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 17 August 2012
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

South Australia

Improved Prices, Larger Yardings

With the improved prices paid last week the SA LE had a slightly larger mixed quality yarding that sold to solid competition from the usual trade and export buyers, with feeder orders active on mainly well bred lightweight yearling steers. Naracoorte’s numbers increased on mixed quality runs that did feature excellent quality supplementary fed yearlings and good quality beef cows. Mt. Gambier’s larger very mixed quality yarding sold to fluctuating competition due to that varying quality. Millicent agents put together a larger yarding of mainly young cattle and cows for their fortnightly sale. Most of the usual SA and Victorian trade and export buyers were operating in the South East, with a supermarket chain making visit after a very long break to source some of those supplementary fed yearlings at Naracoorte.

The SA LE’s yarding featured mainly young cattle, with export type cattle in limited numbers. The few vealers penned sold to strong wholesale demand, light yearling steers to mainly feeder orders. The medium and heavyweight yearling steers to the trade were cheaper. However, the yearling heifer C3 sales were generally dearer. Most cows sold at lower levels with 140¢/kg the top price.

South East yardings featured local and pastoral bred cattle that met with erratic price trends provided by the operating buyers, with some sales dearer and others slightly cheaper. Feeder and restocker orders were also active at generally dearer levels on mainly vealer and yearling steers and some heifers. The supermarket order was enlightening after missing for many months, and certainly assisted prices for the supplementary feds.

Fluctuating Trends

It has been a week of fluctuating trends caused mainly by the varying quality available.

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 188¢ to 230¢, with feeder and restocker purchases of mainly lightweight steers between 190¢ to 230¢/kg. This tended to leave some sales 4¢ to 6¢ cheaper and others 6¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers to the trade sold from 188¢ to 234¢, with isolated sales of lightweights at 248¢ and 254¢, and varying from 3¢ cheaper and 10¢ to 23¢/kg dearer. Yearling steers C3 and B2 sales featuring many supplementary feds sold from 190¢ to 231¢, to be unchanged to 6¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers sourced C1 and C2 medium and heavyweights steers between 158¢ and 214¢/kg at generally dearer levels. Yearling heifers C3 sales on larger numbers were from 160¢ to 222¢, or unchanged to 14¢/kg dearer.

Grown C3 medium and heavyweights steers were 8¢ to 11¢ cheaper selling between 155¢ and 202¢, and were averaging around 340¢/kg cwt. Increased numbers of grown heifers sold from 158¢ to 188¢ at prices 2¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Medium and heavy 2 to 5 score beef cows were 1¢ to 8¢ cheaper selling from 115¢ to 162¢, or 265¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

New South Wales

Yearling quality suffers

Yardings across the MLA’s NLRS reported markets increased 16% on last week. All markets recorded a moderate increase except for Scone which was back 15%. The markets that recorded the greatest increases were Forbes, Casino and CTLX which grew between 30% and 40%. There were very few calves penned while vealer steers and heifers were in fair numbers. There was a strong supply of yearling cattle, however the quality of these was very mixed. More crop and supplementary fed lots were available, however these were of a lower quality than in previous weeks. Grown steers and bullocks were in tighter supply at most markets and varied in quality from plain to good. Most classes of cows were represented in a sturdy yarding, with quality similar to recent weeks.

Interest on young cattle within NSW mirrored that of the eastern states as the EYCI slid to 381.25¢/kg cwt at the conclusion of Thursday’s markets. There was little interest from processors on the poorer quality selection of young cattle while restockers could not compensate for the reduced competition. Vealers were able to sell to solid demand with both steers and heifers selling to improved prices. Yearling steers sold to a cheaper market and the heifer portion sold to a similar trend.

There was strong interest from exporters for suitable cattle with medium and heavy weight grown steers lifting up to 8¢/kg. Bullocks too were firm to dearer. There was a steady demand for cows however the increased did impact on prices with a cheaper trend evident.

Yearlings cheaper

Restockers secured most of the light vealer steers offered and were active on the medium weights paying mostly paying from 218¢ to 223¢/kg. Large numbers of medium weight vealer heifers to the trade sold close to firm at 206¢ as those to restockers averaged 204¢/kg. Restockers and feeders purchased a large percentage of the yearling steers with the medium and heavy weights to slaughter ranging from 201¢ to 215¢/kg. Lightweights to restockers averaged 218¢ with feeders paying closer to 212¢/kg. A large number of medium weights to feeders eased 3¢ with most closer to 206¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to the trade averaged 203¢ with the heavy weights making closer to 186¢, as the medium weights to feeders lost 10¢ to average 184¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders slipped 4¢ to 184¢ as the few to processors improved slightly to average 184¢/kg. Heavy C3 grown steers lost 5¢ to 188¢ as the few C4s improved 8¢ to 181¢/kg. Most of the bullocks ranged from 187¢ to 194¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows held firm at 127¢, as the D3s averaged 137¢/kg. The heavy D3 and D4 cows were slightly cheaper with most sales from 142¢ to 145¢ with sales to 160.2¢/kg.


A small fall in supply

The supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell 6%. Numbers varied from centre to centre with the cooler weather at Mareeba considerably lifting numbers and supply at Warwick improved 60%, however yardings at Roma declined after the recent run of large sales. A mixed quality offering of heavy steers and bullocks were penned at Dalby with more 3 scores included in the line-up. The overall standard of the cows was generally good with the largest numbers in the 3 and 4 score range.

Buyer attendance in the young cattle section was generally good however in places restockers were not as plentiful as previous weeks. The presence of export buyers in the market was erratic, sales early in the week experienced a return to a full panel of buyers, while not all the export buyers were present at markets late in the week.

Values for young cattle tended to struggle at times, as seasonal conditions deteriorate restockers are becoming more selective, and calves returning to the paddock averaged 12¢/kg less. Feeder descriptions also tended to struggle at times however well bred lines still commanded strong demand. Butchers provided very strong competition on suitable vealers and yearlings and similar to the previous week demand exceeded supply.

Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter varied from firm to 3¢/kg cheaper. The better end of the cows at markets early in the week improved in value and remained firm to 3¢/kg dearer as the week progressed, while 2 scores averaged 5¢/kg less.

Some export categories cheaper

A fair supply of calves returned to the paddock 12¢ cheaper at 212¢ with sales to 232.2¢/kg. A very short supply of C3 vealer steers received strong support from butchers and made to 246.2¢ to average 234¢/kg. A hand full of well presented vealer heifers also received similar demand from butchers and made to 241.2¢, with the largest numbers of plain classes at 184¢/kg. A large sample of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 217¢ with some to 246.2¢/kg. Medium weights to feed averaged from the high 190¢/kg range to 207¢/kg. Heavy feeders mostly sold around 193¢ with the occasional pen to 213.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers and feed averaged in the mid-190¢/kg with some to 210¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter remained firm at 178¢ with sales to 187.6¢/kg. Most of the 3 score bullocks averaged 5¢ less at 164¢, while the better 4 scores averaged 3¢ cheaper at 175¢ with the one pen to 188¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 5¢ cheaper at 117¢, and 3 scores were close to 130¢/kg. Good heavy cows averaged 3¢ better at 147¢ with some to 164.2¢/kg.


Grown cattle dominate

The majority of markets offered slightly reduced yardings which resulted in total throughput slipping 8%. The only centres that were able to increased numbers were Ballarat, Camperdown and Wodonga. When compared to the corresponding time last year supply this week was up 24%.

Young cattle accounted for only a third of the states total yarding. Around 80% of the young cattle were yearlings. Despite the time of the year, restockers were active on the vealer steers purchasing the majority, as the trade secured most of the heifers. The yearling steers and heifers were mainly heavy weights purchased for slaughter under solid demand. The dominating grown cattle were generally cows while grown steers were also in fair numbers. Most of the cows were heavy weights with fair numbers being dairy breeds.

Quality has continued to be mixed, which is typical for late winter and the varied season that is across most of the state. The supplementary fed lines met the strongest enquiry from processors as restockers and feeders were most animated on the well bred lines.

The varied quality has impacted on prices with the large fluctuations occurring. The vealers steers to the trade were 2¢ to 4¢ either side of last week as some of the medium weight vealer heifers lost up to 10¢/kg. The yearling steers were generally firm to dearer, while some restocker purchases and the lightweights to all sectors were cheaper. Heavy grown steers eased up to 3¢, as the C4 bullocks were 2¢/kg dearer. Dairy cows across all weights were up to 6¢ cheaper as the beef cows were firm to slightly cheaper.

Mixed prices

Heavy B muscled vealer steers sold to 263.2¢ with most from 234¢ to 247¢/kg. The heavy C muscle lines averaged 230¢/kg. The medium and heavy C muscle vealer heifers made from 201¢ to 223¢, as the D muscle lines sold closer to 186¢/kg. The large numbers of heavy yearling steers to slaughter averaged 205¢ to be 2¢/kg dearer. Medium weight C3 yearling heifers held firm at 197¢ as the heavy weights averaged 190¢/kg.

Heavy C3 grown steers eased 3¢ to 189¢ as the C4s sold to 210¢ to average 198¢/kg. Bullocks mostly made around 193¢/kg.

Plain light dairy cows sold around 105¢ as the D 1 and 2 medium weights mostly ranged from 121¢ to 126¢/kg. Heavy dairy cows made to 156¢ with a large number making from 124¢ to 144¢/kg. Medium weight D3 beef cows held firm at 143¢ as most of the heavy weights ranged from 147¢ to 151¢/kg. The few potentially high yielding C muscle cows made in the 150¢ to 160¢/kg range. Across all cows they averaged 288¢/kg cwt. Most of the heavy bulls made around 161¢ after topping at 177¢/kg.

Western Australia

Local cattle supplies remain tight

Seasonal conditions remain in the balance at this stage of the year in many parts of southern WA. There was once again some wide spread rainfall seen in the southern Agricultural districts early in the week with the largest falls remaining close to the coast. Having said this however there was some reasonable falls recorded in eastern wheatbelt areas. Seasonal conditions remain below average for this time of year in most areas due to very cold and dry conditions which have hampered both feed and crop growth. Producers are hopeful that there will be a solid and at least average rainfall recorded throughout spring in order to try and recover what have been tough conditions thus far. Conditions in the majority of the northern and eastern pastoral regions remain moderate wit mustering activity still very strong.

There continues to be a solid flow of cattle from the north to the south to both saleyards and direct to processing works. Numbers were again predominately low in physical markets with both the Great Southern and southwest fixtures having very limited supplies. This saw Muchea remain the largest yarding by far for the week. This was due to solid supplies of pastoral cattle.

Local drafts of trade, store and export categories of cattle were very low this week. Quality at all three markets was generally plainer this week and very mixed with prime trade cattle volumes of all descriptions hard to find and this did have an affect on the market throughout the classes.

Mixed quality hits demand

There continued to be limited supplies of vealers outside of lightweight calf drafts with the majority of these sourced from pastoral regions as local drafts remained in limited numbers. Demand for locally bred calves remained solid from the local trade and restocker sectors, while plain quality pastoral heifers remained discounted to southern restockers. There were very limited numbers of either grass or grain assisted cattle.

Once again competition was recorded from both the local trade and feeder sectors with little or no change realised, due to both the limited numbers and mixed quality. This was also the case in the store market with quality and weight in all three yardings spread over a wide range. Demand from restockers and feeders also remained at similar levels with limited or little change recorded in prices.

The majority of heavy weight export steers and bullocks were sourced from pastoral regions with a drop in quality recorded with these resulting in weaker and demand and prices. Heavy weight mature heifer sales fell in value under a lower processor demand. The cow market started the week at slightly dearer levels but this waned as the week progressed with overall values barely equal to last week.

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