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 30 March 2012
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Fine weather lifted supply

A return to fine weather across the main cattle producing areas of the state increased supply at physical markets by just under 17%. Although with several roads remaining closed in the drawing region the sale at Longreach resumed. Numbers returned to normal at the Roma store sale as the bottleneck of cattle from recent flooding appears to have mostly moved to market. However most other prime markets in the south of the state recorded increased numbers, with supply at the Roma prime sale more than doubling the previous week’s level.

Buyer attendance in the young lightweight cattle sections across most markets was generally very good, while export processor attendance was erratic, and those operating were more selective. Calves to restockers and vealer heifers to the trade received improvements of 2¢ to 4¢/kg. Restocker buyers were also very active on medium weight yearling steers with a large sample 9¢/kg dearer. However medium weight yearling steers to feed for the domestic market eased in price. Despite not all feedlot buyers in attendance at some markets a fairly large supply of heavy yearling steers experienced no change in price as other buyers picked up the slack and kept prices fully firm.

Prices for heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter commenced the week on a cheaper trend and this continued as the week progressed, resulting in average prices not maintaining the improved rates of the previous week, with losses of 6¢ to 8¢/kg. Cows also experienced a similar trend however price reductions were mostly confined to around 2¢ and up to 6¢/kg on some small samples.

Export slaughter lines cheaper

Calves returning to the paddock made to 269.2¢ to average close to 240¢/kg. Vealer steers also returning to the paddock made to 248¢ with a fairly large sample at 227¢/kg. Vealer heifers were also well supplied and most sold to trade buyers 2¢ dearer at 214¢ with some to local butchers at 225¢/kg. A large number of lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers at 223¢ and medium weights 213¢/kg. Medium weights to feed averaged 203¢ and made to 220.2¢, and a large selection of heavyweights experienced no change in price at 195¢ with the occasional pen to 206.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers were in demand from local and southern processors and averaged 1¢ dearer at 214¢, and feeder descriptions averaged 204¢ and made to 218.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed mostly sold around 193¢ with some to 208.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter generally sold in the 180¢ range with a pen of supplementary fed classes to 198.2¢/kg. A large supply of bullocks averaged 6¢ less at 183¢ with a few sales to 192.2¢/kg. Medium weight cows to restockers sold to 160.2¢, while those to processors averaged 2¢ cheaper at 128¢/kg. Heavy 3 scores averaged 2¢ less at 148¢, while the better conditioned lines generally sold around 2¢ easier at 157¢/kg.

New South Wales

Numbers consistently higher

Cattle supplies at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS lifted 23%, after almost every selling centre penned more cattle. The CTLX market was the only sale to offer fewer cattle, as producers state wide proactively sold cattle in the lead to the Easter holiday period. Dubbo and Wagga were the two largest markets, while numbers were noticeably stronger at Casino and Gunnedah. Several sales are not being held next week to the forthcoming long weekend and this combined with the clearer weather and stable market conditions encouraged the higher turn off.

Young cattle numbers were largely responsible for the lift in numbers, with a higher amount of yearling cattle in the market. This trend was widespread, and a good amount of light and medium weight lines were again available. These generally sold to solid demand from backgrounders and restockers alike, while feeders generally purchased yearling cattle. Heavier supplementary fed and crop finished cattle were in good numbers in the north of the state, with plenty of heavy yearling steers maturing quickly on summer grazing crops. Grown steers were generally in excess of 500kg, and the better quality 0 – 2 tooth pens attracted solid demand.

Prices were slightly weaker as the higher numbers diluted competition, with all grades showing a softer trend. Cattle turnoff throughout the eastern states was also larger, which keep interstate buyers away from some markets. Processor demand was firm and very few changes were made to direct to works rates, with processors reportedly having enough cattle on hand for the coming weeks.

Competition eases

Light vealer steers selling to restockers and backgrounders met a cheaper trend, as the lightweight pens mainly sold from 240¢ to 261¢/kg. Medium weights returning to the paddock were 5¢ lower on 229¢, while the few pens to the trade made 223¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade were fully firm on 225¢ and the restocker pens mostly made 217¢/kg. Light yearling steers to restocker were 5¢ cheaper on 213¢, while the medium weights were 2¢ dearer on 205¢/kg. Medium feeder steer prices were firm on 207¢, while the heavyweights of all grades averaged from 194¢ to 202¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to restock eased 7¢ - to 189¢ and the medium feeder pens topped at 212¢ and averaged 195¢/kg. The better quality yearling heifers to the trade were firm to 2¢ cheaper, selling from 191¢ to 205¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers selling to export feeder demand were 3¢ cheaper on 165¢, while the heavy drafts to slaughter were firm on 185¢/kg. The better quality heavy C4 pens were scarce and averaged 188¢/kg. Bullocks topped at 194¢ and overall averaged 185¢/kg or $1,214/head. Leaner medium weight cows met a firm market, as prices made 136¢, while the better covered pens averaged 143¢/kg. Heavy D3 cows were stable on 148¢ and the better conditioned D4 section made 153¢/kg.

South Australia

Mixed numbers

Numbers fell at the SA LE and Naracoorte, while Mt. Gambier and Millicent had increased yardings. This is all before the South East has reduced numbers of markets due to Easter and ANZAC holidays.

The SA LE’s featured very mixed quality runs that sold to an easing trend, as the usual trade and export buyers minus one Victorian order lowered their prices. Feeder and restocker orders were also active on suitable local bred young cattle and light bulls. However, several large drafts of pastoral bred yearling steers and heifers were shunned by most buyers.

Naracoorte contained local, supplementary fed lots from Loxton and pastoral breeds that sold to steady SA and Victorian trade and export competition from most of the usual buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were also active on young cattle, plain quality cows and some lightweight bulls. It tended to be a fluctuating priced sale due to the varying quality offered, albeit with some lightweight vealer steers and heifers selling up to 260¢/kg.

Mt. Gambier’s yarding sold to a generally dearer trend even though some of the regular SA and Victorian buyers were only making limited purchases. Feeder and restocker orders were also active with some very light Angus vealer steers selling up to 246¢/kg. Yearling steers and heifers were generally dearer, with the medium weight grown steers dearer and the heavyweights slightly cheaper. Beef and dairy cows tended to sell at varying prices.

Millicent’s yarding featured mainly bean and corn finished young cattle that attracted strong competition. There was also mixed quality runs of cows that sold to the usual trade and export buyers.

Erratic Demand

The varying quality offered was generally due to limited rainfall and some producers not having access to hay or supplementary feed.

The vealer steers to the trade sold from 200¢ to 250¢ with isolated lightweight sales at 260¢, at prices 4¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Feeders sourced C2 light and medium weight steers from 190¢ to 246¢/kg, with the medium weights cheaper and the lightweights dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade and local butchers sold mainly from 190¢ to 235¢, at prices varying from 2¢ to 13¢ dearer and 2¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper. The C2 mainly lightweights to feeder activity sold from 194¢ to 215¢/kg at basically unchanged levels. Yearling steer heavyweights sold between 177¢ and 245¢ with C3 sales 2c less, and the B-muscled averaging 10¢/kg dearer. Yearling heifer medium and heavyweights sold generally from 176¢ to 230¢, or unchanged to 8¢/kg dearer.

Medium weight grown steers were 5¢ dearer with the heavyweights averaging 5¢ less, as most sold from 178¢ to 208¢/kg to be averaging 345¢/kg cwt. Cow prices were erratic as most beef cows sold from 131¢ to 162¢/kg, or generally 260¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.


Number up

Easter is looming, and markets next week will be reduced or cancelled. So it was no surprise that there was more cattle penned at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. However, the increase was only around 10%, which was less than expected. The percentage of grown cattle improved aided by some good supplies of grown steers and bullocks.

Demand remained very strong as all the regular buyers were looking to maintain supply for the coming weeks. As physical market prices have increased recently, they have climbed higher than direct to works rates, and this had also attracted greater numbers to markets. A number of processor buyers were securing cattle for slaughter straight away to keep plants operational. At times this helped to prices increase, but more significant is price for quality.

Now that autumn seems to have made its impact felt, and nights are consistently cooler, quality of cattle has noticeably slipped. All classes of cattle are being affected by this scenario. Across most centres more D muscle cattle were penned, and more secondary cattle and crossbred cattle were also offered.

There were lower prices for these secondary cattle, however prices for cattle meeting specifications were generally 2¢ to 5¢/kg dearer. Feedlots and restockers were again very active, purchasing a varied range of quality, weight and breeding. There were exceptions with Wodonga recording increases of up to 12¢/kg for grown steers and bullocks. The EYCI, which closed 1.25¢ down week on week, at 394.25¢/kg.

Vealers firm

Even though potential dressing percentages have slipped 1 to 3%, vealer prices remained firm, making between 220¢ and 268¢/kg. Bairnsdale offered numerous pens of European breed vealers that made from 248¢ to 268¢/kg. The strong demand for cattle by restockers and feeders, resulted in other vealers, and secondary yearlings selling from 185¢ to 220¢/kg. Supplementary fed yearlings sold from 210¢ to 255¢/kg. Weight was a determining factor in prices paid for other yearlings with light and medium weights making to 225¢ and heavier lines ranged from 195¢ to 215¢/kg.

Wholesalers and export processors competed for a range of grown steers and bullocks that varied in weight and quality. More D muscle lots were penned, as prices still ranged from 182¢ to 206¢/kg. At Leongatha numerous pens of manufacturing steers, made from 168¢ to 186¢/kg.

Cows again sold very well with demand for 1 score cows remaining at high levels. Prices were higher for most cows and the carcass weight price average rose to 304¢/kg. Better quality cows sold from 142¢ to 76¢, and most others from 115¢ to 145¢/kg.

West Australia

Dry conditions prevail

Dry conditions prevailed across the majority of the supply areas with no rain recorded across most of the Agricultural districts. Northerly winds gusted to 41km/hour in some areas further reducing moisture levels. With little to no rain forecast producers may elect to offload cattle in the coming weeks. Great Southern selling complex recorded an increase in numbers with supply up 12% week on week, with an increase in drafts suitable for restockers. Throughput remained firm at Muchea with greater numbers of pastoral bred cattle penned.

Vealer supply was solid with both Great Southern and Muchea yarding good portions of heavy weight steers and heifers. Yearling heifers were in increased supply as Muchea yarded a significant portion of light weights suitable for restocking. Yearling steers, although in lower numbers than the heifer portion, remained well represented. Grown cattle were in limited supply with the majority pastoral cattle. Cow and bull throughput remained firm with solid supplies across the majority of categories.

Quality was good at Great Southern which was improved by a notable run of superior heifers returning to the paddock as breeders for 259¢/kg. Overall quality was lower at Muchea with the increased level of pastoral bred cattle significantly dropping the average.

All the usual buyers were in attendance and most made purchases. Trade weight drafts were limited at Great Southern and met with comparable demand assisting prices to hold firm. However demand remained strong for most trade categories at Muchea and processors were more competitive for cows and bulls. Feeders and restockers demand was subdued with no promise seasonal improvements, ensuring buyers remained hesitant and selective with purchases.

Varying price trends

Medium weight vealer steers to restock ranged between 196¢ to 228¢ averaging around 215¢/kg. The heavy end of the vealer steers to feed were 2¢ lower settling around 206¢ to top at 219¢/kg. Light vealer heifers to restock made 186¢ while the medium weight portion ranged from 160¢ to 209¢ to average around 190¢/kg. Heavy vealer heifers to feed were 4¢ lower from 190¢ to 208¢ settling at 199¢/kg. Light yearling steers to feed and restock made from 203¢ to 219¢/kg. Medium weights were in better supply as the C2 and C3 ranged from 186¢ to 219¢/kg. Trade buyers secured heavy yearling steers for an average of 197¢ for the C3 portion and 209¢/kg for the C4 pens. Light yearling heifers were in solid supply with restockers paying around 193¢/kg.

The grown steer category was dominated by pastoral cattle with heavy weights averaging 167¢/kg. The lighter end of the grown heifers to the trade settled at 145¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows were firm to 1¢ lower on 135¢ to top at 146¢/kg. Heavy cows dominated the cow yarding making 143¢ to 156¢/kg to be unchanged. Light pastoral bulls were 10¢ lower on 135¢ while the medium weights were unchanged on 147¢/kg.

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