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

New South Wales

Cattle throughput jumps

Cattle supplies at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS increased 13% for the week, although the yarding trends were mixed between regions. Casino recorded a reduction of 22% while numbers at Goulburn were down by half. The largest increases occurred at Singleton and Tamworth with consignments doubling. Numbers at Dubbo increased and this was the largest selling centre. The stormy weather experienced over the past fortnight subsided to a degree this week, allowing for the more even flow of cattle.

Yearling steers and heifers were well supplied across most markets while vealers were scarce. The quality is still above average considering the end of summer is looming, with high yielding cattle in prime condition widely available. However, with demand relatively higher for light store cattle to place on feed a number of producers are selling cattle at lighter weights.

Grown cattle numbers were fairly stable and grown steer quality was good, with plenty of heavy weights available. Cow quality is strong, with CFA cows generally in fat score 3 or better condition.

The increasing numbers were the main reason for slightly weaker competition in the physical markets, even though all buyers were present and operating. Processor buyers are still using a degree of caution with some uncertain circumstances impacting the cattle market. The A$ remains high and some traditional export markets are still showing weaker demand. Feeder buyers remain active and once again brought the majority of the vealer and yearling supplies.

Prices easing

Trade buyers secured the majority of C2 vealer steers at an average price of 228¢ while restockers paid between 227¢ to 240¢/kg. Light C2 yearling steer prices were reduced by 5¢ to average 219¢/kg. The C2 medium yearling steer lines followed suit to sell at 208.6¢/kg to a mix of restocker and trade orders. The heavy pens to the trade made 195¢ to be generally 4¢/kg cheaper, while restockers paid less at 190.7¢/kg. The light C2 yearling heifers returning to paddock topped at 233¢ and averaged 198¢ while the medium lines averaged 193.6¢/kg. Trade buyers bought medium heifers for 196.8¢ at prices 4¢/kg reduced. Heavy yearling heifers to trade sold between 166¢ and 209.2¢ to finish at 184.2¢ or 3¢/kg cheaper.

Medium steers improved 3¢ to be 183.1¢/kg. Heavy grown steers were mostly purchased by processors who paid reduced prices of 180¢ for the C3 lines and 181.5¢/kg for the C4s. The C4 bullocks were purchased for 179.2¢ as prices reduced by 2¢/kg. Medium D2 cows to restockers improved by 12¢ to sell for 150.5¢, while processors paid 3¢ more on last week at 143.8¢/kg. The heavy weights were 3¢ lower and finished at 148.1¢/kg.


A small lift in supply

Isolated falls of rain in parts of the supply area reduced numbers at some markets early in the week, while the re-entry of the Roma Prime sale after a fortnight break only lifted overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 9%. Despite weight restrictions on a number of roads in western districts a fairly large number of store and prime cattle managed to make it in and out of the Roma saleyards.

Overall quality at most markets was mixed however there was a fair consignment of bullocks and cows from the eastern side of the flooded districts included in a line-up at Toowoomba. All the usual panel of export buyers was present and operating, along with a large contingent of feeder operators, restockers and trade buyers.

Values for young cattle experienced some improvement with light yearling steers and heifers returning to the paddock lifting 10¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers and heifers to feed at markets early in the week improved 4¢ to 11¢/kg and this trend continued as the week progressed. Heavy yearling steers to feed early in the week improved up to 10¢, however by mid week at Dalby values generally remained firm following the lift in prices last week.

Values for heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter tended to vary at times and experienced a small improvement at mid week sales. Across all markets for the week heavy steers lost 2¢ while bullocks managed to remain firm. Demand for cows was generally good across all markets and regardless of the increase in supply of good heavy cows, prices generally remained close to firm.

Restocker lines dearer

Calves returning to the paddock averaged to 246¢ with the occasional single sale to 267.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to feed made to 250¢, while a fair sample of vealer heifers to slaughter remained unchanged in price at 215¢ with sales to 230¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed averaged 231¢ while those returning to the paddock averaged 10¢ better at 241¢ with sales to 258.2¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers to feed averaged close to 213¢ while the better C3s averaged 226¢ with a few well bred lines to 245.2¢/kg. A fairly large sample of heavy yearling steers to feed averaged 194¢ with a very occasional pen to 218.2¢, and slaughter classes remained firm at 191¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed and slaughter averaged from 209¢ to 213¢, while restocker lines averaged 221¢ with sales to 235¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed were well supplied and averaged 5¢ dearer at 212¢ with sales to 227.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 184¢ and sold to 195.6¢/kg. Bullocks also mostly sold around 184¢ the very occasional pen to 195¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 146c and heavy categories 147¢/kg. The large supply of good heavy cows averaged 161¢ and sold to 170.2¢/kg.

South Australia

Similar numbers

There were mixed results for producers across markets reported by MLA’s NRLS. The SA LE’s larger improved quality yarding met strong trade and export competition due to an additional interstate buyer being present, and a local butcher returning to the rail. However, Naracoorte’s larger mixed quality yarding sold to a weaker trend, with only isolated sales being unchanged and some grown heifers being dearer.

Mt. Gambier’s smaller yarding featured mixed quality runs of young cattle and cows that sold to fluctuating competition. The good quality runs of grown steers and bullocks attracted strong demand. Millicent’s numbers fell and featured mainly young cattle.

While most of the usual SA and Victorian trade and export buyers were present in the South East, some were only operating on a limited price basis, with another merely looking on. The yardings contained mainly local bred and small lines of ex-pastoral cattle with some of the latter quite plain quality. Feeder and restocker orders were also quite active, with one order sourcing light Angus vealer steers that were being purchased for a Queensland client.

The SA LE’s sale attracted solid feeder and restocker activity for lightweights at generally dearer levels. Trade purchases of medium and heavy yearling steers and heifers were dearer, as they recouped some of last week’s losses. Limited numbers of grown and manufacturing steers, together with some grown heifers were cheaper, while the cows tended to remain unchanged. Lightweight bulls to feeder activity were much dearer as they averaged 208¢/kg.

Fluctuating prices

It was a week of fluctuating prices with vealer steers to mainly Victorian wholesale demand selling from 192¢ to 225¢ to be generally 2¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders on increased numbers of B and C muscled light and medium weight steers were from 180¢ to 215¢, with some sales up to 11¢ dearer and others were cheaper. Vealer heifers to the trade and local butchers sold from 162¢ to 220¢ at prices 4¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper. Yearling steer C3 medium and heavyweight sales ranged from 160¢ to 220¢ to be 5¢ dearer for the heavyweights, and 7¢/kg cheaper for the medium weighted. Feeder and restocker purchases were generally between 151¢ and 209¢ at basically unchanged prices. Good quality yearling heifers were from 163¢ to 195¢, or unchanged to 8¢/kg dearer. Pastoral bred heifers sold between 110¢ and 176c/kg.

Grown steer and bullocks ranged between 165c¢ and 193¢ to be unchanged to 6¢ dearer with C4 heavyweights at the higher end, and were averaging 325¢/kg cwt statewide. Most beef cows sold from 118¢ to 146¢, at prices unchanged to 7¢ cheaper and generally 240¢ to 285¢/kg cwt.


Grown cattle dominate

Supply at MLA’s NLRS reported markets eased 3% with an even split between centres that were larger and those that reduced. Overall supply was reduced 8% on the same week last year. While the heavy rain in the northern states has eased allowing transport to flow in most areas, Victoria was dealt some spasmodic weather patterns. Storms over Gippsland saw some parts get as little as 5mm, while others parts had 193mm. The rest of the state received a reprieve from the recent hot conditions with light rain recorded.

While most young cattle and cows sold to solid demand, grown steers and bullocks were cheaper. Young cattle accounted for 43% of the state throughput with most being yearlings. Of the grown cattle cows continued to be in the largest numbers.

Demand was again strong across all vealer categories. Late in the week, in east Gippsland where the vealer season is just getting underway, some heavy vealers sold to 238¢/kg. Aided by better feedlot and restocker demand, yearling steers and heifers sold well, particularly when combined with the interest from processors. However, with quality diminishing a number of plainer conditioned cattle sold at lower prices. The EYCI at the completion of Thursday’s markets slipped 3¢ on last week to 390¢/kg cwt.

There was also strong restocker competition for cows, some purchased empty cows to finish as others targeted those in calf to aid herd rebuilding. Some light cows returning to the paddock made to 189.6¢ with most around 164¢, while medium and heavy weights ranged from 125¢ to 149¢/kg.

Mixed prices

Medium weight vealer steers to the trade sold mostly from 210¢ to 222¢ with sales to 236.6¢/kg. Only a small numbers were secured by feeders and restockers. The better end of the medium weight vealer heifers to the trade generally ranged from 198¢ to 202¢ as the plainer lines made 182¢ to 189¢/kg. Trade purchases of yearlings varied greatly with weight being a factor. Medium weight C3 steers averaged 190¢ to be 5¢ cheaper as the heavy weight C3 and C4s sold mostly in the mid 180¢/kg range. Medium weight yearling heifers returning to the paddock made from 163¢ to 183¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade averaged 191¢ with the heavy weights closer to 178¢/kg. There was a fair run of plain heavy heifers that made from 167¢ to 171¢/kg.

Trends for grown steers and bullocks were mixed. Prices were generally 3¢ to 8¢ cheaper, but there was strong demand for prime Angus steers and bullocks which suffered the smallest losses. Heavy steers made 177¢ to 182¢ with bullocks mostly in the 170¢/kg range. Cow sales were solid, which saw better quality cows make from 135¢ to 158¢ with cows suiting the 90CL market making 85¢ to 138¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 274¢/kg.

West Australia

Vealer season ending

Seasonal conditions in the tropical north remain satisfactory, while the southern corner of the state recorded another hot and dry week. Feed conditions continue to diminish, as would be expected at this time of year with increased supplementary feeding evident in paddocks.

Early calving is underway in some parts of the southwest, while the end of the vealer selling season is now in sight with most producers having already sold their drafts. Next week will be the last of the Great Southern two day sales format with the 1st March the return to one day selling.

There were reduced numbers of cattle offered at physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Muchea’s numbers were considerably lower, while the Mt Barker vealer sale was almost halved. The volumes of pastoral cattle sold in physical markets accounted for the majority of the reduction in Muchea’s yardings. As has been the case for sometime now, supplies of both local and pastoral heavy weight grown steers and bullocks remained limited. This was also the case in heavy weight grown heifer categories.

Grass finished trade weight yearling steer and heifer supplies were also only moderate, while cow categories remained solid. This is due to the strong market conditions that have been evident recently, prompting producers to forward cows into physical markets.

Processor demand, both local and export remained buoyant throughout the majority of classes. Feeder and restocker demand was generally more selective, while live export interest was conservative.

Trade demand maintained

Vealer quality and weight were maintained near recent weeks levels, however this is not expected to last. Better quality drafts of medium and heavy weight steer and heifer vealers lifted up to 4¢/kg, due to an increase in feeder and restocker demand. Locally produced trade weight yearling quality remained fair. Trade demand although solid was slightly weaker than previous weeks with prices easing 3¢/kg in both steers and heifers.

The tight supplies of both local and pastoral heavy weight grown steers and bullocks recorded firm processor inquiry with little or no change evident in average prices. This was also the case in heavy weight grown heifer classes, but there was only very limited supply levels recorded.

There continued to be a reasonable weight and quality in cows offered. The strong demand that has been evident for cows this year continued with prices marginally dearer by 1¢ to 2¢/kg with prime heavy weight local cows averaging 158¢/kg. Demand for heavy bulls continued to wane under more conservative processor competition and this saw a further constriction in average price levels.

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