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 27 July 2012
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Massive lift in numbers

Numbers lifted significantly at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS as the drier conditions allowed for stock to be transported from a wide area. Producers took advantage of the fine weather and numbers swelled close to three times the previous week’s level.

Overall quality of the young cattle was generally good, being boosted by a large consignment of 1,000 vendor bred yearling steers and 570 heifers at the Roma store sale. The standard of the heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter was generally good, while a mixed quality line-up of cows were penned. A large representation of buyers was present and operating in the young cattle sections, while at markets late in the week one export processor was absent from the buying panel.

Restockers provided strong support on well bred lightweight yearling steers and in places lifted values by 14¢/kg. However the sheer weight of numbers forced average prices to vary on lesser quality lines. Feeder categories of yearling steers and heifers generally remained firm. Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter could not maintain the improved prices of last week. Markets early in the week experienced a slightly cheaper trend, nevertheless as the week progressed and more numbers become available and average prices eased around 6¢ to 7¢/kg.

Plain cows received very strong demand from restockers and regardless of the increased supply prices remained very strong. However the better condition medium and heavy weight classes to slaughter averaged 2¢ to 6¢/kg less against the wet weather sales last week.

Export lines cheaper

Vealer steers returning to the paddock mostly sold around 4¢ dearer at 221¢ with sales to 239.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers sold to restockers at 205¢, while the largest numbers sold to slaughter in the 190¢ range with sales to 226.2¢/kg. A very large supply of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 15¢ dearer at 227¢ with a number of pens making to 241.2¢/kg. Medium weights to feed averaged 202¢ and made to 222.2¢ and heavyweights generally sold in the 190¢ range with a few pens of well bred lines to 209.2¢/kg. The large selection of lightweight yearling heifers mostly sold to slaughter 4¢ dearer at 199¢, while restocker classes made to 212.2¢ to average 201¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 4¢ easier at 184¢, while some to the wholesale meat trade made to 200¢/kg. Over 1,000 good heavy bullocks across all markets averaged 7¢ less at 180¢ with isolated sales to 193.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows to restockers averaged close to 135¢ with sales to 142.2¢, while those to processors averaged 125¢/kg. Medium weight 3 scores averaged close to 138¢, while a large selection of good heavy cows lost 6¢ to average 143¢ with sales to 162.2¢/kg.

Western Australia

Seasonal conditions tighten

Seasonal conditions in the north and east of the pastoral regions remain reasonable. Mustering activity has resulted in increased numbers of cattle available for both live export from the north and the trucking of cattle to the south with solid supplies of cows being forwarded direct to southern processing plants.

The southern Agricultural districts have endured yet another week of predominately dry weather with only limited rain recorded with many areas set to realise the driest July since records began. Rain was limited to south western areas below Perth, south coastal and south eastern areas, but generally falls failed yet again to be larger than 10mm. Even in the traditional cattle growing areas of the southwest, the lack of solid winter rainfall has many producers worried looking forward in regard to dam storage levels where run off has been to this stage very limited.

Accompanied by the dry conditions have been very cold days and nights where wide spread and heavy frost has been common. This has adversely affected feed and crop growth with overcast conditions having minimised sunshine levels.

Physical market numbers were larger due to a solid spike in Muchea’s cattle numbers, along with slightly higher numbers in the Great Southern. Muchea’s yarding included solid supplies of pastoral cattle as would be expected at this time of year, while local slaughter grades remained in relatively limited supply.

Cow market strong

Vealer supplies remained limited and restricted to lightweight categories. Demand for these remains solid from local trade, retailer and restocker sectors with quality remaining mixed. There was a reasonable supply of supplementary fed trade weight yearling steers and heifers in the physical market. Once again there was solid demand recorded from the feeder and processor sectors, which resulted in both steer and heifer classes remaining similar in price to the previous week. Young local store grades recorded a slight weakening in the both feeder and restocker competition with prices falling from the high recent levels.

Once again the majority of heavy weight export grades of steers and heifers were sourced from pastoral regions. Quality was more mixed across both sexes and this resulted in a weakening in both processor demand and values. There remained reasonable quality and weight in both local and pastoral drafts of cows. Processor demand started the week at higher levels but this did fall as the week progressed. This resulted in the overall weekly average for heavy weight prime drafts remain in line with last week.


Yardings increase

Yarding’s increased across markets reported by MLA’s NLRS with 9% greater numbers week on week. Only two sales, Pakenham and Leongatha, had lower supply back 9% respectively. Shepparton had the greatest increase amongst the state with close to 42% more cattle. Wodonga young and grown cattle yarding experienced a combined increase of 19%. All other centres had slightly more numbers week on week.

Vealer steers were in lower supply as the majority fell into the heavy weight category and were suitable for the trade. Heavy weight vealer heifers also dominated the yarding with the majority of the C3’s going to the trade. Most the yearling steers and heifers were secured by processors and were well conditioned C3’s. Feeders were not as active securing less than previous weeks.

Heavy weight grown steers were also in good numbers as were bullocks with the C3 and C4’s of good quality despite the wintery conditions. Cows dominated the states supply and most were D4 heavy weights.

The usual panel of buyers was present and competing with the exception of one major export buyer being absent from the sale at Wodonga. Despite the increase in supply, competition amongst buyers remained strong enough to push most prices higher this week.

The vealer steer indicator gained 6¢ to be 225¢ however vealer heifers met a weaker demand and dropped 4¢ to 212¢/kg. Yearling steers performed strongly with the indicator gaining 11¢ to 211¢, yearling heifers also increased by 4¢ to 195¢/kg. Bullock prices generally held firm while cows gained 12¢ to make 147¢/kg.

Prices lift

Medium weight vealer steers to process lifted 2¢ to 203¢ while heavy B2 muscle lines eased 5¢ to settle on 221¢/kg. Heavy C3 lines to process varied from 200¢ to 249¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers topped at 232¢ to settle on 202¢ while the heavy C3’s remained unchanged on 210¢/kg. Light yearling steers to restockers eased 2¢ to average 200¢ while medium weight C3’s to process lifted 11¢ to make 211¢/kg. The majority of yearling steers were heavy weights with C3’s to processors topping at 256¢ to make 210¢ while feeders paid an average of 180¢/kg. Medium C3 yearling heifers were stronger up 4¢ to average 195¢ while heavy weight C3’s lifted 7¢ to settle on 195¢/kg.

The majority of grown steers offered were heavy weights with C3’s averaging 195¢ and C4’s increasing 3¢ on 198¢/kg. Bullocks with C4 muscle scoring remained relatively firm on 194¢/kg. Grown heifers to processors eased 4¢ on 160¢ while heavy weight C4’s topped at 185¢ to average 177¢/kg. Medium D1 dairy cows ranged from 102¢ to 139¢ while D3 beef cows saw increased demand lifting 4¢ on 147¢/kg. Heavy D2 dairy cows remained relatively firm on 139¢ while heavy D4 beef cows lifted topped at 170¢ to make 156¢/kg.

South Australia

Larger Yardings

The improved prices paid last week drew a slightly larger yarding at the SA LE, with Naracoorte’s numbers rising over 1,200 head. Mt. Gambier’s numbers rose to just below 1,000 head.The SA LE’s mixed quality runs of mainly local and pastoral bred young cattle sold to fluctuating demand from the regular local and interstate buyers, with supplementary fed yearlings attracting the strongest demand. Feeder orders were active at generally lower levels. The few vealers yarded sold to very strong wholesale competition. Most C2 yearling steers and heifers sold to feeder activity. Heavy C3 yearling steers to processors sold at slightly lower levels, with the heifers basically unchanged. Cows in small lines sold below 119¢/kg.

Naracoorte’s quality tended to improve with some excellent quality supplementary fed yearlings attracting very strong competition. The cows sold at improved levels with all SA and Victorian trade and export buyers making purchases. Feeder and restocker orders were active on mainly young cattle and a few plain quality cows. Limited numbers of grown steers and grown heifers attracted improved prices. The cows sold to strong processor competition at up to 167¢/kg.

Mt. Gambier’s sale contained a mixed quality yarding of young cattle, improved quality runs of grown steers and a varying quality yarding of beef and dairy cows. These sold to strong SA and Victorian trade and export competition at dearer levels, with only isolated sales losing ground. Such was the strong competition that one pen of heavy bullocks sold at 198¢/kg and returned over $1,460/head. Beef and dairy cows remained unchanged with 169¢/kg the top price.

Most Categories Dearer

It has been a generally dearer sale week, with only isolated sales retreating. Vealer steers in limited numbers to the trade sold from 186¢ to 233¢ at prices averaging 15¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade also on small lines sold from 190¢ to 230¢, or 2¢ to 4¢/kg more. Yearling steers with many having been supplementary fed sold from 200¢ to 233¢ with the grass feds 175¢ to 205¢ at prices generally 5¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers purchased C1 and C2 steers between 160¢ and 206¢/kg at varying prices. Yearling heifer C3 medium and heavyweights sold from 154¢ to 210¢, or unchanged to 11¢/kg cheaper with the medium weights most affected.

Grown steers C2, C3 and B2 medium and heavyweights to strong competition sold generally from 173¢ to 215¢ to be unchanged to 13¢/kg dearer, and mainly 325¢ to 370¢/kg cwt. Grown heifers to solid demand sold from 145¢ to 192¢ to be 7¢ to 13¢/kg dearer. The 3 to 5 score beef cows sold mostly from 115¢ to 169¢ to be 2¢ to 13¢/kg dearer, and generally 280¢ to 330¢/kg cwt. Heavy 1 to 3 score Friesian cows sold between 110¢ and 148¢/kg, or 250¢ to 308¢/kg cwt.

New South Wales

Throughput increases while quality remains plain

Throughput increased by 27% as reported at markets by MLA’s NLRS compared to last week with the majority of saleyards recording increases. The largest increase was recorded in Tamworth, with more than double the amount of cattle yarded. Forbes saleyards consisted predominately of young cattle with an increased total throughput of 74%, while Gunnedah lifted 66% on last week. CTLX was the only saleyard to record a decline in throughput back 14% with significantly less grown steers available.

The quality of cattle continues to be mixed approaching the back end of winter however yardings still continue to include predominately unfinished cattle. Supplementary cattle are becoming more wide spread as producers look to take advantage of the high prices. The regular buyers were present and operating at most saleyards although some export buyers were absent at both Scone and Gunnedah.

Processors this week left their rates unchanged as supply is beginning to tighten. Domestic demand is still weak prompting some contributors to look at potential maintenance breaks as good quality cattle are becoming harder to source.

At the close of Thursday’s market the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) strengthened by 4.25¢ compared to last week to settle on 387¢/kg cwt. Despite the increased throughput the majority of the NSW indicators increased. The largest increase was seen by vealer steers lifting 9¢ on 229¢, while yearling heifers weren’t far behind increasing 8¢ to settle on 203¢/kg. Yearling steers made 214¢ up 6¢ while the cow indicator lifted 2¢ to make 139¢/kg.

Prices lift slightly

The general price trend was higher this week across most saleyards however prices did vary due to quality factors. The limited D2 calves to restockers ranged from 197¢ to 241¢ to average 211¢/kg. Medium vealer steers to restockers lifted 3¢ on 220¢ while processors purchased C2 lines form 212¢/kg. Light C2 vealer heifers averaged 210¢ with the medium weights jumping 5¢ on 208¢/kg. Heavy weights to feeders averaged 208¢/kg. Light yearling steers saw increased demand strengthening by 7¢ to make 216¢/kg. Medium weight C2’s to feeders topped at 225¢ to settle on 209¢ with heavy weights averaging 204¢ up 2¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feed topped at 208¢ to make 192¢ while the medium weights experienced a decline back 6¢ on 192¢/kg.

Medium grown C2 steers to feed remained relatively firm on 194¢ while heavy weights to process eased 2¢ on 191¢/kg. Light grown C3 heifers were firm on 178¢ with heavy C4’s ranging from 164¢ to 189¢/kg. Medium D2 cows to processors topped at 152¢ to average 134¢ while the D3’s averaged 137¢/kg. Heavy weight dairy cows ranged from 90¢ to 120¢ while D3 heavy beef cows lifted 7¢ to settle on 148¢/kg.

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