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 24 February 2012
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Numbers jump

As the Roma Store sale and Longreach sales returned to the selling roster, supply at MLA’s NLRS reported markets increased a large 55%. The total yarding was the largest since the middle of November last year, as Longreach, Dalby and the Roma Store sales combined to account for almost 70% of the cattle offered. The forecast rain and recent cheaper prices though meant that across most centres yardings were lower on last week with just Murgon, Warwick and Toowoomba Landmark larger.

Young cattle accounted for 63% of the states throughput with yearling steers the single largest category penned. Restockers and feeders continue to underpin the market, purchasing a combined 72% of the young cattle,, leaving just 28% for the trade. Of the grown cattle, cows represented almost 50% while around 32% were grown steers.

The highlight of the Toowoomba Elders market was a run of good quality cattle from the Goombungee Haden Oakey Beef Classic. Overall though quality was varied and this was reflected in the prices achieved. This trend was also evident at other market as all centres had properly finished cattle through to the plain lines.

A cheaper trend was evident for young cattle. The small run of vealers sold to a mixed trend as the bulk were firm to 13¢/kg cheaper. Light and medium weight yearling steers were 10¢ to 20¢ cheaper as the heavy weights lost up to 5¢/kg. The yearling heifers sold to similar trend as the steer portion with the medium weights suffering the greatest falls. Grown steers were also cheaper by 2¢ to 6¢/kg. Cow were the least affected falling market with most categories firm to 3¢/kg cheaper.

Cheaper trend

The small number of calves returning to the paddock reached 250.2¢ as those to the trade sold closer to 199¢/kg. Medium weight vealer steers to the trade sold from 187¢ to 201¢ as the heifer portion averaged 202¢/kg. A large number of light yearling steers returning to the paddock lost 15¢ to 226¢ as the medium weights made close to 199¢/kg. The medium weights to feeders sold from 203¢ to 215¢ as the heavy weights eased 5¢ to 189¢/kg. A handful of medium weights to the trade averaged190¢ with the plainer lines closer to 167¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to restockers lost 15¢ to 207¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders ranged from 190¢ to 195¢ which was 10¢ to 20¢/kg cheaper. The better medium and heavy yearling heifers to the trade sold mostly in the early to mid 180¢/kg range while the plainer lines made from 158¢ to 170¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders eased 2¢ to180¢ as heavy C4 steers to export slaughter dropped 4¢ to 180¢ with sales to 192¢/kg. Bullocks made to 190.6¢ with most closer to 182¢/kg. Light D2 cows averaged 121¢ as the D3s in large numbers lost 4¢ to 143¢/kg. Heavy cows made to 174.2¢ as the D4s averaged 158¢ which was 3¢/kg cheaper.

New South Wales

Numbers fall away

Cattle yardings at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS decreased 16%, with several larger selling centres penning a reduced amount of cattle. Supplies are roughly 20% back compared with the same period in 2011. Numbers in the north of the state remain restricted with the wet summer conditions prevailing. Inverell, Gunnedah and Tamworth supplies were all back, while numbers at Dubbo reduced with western regions now affected by the migrating flood waters. Consignments as CTLX were also reduced, as weekend storms meant numbers fell 18%.

Young cattle numbers were back but quality remained fairly similar to the previous weeks, with plenty of secondary lines available. Restocker and feeder orders were strong on the well-bred pens and the mixed quality section mainly sold to weaker demand. Vealers to the trade were in good numbers, with processors especially keen to purchase vealer heifers.

Grown steers carried good weight, with the strong seasonal conditions and mild temperatures generally allowing for solid weight gains. Cow numbers were back, with the softer prices from the processing sector enticing producers to hold onto their breeders. This is despite demand for manufacturing beef remaining high – with the higher A$ eroding the benefits of this to livestock prices.

Direct to works rates over all cattle categories decreased, with processors across the state showing reduced demand. The tough export trading conditions caused by the higher A$ has mainly impacted grown cattle prices, although young cattle rates were also weaker this week. Processors are reporting that cattle are still in excellent conditions, with higher yielding and heavier carcases.

Demand weakens

The only categories to increase in price overall were vealer steers as they gained 11¢ and yearling heifers which were 14¢/kg dearer. Yearling steers tended to be steady while vealer heifers and cows reduced by 7¢/kg. Grown steers and bullock indicators were also down slightly, as export processor demand remained soft.

The medium C2 vealer steers to trade reduced to 225¢ while restockers paid 239.4¢/kg. Restockers paid up to $860/head or 209.5¢ for heavy C2 steers while feeders paid 206.8¢/kg. Heavy C3 feeder steers were unchanged at 192.3¢/kg. The light C2 yearling heifers to feeders were slightly cheaper 192.6¢/kg. The medium C2 yearling heifers were reduced 7¢ to be 186.9¢ while C3 heifers followed suit to be 189.9¢/kg.

Medium weight grown C2 steers were close to firm at 186.5¢/kg. The heavy C3 steers sold firm at 179¢ while C4 were also unchanged at 182¢/kg. Medium D2 cows were reduced 5¢ to sell at 130¢ while the D3 lines also sold cheaper at 139¢/kg. The heavy D3 cows made 143¢ to be 2¢ lower and the D4 cows finished at 147¢/kg. The few light C2 bulls averaged161.5¢ while the heavy C2 bulls made 157¢/kg cwt.


Yardings lower

The decline in quality was one of the main factors behind young cattle selling to a cheaper market. This was despite overall supply falling 19% at MLA’s NLRS reported markets, with competition from all buyers noticeably weaker in the eastern states. There was however a dearer trend for some of the vealer pens, with quality contributing also. The Easter Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) compared to last week has fallen 8.25¢ and at the completion of Thursdays markets was 381.75¢/kg cwt.

Demand was stronger for the better quality vealers which reached a topped of 246¢/kg. There were some highlights for yearling steers and heifers, as the C muscle steers were firm to 5¢/kg dearer. There were some good results for heifers as a supermarket was more active, which aided price increases of up to 7¢/kg for heifers meeting their specifications. Processor demand was mainly firm with direct to works rates unchanged, with a good amount of cattle already consigned for the coming weeks.

Prices for grown cattle were generally better with one export processor returning to more markets after a lengthy break. Grown steer and bullock prices were mostly dearer, although some discounting occurred for excessive weight, and some manufacturing steers lost ground.

Some discrepancies occurred at cow markets. The general trend was firm to dearer, but Camperdown with over 600 cows penned was cheaper by 8¢ to 14¢/kg as competition was reduced. For most sales the extra competition lifted prices 2¢ to 8¢, as the carcass weight price was estimated to be 278¢/kg cwt.

Prices edge lower

Some excellent quality vealers were made between 210¢ and 246¢ as the C muscle vealers ranged from 190¢ to 230¢/kg. The majority of the light and medium weight yearling steers made 185¢ to 210¢/kg. Heavy weights mainly sold between 175¢ and 198¢/kg. Due in part to supermarket competition, a number of yearling heifers sold from 194¢ to 215¢/kg. However, plainer D muscle yearling heifer prices varied from 155¢ to 192¢/kg.

As the supply of grown steers and cows reduced, demand increased as most of the pens were above average in quality. Heavy, well finished grown steers sold from 175¢ to 194¢/kg. Several pens of excellent quality Angus bullocks at the Leongatha market sold from 180¢ to 186¢/kg. However, with prices varying greatly across the state, most prices ranged from 165¢ to 178¢/kg.

The better quality beef cows made 125¢ to 160¢/kg. The heavy end of the dairy cows ranged from 112¢ to 153¢, and the poorer quality lines sold from 60¢ to 132¢/kg. Across the various cows markets, carcass weight price averages were between 249¢ and 292¢/kg cwt. Heavy B muscle bulls topped at 178.6¢ and averaged 7¢ higher on 162¢/kg.

West Australia

End of split sales

Moist continues remain in the far north of the state with a reasonable wet season continuing. There was some moderate rain recordings also throughout the Pilbarra and Gascoyne regions. Further to the south, the Agricultural regions recorded another week of predominately fine and hot weather with some isolated thunderstorm activity realised in eastern parts.

Feed conditions in the traditional cattle growing areas of the south remain solid with no pressure this year from water shortages. This years calving continues with the first of this seasons calves now on the ground.

There were similar supplies of cattle at all physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Muchea had lower numbers, but this was off set by larger numbers at the Great Southern sales. Pastoral cattle supplies were only moderate and lower than those in recent weeks, which would be expected at this time of year. Vealer supplies improved this week due to improved volumes penned at the Great Southern sale.

As has been the trend this year there were only moderate supplies of trade weight yearling steers and heifers were available, while the supplies of all classes of heavy grown steers and heifers remained limited. Cow volumes were lower with weaker supplies of both local and pastoral grades recorded in physical markets.

Processor demand across the majority of slaughter grades remained very buoyant, while feeder and restocker demand became more selective. There was little or no demand in vealer and lightweight bull categories from the live export sector.

Cow market maintained

Vealer quality and weight were far more mixed. Demand from the feeder and restocker sectors was generally recorded at lower levels comparable to the previous week. Medium and heavy weight vealer steer sales were lower by 3¢ to 4¢/kg, but despite this heavy weight vealer grades enjoyed solid local processor competition. Lightweight vealer steer sales remained similar to restockers, while most vealer heifer sales were lower by between 4¢ and 10¢/kg lwt. Trade weight grass finished yearling trade steer and heifer quality was fair. Demand for these from the local trade remained firm with little or no change recorded in average price levels.

The very limited supplies of heavy grown steers and bullocks remained similar in value across both local and pastoral grades. This was also the case in grown heavy weight heifer classes.

Cow quality was maintained. Demand for cows of all weights and condition scores continued to be very strong from the processing sector. Subsequently the values throughout the cow classes remained similar. Heavy weight bull values were again lower with prices generally back between 5¢ to 8¢/kg.

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