers attracted strong Victorian wholesale demand sold up to 247¢/kg, with the heifer portion very erratic and hard to follow at times. Millicent’s yarding sold to steady demand emanating from the usual buying contingent.

A dearer trend

It was a generally dearer market trend, despite the lower prices paid at the SA LE’s small yarding. Vealer steers to mainly Victorian wholesale demand sold from 195¢ to 247¢ with lightweights at the higher end, at prices mostly unchanged to 10¢/kg dearer despite many carrying plenty of weight. Feeder and restockers sourced increased numbers from 188c to 212¢/kg also at dearer levels. Vealer heifers attracted erratic competition, as most to the trade sold from 179¢ to 225¢ with a single to 250¢ that left prices varying from 9¢ to 14¢ dearer, and others unchanged to 18¢/kg cheaper.

Medium and heavy weight yearlings with some having been supplementary fed sold from 160¢ to 218¢, at prices 3¢ to 18¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced steers from 165¢ to 195¢ at generally lower levels. Yearling heifer ranged between 160¢ and 199¢ at prices unchanged to 4¢/kg lower.

Grown steers attracted prices mainly between 168¢ and 194¢, to be around 12¢ dearer and averaging 325¢/kg cwt statewide. Beef medium and heavy cows sold mainly from 126¢ to 147¢ to be 1¢ to 6¢ dearer, or generally 245¢ to 290¢/kg cwt.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Supply increases

No interruption from public holidays and supply returned to more normal levels at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. For the first week of February and the number of cattle offered though was lower year on year.

Vealer yardings are well below what is to be expected for this time of year, and along with the lesser supply came improved prices for good quality that was offered. Prices were firm to 8¢/kg cheaper over the balance of the young cattle penned. Were quality suited restocker purchases were dearer, while others were lower. All of this interaction, coupled with mixed results across the Eastern states resulted in the EYCI lifting slightly week on week to 394.50¢/kg cwt at the completion of Thursday’s markets. The EYCI remains 3.25¢/kg cwt above the corresponding time last year.

Price trends varied for grown cattle as well not only from the start to end of the week but between yards. At Wodonga grown steers sold to extra competition from northern buyers and prices lifted up to 9/¢/kg. However, with less northern interest at other Victorian markets, and larger supplies available, prices were firm to 7¢/kg cheaper across the state.

Competition varied greatly for cows too. The lean 1 scores and 2 scores were able to sell to a dearer trend. However, cows carrying condition varied from firm to 12¢/kg cheaper. In East Gippsland a larger number of empty beef cows, in 5 and 6 score condition sold poorly, with some being passed in after failing to attract any bids.

Vealer quality improves

There was an increase in the number of top quality vealers, these made from 200¢ to 238¢/kg. The majority of the C muscle vealer steers and heifer sold anywhere from 165¢ to 225¢/kg. Feeders and restockers were active over a wide range of better quality C muscle, through to plain condition D muscle vealers. The supply of yearling cattle was not large, which aided demand for steers from restockers and feeders with prices reaching 205¢/kg. Purchases by processors were mostly between 185¢ and 195¢, while heavy steers sold mostly from 175¢ to 190¢/kg.

Grown cattle numbers lifted the most, which resulted in prices faltering. Except for Wodonga, where grown steers sold to 200¢, prices were generally between 170¢ and 188¢/kg. A big lift in the number of cows sold met opposing competition.

Better quality cows sold from 135¢ to 165¢, and most lean heavy cows ranged from 120¢ to 148¢/kg. Over conditioned cows sold between 80¢ and 145¢/kg, but averages were lower overall. Many bulls were sold, but prices held steady at the recent cheaper prices. Most heavy bulls sold from 145¢ to 172¢/kg.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Throughput up

Some reprieve after the hot weather was realised late in the week as ex tropical Cyclone Iggy created rain across parts of the state. Prior to this occurring though, the hot conditions meant bushfires were a threat to areas north of Perth.

Dry feed quality has deteriorated but this has not encouraged those with stock to sell in large numbers. Regrowth in stubbles, large feed grain supplies and plantings of summer forage crops have all reduced to the pressure to sell off, which is to be expected at this time of year.

Cattle throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported markets increased but this was after the holiday affected markets last week. Not surprising, the largest gain was recorded at the Great Southern sale which reverted back to a two day format. Muchea though was reduced around 36% as the hot weather and bushfires in the supply area hampered mustering activates. Yardings were also greater than the corresponding time last year.

Quality at Muchea was more consistent as less store drafts were offered. Pastoral drafts were also penned in limited numbers. The quality of the vealers at the Great Southern sale has remained generally good, however the hot dry conditions have started to have an impact. The trade sale quality was generally fair to good with increased numbers of light cows that meet solid restocker enquiry.

Demand was solid from the regular field of buyers. Trade cattle, cows and bulls were slightly dearer early in the week. Vealers though struggled under the extra supplies and quality variations late in the week.

Vealers cheaper

Medium weight vealer steers to restockers in large numbers ranged from 227¢ to 239¢ with sales to a top of 271¢/kg. The few medium weights to feeders averaged 223¢/kg. Heavy yearlings were mostly secured by feeders from 203¢ to 208¢/kg. Those to restockers averaged 212¢ as some were secured by the trade at 207¢ to 214¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers were predominately secured by restockers from 200¢ to 214¢/kg. Heavy weights also returning to the paddock sold closer to 200¢ as those to the trade ranged from 202¢ to 205¢/kg. Light yearling steers to feeders average 225¢ with the medium weight making closer to 211¢/kg. The heavy weights secured by processors ranged mainly from 200¢ to 208¢/kg. Yearling heifers were in only very limited numbers.

Medium weight grown steers made mostly in the mid 190¢ range with sales to 205¢/kg. Good heavy steers averaged 183¢kg. The medium weight cows to slaughter ranged from 145¢ to 151¢/kg. There were fair numbers secured by restockers from 131¢ to 139¢ or $576 to a top of $731/head. The heavy D4 and D5 cows averaged 157¢ after making to a top of 169¢/kg. Light bulls to restockers averaged 177¢ as heavy bulls to slaughter sold mostly around 132¢/kg.

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