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 25 May 2012
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales

Supply eases

Supply reduced significantly across MLA’s NLRS reported sale yards with total states throughput back 24 per cent. The greatest reduction in numbers came from Dubbo with 33 per cent less yarded week on week. CTLX also experienced significant reductions to supply with just over 3,600 head yarded. At Gunnedah numbers almost halved and Forbes had almost 500 less cattle available. Throughput at Armidale and Casino has decreased 20 per cent and 25 per cent, while Tamworth was back 33 per cent. Inverell and Wagga centres remained relatively firm while Goulburn experienced a reduction of 37 per cent albeit off a low base. Vealer and yearling steers and heifers were all in about equal supply however there were significantly less grown steers and heifers available. Cows remained in good numbers and were primarily heavy weights. Lightweights made up the majority of the bull supply.

The reduction in numbers also brought about a reduction in overall quality with many secondary types yarded. There were an increased number of unfinished cattle that producers elected to offload rather than carry through the cooler months. While the variation in quality was larger than last week the New England and North West centres reported some good quality young cattle still available. Trade buyer attendance remains strong with the majority active across all weights and categories. Restockers and feeders were also reasonably active despite the onset of the cooler weather.

Prices were mixed however the majority of categories were firm to dearer. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) finished 3¢ higher for the week on 366.5¢/kg cwt.

Prices Firm

Despite a reduction in quality prices remained held ground with restocker interest assisting young cattle prices.

Light vealer steers to restock were 5¢ higher to average 213¢ while the medium weights were up 1¢ to also settle on 213¢/kg. Heavy weight vealers were 4¢ higher on 207¢ while those to feed slipped 2¢ to 200¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to restock and process were firm making 191¢ and 192¢/kg respectively. Heavy weight vealer heifers to the trade made 215¢ to be 11¢/kg higher. Medium weight yearling steers to feed were up 1¢ to 194¢ and those to restock held firm on 192¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to slaughter were also unchanged on 189¢/kg. Restockers and Feeders purchased the majority of yearling heifers and prices averaged 184¢/kg.

Heavy grown steer prices were back 3¢ to 181¢/kg while the C4 bullocks were 9¢ higher on 184¢/kg. Light grown heifers were 2¢ higher on 166¢/kg. Cow prices were mostly higher with the light weight D2’s to process up 1¢ to 118¢/kg. Medium weight cows to slaughter slipped 1¢ to 125¢ and the heavyweights held firm on 134¢/kg. Light weight bulls were back 6¢ to 156¢ and the heavy portion was 1¢ 146¢/kg.


Supply eases

The yardings across MLA’s NLRS markets reduced by 7 per cent, losing ground on last week’s jump. While yarding trends were mixed, the larger markets at Dalby and Roma store reduced 13 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively. Longreach, Mareeba and Moreton had the largest reductions, with numbers falling by half. The supply at Murgon doubled while Roma Prime experienced a 12 per cent increase. The Toowoomba markets combined yarding along with that at Warwick remained firm.

The majority of the yarding was comprised of yearlings, with more steers than heifers. Grown cattle and the majority of steers made the next largest yarded category. There was a strong supply of cows and vealers, while calves and bulls were limited.

With the cool wintry conditions encroaching, cattle have stated to loose condition, with high amounts of cattle pushed into the market. All the usual buyers were present and included some major returning export processors to the buying field. This helped strengthen competition. Operators were keen to make purchases, to secure adequate numbers while prices were firm.

Restockers at Toowoomba helped to boost competition, while feeder operators maintained their strong support on suitable lines of young cattle. Export slaughter lines of heavy steers, bullocks and cows improved in price. Light, medium and heavy weight yearling steers met strong support from feeder buyers at Dalby with prices generally improving. It was an enhanced quality yarding at Roma Prime sale with grown heifers pushing prices up. Roma store numbers returned to normal and all categories were well represented.

Young cattle dearer

The large majority of calves to restockers and processors ranged from 180¢ to 232¢ to average 205¢/kg. Young cattle generally sold to a firm market with the only adjustments made in price due to quality. Medium weight vealer steers sold from 190¢ to 230¢ to be unchanged in price on 215¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers ranged in price from 150¢ to 209¢ to average 186¢/kg. Light yearling steers to restockers sold 8¢ higher on 216¢, medium weights averaged 201¢ and the heavy weights to feeder orders were firm on 190¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to restockers sold 13¢ stronger on 193¢, medium weights to feeders were 6¢ higher on 172¢, while heavy weights lost 3¢ to settle on 162¢/kg.

Heavy grown steers sold 2¢ lower on 171¢, while a large sample of bullocks averaged around 172¢/kg. Heavy cows ranged in price from 126¢ to 155¢ to be firm on 141¢/kg. Heavy bulls were unchanged in price to average around 148¢/kg.

At the conclusion of Thursday’s markets the Queensland yearling steer indicator averaged 190.9¢, while yearling heifers settled on 186.3¢/kg lwt. The heavy steer indicator averaged 171.4¢, while bullocks were on 171.9¢/kg lwt. Medium cows and heavy cows settled on 129.2¢ and 136.9¢ lwt, respectively.

South Australia

Numbers slip

While the SA LE’s numbers increased, Naracoorte’s and Mt. Gambier’s yardings fell. The Millicent sale was cancelled this week due to a lack of numbers. Mt. Gambier’s 533 cattle would have been one of the smallest Wednesday yardings for quite some time with the weekly average this year well over 1,200 head.

Quality improved at the SA LE and sold to the usual local and interstate trade and export buyers in a fluctuating sale. Feeders were active at dearer levels on well-bred lightweight vealers and yearling steers and heifers. Limited numbers of vealer steers were yarded and sold at slightly dearer levels to a mixture of trade and feeder activity. Most vealer heifers sold to feeder inquiry at lower prices, while being dearer to the trade. The small numbers of grown steers, grown heifers and manufacturing steers were dearer, while cow prices remained reasonably stable.

There was an improvement in the quality at Naracoorte with a greater number of supplementary fed cattle yarded. However, state-wide the offering remained mixed and sold to fluctuating competition from a small number of regular trade and export buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were quite active over a wide range of weights and quality of young cattle and lightweight bulls. While some sales of young cattle were dearer, others including better quality cows tended to lose ground.

Mt. Gambier’s very mixed quality yarding of young cattle and grown steers in mainly 2 score condition, featured one bullock that topped the scale at 1,015kgs. While some categories attracted a dearer trend, others were generally cheaper due that varying quality.

Varying prices

There were fluctuations in prices paid this week due to the varied quality that greeted buyers.

Vealer steers on limited trade purchases were from 200¢ to 220¢ or 2¢ to 6¢/kg dearer. Feeders sourced C2 lightweight steers from 197¢ to 209¢ at prices unchanged to 3¢/kg more. Vealer heifers to mainly trade competition sold from 195¢ to 222¢, with C3 lightweights 14¢ dearer and medium weights 3¢/kg cheaper. Medium and heavy C3 yearling steers to the trade sold from 170¢ to 220¢ to be 5¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Feeders sourced large numbers of light to heavy C2 steers from 160¢ to 204¢, at prices unchanged to 12¢/kg more. Yearling heifer C3 sales in limited numbers were between 169¢ and 207¢ at prices 4¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steer B2, C2 and C3 mainly medium weight sales were from 165¢ to 192¢, as carcase weight prices averaged 335¢/kg. Cow prices remained unchanged as beef 3 to 5 scores sold from 122¢ to 143¢, with the 2 scores 100¢ to 132¢/kg. This tended to leave most selling between 240¢ and 280¢/kg cwt.


Quality suffers

Cattle throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported markets reduced 3 per cent to total 10,850 head. There were mixed yarding trends across selling centres. There were increased numbers at Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Warrnambool and Leongatha which grew by 20 per cent. The remainder recorded reductions, with Shepparton yarding 20 per cent fewer cattle and Wodonga having 20 per cent less.

Last year’s production of vealers is running dry, with very few pens of prime milk veal offered. Most vealers presented were on the heavier end as were many yearlings. Overall there were good numbers of young cattle available. Grown cattle, mostly grown steers and bullocks made up a large proportion of the yarding. Grown heifers were in small numbers at 375 head. The majority of the yarding comprised of cows, which were mostly of dairy breeds in varying condition and quality.

Overall the quality followed the pattern of last week, and reducing at many markets. Young cattle were reported to be mostly of plain and unfinished quality. On the whole trade cattle also suffered from reductions in quality.

Demand for all cattle grades was weaker despite the reduced supply. While most buyers were present and operating the reduced quality incited selective or reluctant bidding. Once again several exporters were missing from the sales which had a price lowering effect on bullocks. Vealer steers fell by 8¢/kg while heifers struggled to remain firm. Yearling steers fell 5¢, while heifers faced 6¢/kg reductions. Bullocks dropped just under 2¢ and cows tumbled 4¢/kg.

Cheaper cattle

The medium C2 vealer steers sold firm at 198¢, while the heavy B2’s sold 14c higher to 226¢/kg. Heavy C3’s were up 9¢ to make 210¢/kg. Medium C2 vealer heifers were firm at 189¢, while the heavies reduced by 7¢ to 189¢/kg. The medium C2 yearling steers to restockers improved 2¢ to 186¢, while the heavy C3’s gained 1¢ to sell for 196¢/kg. The medium D3 yearling heifers slipped 3¢ to 164¢/kg. The heavy C3’s reduced 2¢ to 182¢, while the D3’s fell 10¢ to 160¢/kg.

The heavy C3 grown steers gained 2¢ to make 189¢, while the C4 bullocks sold 1¢ cheaper for 184¢/kg. Light D3 grown heifers sold 1c dearer at 154¢/kg. The Heavy C4’s also gained 1¢ and sold for 156¢, while the D4’s were 8¢ cheaper at 150¢/kg. Light D2 manufacturing steers slipped 18¢ to 127¢, while the heavy C4’s dropped 1¢ to average 162¢/kg. Medium D1 dairy cows sold for 11¢ or around 3¢ cheaper. The D3 beef cows reduced 2¢ to 127¢/kg. Heavy D1 dairy cows reduced 1¢ to 115¢, while D4 beef cows fell 4¢ to 133¢/kg. The medium C2 bulls gained 7¢ to make 151¢, while the heavy C2’s reduced 8¢ to also make 150¢/kg.

West Australia

Pastoral numbers of the rise

As has been too much of the case in recent years it would seem that the southern Agricultural district of WA will have to endure another false break, with most areas having gone two weeks without any further moisture. To further negate the good start and solid germination, most forecasts indicate that there will be possibly be no rainfall until at least the end of next week. This will see much of the germination die and will also have a negative affect on crops and cropping programmes.

Conditions in the north remain ideal for mustering and this is now in full swing. Agents continue to comment that it is their belief that there will be large numbers of cattle seen in the south in the short term, for sales direct to works and into physical markets.

Cattle numbers in saleyards this week saw a slight increase with all three weekly markets recording higher numbers at their particular sales. Once again Muchea’s yarding was well and truly dominated by cattle sourced from the pastoral north with only limited supplies of locally bred cattle seen at this market.

As has been the case recently the volumes of heavy weight steers were all but non-existent. Heavy weight heifer supplies were fair, while trade weight yearling supplies were also limited in volume. Young store grades on the other hand had plentiful supply, but agents have commented that the majority of these local stores have now been sold and supply should tighten. Cow numbers remained plentiful at all three markets.

Cow market falters end of week

Vealer numbers remained scarce and continued to be limited to calf weights. Local trade demand, coupled with a solid restocker interest from local and southwest areas continues to buoy prices with little or no change realised in values. There were tight supplies of grain assisted yearling available this week. Demand was again recorded from both the local trade and feeder sectors and consequently there was little or no change in overall values of either heifers or steers. This was also the situation in grass finished yearlings. The very good supplies of young local store were of an improved quality and overall weight this week predominately due to an increase in the yarding in the Great Southern. Demand was generally stronger throughout the classes from both the feeder and restocker sectors with most grades recording dearer price levels than the previous week, particularly in heifer classes.

There continued to be good numbers of prime heavy weight local and pastoral cows available in physical markets, despite an increase in the volumes of lightweight, plain conditioned categories. Trade demand started the week at firm to slightly stronger levels, but this demand weakened as the week progressed with prime heavy weight cows lower by 10c/kg.

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