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


Steady supply

The overall supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS continues to hoverer around 20,000 head with only a small fluctuation of six per cent up or down from week to week. Numbers were slightly down in some centres while Dalby recorded an increase of 33 per cent.

Apart from a few good runs of heavy steers, bullocks and cows together with a few good yearlings the standard of the remainder was very mixed with the deteriorating conditions in a number of areas reflected in quality. A fair panel of buyers was present in the young cattle sections, and similar to the previous week due to some industrial problems export buyer activity was erratic. Butchers and wholesalers continued to be very active on suitable classes of vealer’s and yearlings and the short supply maintain a solid trend.

Medium weight yearling steers to feed sold to strong competition and in places a lift in the quality improved average prices. However there was a wide variation in the price of the remainder of the young cattle. Supply exceeded demand on light and medium weight yearling heifers and prices suffered reductions of 5¢ to 7¢/kg and considerably more on D muscle classes.

The supply of heavy steers to export slaughter remained close to the previous weeks level and values generally remained firm. Good heavy bullocks numbers improved and values struggled at times. Nevertheless a consignment of high yielding bullocks from the far west of the state managed to keep average prices close to firm. Plain cows sold to a firm market while the better heavy classes averaged 5¢/kg less.

Young cattle cheaper

Calves to the trade averaged 8¢ cheaper at 204¢ and sold to 226.2¢, while restocker lines lost 12¢ with most at 190¢/kg. A small selection of well presented vealer steers sold to local butchers at 232¢/kg. The largest numbers of vealer heifers to local and southern processors averaged 186¢, while a few top end quality lines to the local meat trade made to 224.2¢/kg. A large selection of lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers 3¢ cheaper at 214¢ with sales to 234.2¢/kg. A good supply of medium weight yearling steers to feed made to 230.2¢ with most at 213¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers mostly sold in the mid-to high 180¢ range and D muscle lines averaged 175¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 8¢ cheaper at 192¢ and sold to 198.6¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 185.2¢ to average 178¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 176¢ with a few from the far west making to 194.2¢/kg. A small selection over 750kg also made to 194.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 119¢,while a large number of 3 scores averaged close to 130¢/kg. Good heavy cows lost 5¢to average 142¢ a few sales to 156.6¢/kg.

New South Wales

Throughput declines along with quality Throughput across the state declined by 13 per cent at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. The majority of selling centres experienced reduced yardings with CTLX and Wagga both back by 30 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. Dubbo fell a further 10 per cent with grown cattle accounting for 54 per cent of the total yarding. Despite Gunnedah having a significant increase in throughput by 76 per cent and Inverell, Scone and Singleton remained relatively firm week-on-week.

The quality of cattle continues to be plain and unfinished throughout the state, however crop and supplementary fed cattle are readily available at the majority of saleyards. Wagga reported a mixed yarding of secondary lines while CTLX and Forbes had good lines of young cattle. Restocker and feedlot buyers continue to compete on light weight lines.

Contributors have left their prices unchanged for over the hooks as supply is still sufficient for demand. There are reports of an increase in direct to works cattle however not enough to warrant a drop in price. Quality is still the major issue with finding suitable cattle throughout the state although the better quality lines are attracting higher prices.

Yearlings were well sought after by restockers as competition saw a slight increase for the steer portion. Processors competed strongly source heavy weight steers, as prices reflected the increased completion finishing 5¢/kg stronger. Demand for cows was steady with prices remaining unchanged.

Prices mixed despite quality

The majority of heavier calves were secured by processors with prices ranging from 200¢ to 256¢/kg. The C2 medium vealer steers to restockers ranged from 180¢ to 230¢/kg. The heavy weight C3’s to slaughter topped at 236¢ to settle on 221¢/kg. Light D2 vealer heifers to restock topped at 202¢ to average 182¢ while medium C2’s to slaughter eased 6¢ on 200¢/kg. Restockers paid 211¢ for light weight C2’s, while feeders paid between 180¢ and 225¢/kg for the medium weights. Heavy C3’s to slaughter remained relatively firm on 205¢/kg. Yearling C2 heifers experienced less competition from restockers easing 6¢ to average 184¢ while medium weight C3’s to slaughter remained unchanged on 203¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers ranged from 156¢ to 208¢ while feeder buyers took the majority of the medium weights around 184¢/kg. The C3 medium weight grown heifers to slaughter strengthened by 2¢ to settle on 176¢ while heavy C4’s made 182¢/kg. Medium D2 beef cows remained relatively unchanged on 128¢ while the D3 heavy weights lifted slightly to finish on 144¢/kg.

South Australia

Quality improves

Cattle supply was significantly lower week-on-week with all the centres reported by MLA’s NLRS yarding fewer numbers. Mount Gambier experienced a 23 per cent reduction in supply week- on-week and supply was also back 32 per cent in comparison to the same week last year. Mt Gambier’s grown and young cattle supply was down with a limited selection for the almost full field of buyers. Naracoorte was back 30 per cent on last week and 43 per cent on the corresponding week last year. Grown cattle were in low supply at Naracoorte with far less cows available. SA LE had only a very small yarding back 41 per cent on last week with vealer cattle in very short supply.

Despite the limited selection of stock available there remained to be some high quality young cattle available at most markets. Mt Gambier had a very good selection of young cattle with the improvement recognised and prices adjusted upwards accordingly. Heavy C3 grown steers and heifers were showing good condition. There were plenty of C3, C4 and C5 cows available throughout the state and the majority fell into the heavy weight category. Bulls were also well conditioned with the majority of B2 medium weights.

Competition for lightweight cattle from feeder and restocker buyers was strong with the inclusion of one northern feeder buyer assisting prices at SA LE. All processor buyers were in attendance across the majority of saleyards and most were active on a wide range of weight ranges. The inclusion of on an additional export buyer at Naracoorte also lifted competition with all competing keenly.

Prices remain mixed Despite the distinct improvement in quality throughout the state prices were mixed with lower quality cattle placing downward pressure on rates. Medium vealer steers to feed came back 5¢ to 199¢ however sold to a top of 210¢/kg. Heavy weights to restock settled on 207¢ while the good quality C3 portion to the trade made 211¢/kg. Heavy C3 vealer heifers averaged slightly lower on 199¢ to sell at a top of 242¢/kg. Heavy C3 yearling steers to the trade dominated the states young cattle supply with prices to a top of 214¢ and most averaging 198¢/kg. Yearling heifers to restock mostly made 184¢ and the heavy weight portion to the trade made between 168¢ to 212¢ back 5¢/kg.

The heavy C3 portion of grown steers were in the greatest supply of all the grown cattle categories and prices improved 2¢ to settle on 191¢/kg. Heavy C3 bullocks made 194¢ to be 7¢/kg higher. Grown heifers were mostly higher due to lack of numbers available with the C3 portion 1¢ higher on 171¢/kg. Manufacturing D2 dairy steers were significantly higher based on quality to top at 163¢ and settle on 157¢/kg. Heavy C3 cows to process ranged from 150¢ to 166¢/kg. Medium weight bulls were 6¢ lower on 146¢/kg.


Numbers down, quality plain

There were eight per cent fewer cattle yarded across MLA’s NLRS reported Victorian markets. Most markets experienced a reduction in numbers, most notably Ballarat dropped back 30 per cent and Camperdown reduced by 22 per cent. Shepparton and Wodonga’s combined sale were each back around 16%. The only markets to record and increase was Colac which more than doubled and Leongatha which had 27 per cent greater numbers.

Overall there was a reduced supply of vealers, grown steers and heifers. The supply of yearlings remained similar as did that of cows. Regionally the northern district recorded a visible decrease in the number of vealer, grown steers and bullocks available. Towards the south west there was a decrease in the number of grass fed yearlings offered while in the east across Gippsland composition remained similar with many lighter weight restocking lines presented.

The quality of cattle remains lack lustre with the winter season nearing its end. General quality across the state was plain to average, however some good quality lines of cattle were still available. The Gippsland region presented some good quality vealers and supplementary fed yearlings. While the quality of grown steers and bullocks were overall better.

There was weaker buyer interest across most of the state this week with restockers being put off by the large number of secondary quality young cattle and some processors only operating on a limited basis. Many sales recorded a reduced buyer attendance, the exception being sales within the east which were attended by the regular group of buyers which provided good competition. Grown steers dearer amidst weak market

The medium weight C3 vealer steers sold 11¢ dearer to the trade at 232¢ while the heavy steers reduced 11¢ to 219¢/kg cwt. Heavy C2 vealer heifers gained 5¢ to 206¢ while the C3’s were down 8¢ to 214¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers sold to feeders for 8¢ lower for 199¢/kg. Feeders paid 1¢ less for heavy C2 steers at 196¢ while those to trade reduced equally to 203¢/kg. Light D2 yearling heifers to restockers gained 1¢, selling at 175¢/kg. Medium C2 heifers to feeders made 189¢, being 8¢ dearer while the trade portion sold for 203¢ or 6¢/kg higher. Heavy C3 heifers made 4¢ more at 193¢/kg.

Heavy grown C3 steers sold for 192¢, or 3¢/kg dearer. The C4 bullocks gained 3¢ to sell at 196¢/kg. The light C4 heifers made 180¢ while D3 drafts sold at 160¢/kg. The heavy C4 heifers climbed 5¢ to 177¢ and D3’s were also dearer 11¢ to 166¢/kg. Light D2 manufacturing steers sold 4¢ cheaper for 153¢ and heavy D2 dairy drafts reduced 5¢ to 156¢/kg. Light E1 dairy cows made 107¢, medium D1’s sold for 119¢/kg. The heavy D1 dairy cows fetched 127¢, the D2’s sold for 136¢ while D4’s made 151¢/kg. Medium B2 bulls returned 162¢ while heavy C2’s sold for 158¢/kg.

West Australia

Southern cattle numbers low

Conditions in the north of the state remain moderate with mustering activity still remaining at solid levels. Subsequently the supplies of cattle from the north to both southern saleyards and processing works have remained large.

Conditions in the south although improved from where they were the previous month remain in the balance for a great many areas. Having said this feed levels are on the rise and although most southern areas only recorded limited levels of rainfall over the past seven days forecasts have predicted further positive weather conditions from the early parts of next week.

The solid supplies of pastoral cattle currently being sourced from the north has helped processors with the supplies of prime local cattle remaining very low, as would be expected at this time of year. Saleyard supplies, outside of Muchea remained very low with both the Great Southern and southwest yardings very small.

Muchea’s live weight yarding was slightly larger due to improved supplies of pastoral grades and also included considerably larger numbers of pastoral calves that were sold in the appraisal sale. The numbers of locally bred heavy weight steers and heifers were all but non-existent. Trade weight yearling supplies were also very limited, while cow numbers continued to be reasonable.

Trade demand although variable throughout the classes remained reasonable. Feeder demand was once again fair, but selective in their purchases, while restocker interest, particularly in store pastoral grades, was reduced and more conservative this week with these grades recording considerably lower price levels.

Cow market eases marginally

Once again local vealer numbers were extremely low and confined to calf weights and these continued to enjoy a solid local trade, retail and restocker competition. Their pastoral counterparts on the other hand recorded a considerably weaker restocker interest and this saw most sales fall by as much as $50/head with this lower demand possibly indicative of the tight feed levels seen in the southwest this year. The tight supplies of prime trade weight yearling steers and heifers were predominately grain assisted. Demand remained firm but selective from the local trade demand week with little or no change realised in over prices.

Heavy weight export steers and bullocks were predominately sourced from pastoral areas. Better quality drafts of these enjoyed an increase in trade demand and recovered the losses of the previous week. Cow quality and weight were very mixed this week in both local and pastoral classes. Trade demand remained conservative throughout the class’s at all three markets. Overall prices remained similar, but very slightly lower than the previous week with prime heavy weight sales down 1c to 2c/kg lwt. Once again restocker demand in lighter and plainer conditions grades of cows remained limited.

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