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 8 June 2012
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

West Australia

Rainfalls across the state

There was some wide spread rainfall recorded in areas of the Pilbarra this week with reasonable falls of rain recorded, up to 15mm. Another cold front further to the south also brought wide spread and much needed moisture levels to the southern Agricultural districts of WA. For areas in the southwest and southern Great Southern this was a welcome follow up to the solid falls these areas recorded late last week. The largest falls remained confined to coastal areas but even eastern and northern wheatbelt areas saw rainfall of up to 20mm.

Forecasters have predicted that there is a reasonable chance of follow-up rainfall during the first four days of next. The increased moisture levels will hopefully alleviated dwindling green pastures which have suffered during most of May, with many producers still having to supplementary feed their cattle, particularly cows with calves at foot. The more mild weather in the north of the state continues to encourage mustering activity.

The good seasons recently in the north have seen an increase in weight in much of the herd and consequently many of these cattle are being sent into southern markets. Cattle numbers remained moderate in saleyards this week, despite the cancellation of the southwest’s sale due to the long weekend holiday on Monday. Northern pastoral cattle continued to dominate Muchea’s yarding, while the supplies of local, trade and heavy weight steer and heifer numbers remained tight at both markets with cow numbers remaining solid.

Trade demand remains buoyant

Vealer numbers remained very limited from both local and pastoral regions. Most remained of calf weights and continued to record a solid demand from both the local, retail and restocker sectors with little or no change seen in price levels. There were only very limited supplies of either grass fed or grain assisted trade weight yearlings available this week.

Trade demand remained very buoyant from local operators of both with a solid under pinning also seen from the feeder sector with prices fully firm to slightly dearer comparative to the previous week. There continued to be a reasonable supply of local store yearlings available in physical markets. Feeder demand on both medium and heavy weight steer and heifer classes remained strong with prices equal to the previous week. Lightweight steers and heifers also enjoyed a solid restocker demand.

The very small numbers of heavy weight steers and bullocks were predominately sourced from pastoral regions and these received a slightly stronger demand from processors with price levels slightly higher. There continued to be a reasonable quality and weight in both pastoral and local cows. Trade demand for both classes remained buoyant with prices firm to marginally dearer than the previous week.


A further decline in numbers

The unseasonal wet start to winter reduced numbers at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS by a further 30% following the 55% reduction in supply the previous week. Rain has disrupted supply for two consecutive weeks, however the latest rain event cancelled the Roma store sale plus various other selling centres in the central and western areas.

Young cattle continued to dominate at most selling centres comprising more than half of total cattle penned. The good falls of rain renewed restocker interest and calves and vealer steers improved in value by 4¢ to 11¢/kg. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors plus butchers shared in the rising trend to average 5¢ to 8¢/kg dearer. A short supply of medium weight yearling steers to feed gained 5¢ and heavyweights continued to be in demand and averaged 4¢/kg better.

Heavy steers and bullocks at markets early in the week experienced very little change in price. However by mid and late week markets the cancellation of a number of consignments direct to works export buyers displayed more demand and average prices lifted by around 4¢/kg. Cows experienced a similar trend, battling to remain firm early in the week. As the week progressed they managed to regain the losses of the previous week to average 5¢ to 8¢/kg dearer.

The widespread rain across the state has also resulted in large areas to be sown to winter cereal crops plus provide some good moisture for the crops already planted. Grain prices locally have seen some firming as white grain supplies seem to have diminished with most supply coming from south of the border.

Most classes dearer

The reduced flow of supply into the markets helped push most classes higher.

Calves returning to the paddock averaged 216¢ and made to 235.2¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers were purchased by restockers 4¢ dearer at 220¢ with sales to 242.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to feed averaged 5¢ dearer at 198¢ and slaughter classes averaged 8¢ better at 196¢ with some to local butchers at 234.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers returning to the paddock made to a top of 230.2¢ with most around 207¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged from 197¢ to 201¢ with sales to 210¢/kg. Heavy feeders mostly sold around 194¢ with the occasional pen to 204.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 188¢ and local trade descriptions averaged 200¢ with some supplementary fed lines to 229.2¢/kg.

A fair sample of medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 181¢ and sold to 188.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter improved 4¢ to average 179¢ and sold to 185.2¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 4¢ dearer at 177¢ and sold to 184.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 117¢ and 3 scores 133¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 160¢ to lift in price by 7¢ to average 145¢/kg.


Numbers greater despite rain

Throughput across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards decreased despite the onset of heavy rain throughout the Gippsland regions. Supply at Leongatha and Bairnsdale contracted 11% and 61% respectively with the significantly lower yarding at Bairnsdale, a result of flooding across the supply region. Pakenham’s combined yarding increased 42% primarily due to a larger number of young cattle with producers keen to ahead of a state wide public holiday on Monday. Wodonga also experienced greater supply up 23% week-on-week with both young cattle and grown cattle supply increasing. Ballarat and Camperdown recorded an increase with numbers 16% higher at Camperdown and supply almost doubling at Ballarat albeit off a low base. Colac experienced a reduction in supply of 28%. Warrnambool was back by a further 11% and throughput fell slightly at Shepparton reducing 6% week-on- week.

Many markets reported an increase in plain quality cattle with some now showing the effects of the cold wintery conditions. Quality of Pakenham however increased with the majority of categories well represented. Ballarat yarded a good selection of yearlings and demand increased for buyers at Colac with a good line of vealers offered. All the regular buyers were present and active across the majority of centres however processor buyers struggled to secure suitable lines of trade cattle. Feeders were active on the young plainer yearlings and restockers took the opportunity to secure some of the light well-bred vealer steers.

Grown cattle perform well

Processors paid 15¢ less for medium vealer steers at 189¢ and 4¢ less for the heavies which made 204¢/kg. Medium vealer heifers were down 10¢ to make 193¢ while the heavy weights 10¢ cheaper at 196¢/kg. Medium yearling steers gained 2¢ to sell at 199¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feeders climbed 3¢ to sell at 194¢ while processors paid 193¢/kg. Medium yearling heifers to feeders sold for 182¢ while those to slaughter climbed 9¢ to make 192¢/kg.

Medium grown steer dropped 5¢ to sell at 186¢/kg. The heavy steers were unchanged at 184¢/kg. Light grown heifers slipped 2¢ to 162¢ while the heavy weights were 5¢ cheaper at 153¢/kg. Light manufacturing steers were up 5¢ to 139¢ and the heavy weights also gained 4¢ to finish at 162¢/kg. Light dairy cows were 1¢ dearer at 97¢ while the medium beef cows were down 2¢ to 130¢/kg. The heavy dairy cows sold 2¢ higher at 129¢ while the heavy beef breeds gained 3¢ to make 141¢/kg. Medium beef bulls climbed 16¢ to 154¢/kg and the heavy bulls rose 6¢ to 162¢ while the dairy breed bulls gained 20¢ to return 155¢/kg.

South Australia

Cattle Numbers and Quality Slip

Cold, wet weather over the past fortnight has taken a toll on cattle quality, with smaller mixed quality yardings. The usual SA and Victorian trade and export buyers have been present and active, albeit with some only sourcing limited numbers. Low feeder and restocker demand led to prices falling to cheaper levels.

The SALE’s poorer quality yarding sold erratically due to a large percentage of the yarding failing to meet buyer’s requirements. Lightweight vealer steers were sourced by feeders, with the trade purchasing limited numbers of steers and heifers. Yearling steers to the trade sold at improved prices, while the heifer portion fluctuated. The D3 portinn of beef cows were dearer, while the plain quality D1 sales were cheaper.

Naracoorte’s smaller yarding featured mixed quality runs of young cattle that sold at lower prices in the first three runs, before supplementary fed yearlings kick-started solid bidding in the last run. The dearer trends flowed onto the cow yarding that sold to strong Naracoorte and Victorian processor demand, with 2 score beef cows at the higher end of the higher prices. A Warrnambool processor was also sourcing plain quality 1 and 2 score cows. Feeder and restocker orders were also active at lower prices.

Mt. Gambier’s small yarding featured mainly 1 and 2 score young cattle that sold at fluctuating prices, while a generally good quality yarding of cows attracted strong demand at dearer levels.

Millicent’s small mixed quality yarding for the first sale in a month sold to limited trade and export competition, with feeder and restocker orders very active.

Fluctuating Demand

Prime young cattle and most beef cows sold at dearer levels while other categories attracted fluctuating demand due to the varying quality available.

Vealer steers in limited numbers to the trade sold from 200¢ to 222¢ to be 7¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced the majority from 185¢ to 205¢/kg at unchanged levels. Vealer heifers in small lines to the trade sold from 165¢ to 233¢/kg. Yearling steer B2 and C3 sales ranged between 174¢ and 220¢ to be 4¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers purchased C1 and C2 steers from 152¢ to 200¢ at prices 4¢ to 14¢/kg less. Limited numbers of C3 yearling heifers sold between 167¢ and 207¢, with the medium weights 2¢ dearer and the heavy heifers 7¢/kg cheaper.

Grown steer C2 and C3 sales of mainly medium weights sold from 165¢ to 190¢ to be unchanged to 3¢ cheaper, and were averaging 330¢/kg cwt. Beef 2 to 5 score cows attracted strong demand from 116¢ to 145¢ to be 3¢ to 13¢ dearer with the 2 scores faring best, and most selling in a 240¢ to 285¢/kg cwt price range.

New South Wales

Supply slips

Yarding across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards decreased with total numbers back 29%. The largest contributor to the decline was Gunnedah with a 71% decrease in supply. Dubbo was back 63% with a total yarding of 1,380 head, while Scone only drew a total of 881 head, being back 53%. Young cattle accounted for 68% of total throughput comprising of predominately vealer steers and yearling steers. Cows made up 60% of the grown cattle portion. The dearer trend was evident across all markets as feeders and restockers competed for limited supplies of well finished cattle.

The quality offered across all buying centres was mixed with the majority of young cattle showing the effects of the cooler temperatures. Wagga had a reasonable selection of prime cattle, with varied quality among grown steers and bullocks. CTLX had a larger yarding of younger cattle with quality mixed across most grades. Gunnedah although low on numbers produced some well finished cattle.

At the conclusion of Thursday’s markets it was clear the limited supply was placing upward pressure on prices as restockers and feeders competed amid the lowered supply. The majority of young cattle on offer went to restockers however feeders were also in action. The Easter Young Cattle Indicator finished Thursday’s market up 5.50¢ to settle on 370.75¢/kg cwt with increased competition assisting the rise. The NSW vealer steer indicator lost 4¢ on 206¢ while yearling steers averaged 199¢ up 1¢/kg on last week. Heavy steers lost 6¢on 186¢while cows gained 5¢ to settle on 131¢/kg.

Prices increase

Light vealer steers topped at 256¢ averaged 216¢/kg. Medium C2 vealer steers followed the same trend up 5¢ settling on 209¢, while the heavy portion ranged from 190¢ to 213¢/kg. Medium C2 vealer heifers varied from 170¢ to 215¢ with a gain of 9¢, while medium C3’s to feeders averaged 197¢ to top 225¢/kg. Light yearling steers remained firm on 202¢. A larger number of medium yearling steers were on offer as price increased 6¢ to average 198¢/kg due to increased buyer competition. Heavy yearling steers supported the dearer trend up 3¢ to average 192¢, while light yearling heifers gained 7¢/kg on the back of restocker competition. Medium C2 yearling heifers sold to feeders ranging from 167¢ to 196¢ with heavy yearling heifers gaining 3¢ to average 181¢/kg.

Medium C2 grown steers to feeders topped at 196¢ averaging 183¢, while the heavy portion gained 2¢ to average 184¢/kg. The majority of grown heifers offered were in the light C3 category and increased 3¢ to average 170¢/kg. Medium D2 cows to restockers averaged 123¢ while the heavy D4 score portion averaged 137¢ to top at 155¢/kg.

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