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

New South Wales

Yardings reduce further

Total saleyard throughput declined 12 per cent week-on-week as reported at markets by MLA’s NLRS. The decline was felt across the majority of saleyards, however Dubbo’s throughput lifted by 14 per cent. Gunnedah experienced the largest decline back 36 per cent as cattle supply from the west reduced. Wagga’s yarding eased by 23 per cent due to wet weather and transport issues along with reductions at Forbes and Casino. The remaining saleyards were steady on last week’s levels.

The decline in numbers together with pockets of supplementary and crop fed lines scattered throughout markets assisted in strong saleyard prices. Quality was the main price driver across all categories as the plainer lines were still attracting lower prices. Gunnedah had a good representation of grown steers while Dubbo saw increased completion for a larger penning of cows. Wagga’s reduced yarding attracted increased completion with prices generally firm to slightly dearer especially for export cattle. Forbes was rather mixed across all categories with plainer lines more suitable for feeder buyers being abundant. The usual buyers we active across all markets and keen to secure cattle amongst the reduced supply.

Vealer steers to restockers generally sold to a dearer trend with limited interest from feeder buyers. The majority of vealer heifers were sold to slaughter at slightly cheaper prices while restockers purchased the bulk of the light weight lines. Restockers were very active on yearling steers across all weight categories while heifers were predominately sold to processors. Grown steers were slightly dearer throughout the heavy weights while heifers were slightly easier. Medium and heavy weight cows generally sold firm to slightly dearer.

Prices remain firm

The majority of calves sold to restockers topping at 334¢ to average 230¢/kg. Light D2 vealer steers returning to the paddock lifted 7¢ on 218¢ while the medium weight C2’s ranged in price from 190¢ to 258¢/kg. Vealer C2 heifers to slaughter topped at 220¢ to average around 199¢ while heavy C3’s were cheaper settling on 212¢/kg. Light C2 yearling steers to restock lifted slightly on 213¢ while the medium weights sold from 162¢ to 218¢/kg. Competition between feeder buyers for medium weight C3’s eased as prices averaged 6¢ easier on 218¢ while the majority of C3 heavy weight lines sold to slaughter from 182¢ to 232¢/kg. Light yearling C2 heifers to restock topped at 202¢ to make 187¢ while medium and heavy weight C3’s to processors strengthened averaging 206¢ and 194¢/kg respectively.

Light C2 grown steers to feedlot buyers were back 4¢ to average 184¢ while heavy C3 lines to process varied from 160¢ to 216¢ to settle on 199¢/kg. Bullocks experienced considerable interest from process buyers with the bulk selling around 197¢ up 9¢/kg. The majority of Light D2 heifers were firm on 136¢ with medium D3 cows remaining firm on 137¢ while the heavy portion settled on 144¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers fall

Numbers increased by 50 per cent on last week at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS as producers offload more stock due to drying conditions. SA LE and Naracoorte’s total yardings more than doubled while Mount Gambier recorded a 38 per cent increase.

SA LE had a better quality yarding with the usual processor and trade buyers active on young cattle, while feeder buyers competed strongly for lightweight steers and heifers. The majority of yearling steers were sold to feeders while the top price paid by processors was 240¢/kg for medium weight C3’s. Processors competed strongly for yearling heifers with prices generally dearer across all weight categories. Light weight D1 cows remained steady while the heavy weights were firm to slightly dearer.

Naracoorte yarded some good quality supplementary fed yearlings with young cattle dominating throughput. Quality remains mixed with the usual buyers in attendance and operating. Prices across the categories were stronger even though one export buyer was not in attendance. Feeder and restocker buyers purchased the majority of yearling steers while the B muscle lines attracted higher prices from processors. The heifer portion experienced similar interest with processors paying up to 237¢/kg for C3’s. The grown steers and heifers both sold stronger while the better quality cows were a little easier.

Mt Gambier yarded mainly grown cattle however the better quality lines were limited in numbers. The usual buyers operated with price variations apparent due to variable quality. Yearlings sold relatively firm on last week’s levels while grown steers were cheaper due again based on quality. Cows were back around 8¢ to 12¢/kg.

Prices mixed

Mixed yardings across the state along with absent buyers have resulted in varied price trends across the categories. The majority of vealer steers sold to processors remained relatively unchanged on 212¢, while the heifer portion strengthened ranging from 195¢ to 247¢/kg. Medium yearling C2 steers to feed topped at 208¢ to average 195¢ while processors competed strongly for the heavy weight C3’s averaging 208¢ up 10¢/kg. Feeder buyers paid on average 197¢ for light C1 yearling heifers, while C2’s to restock remained firm on last week’s levels to average184¢/kg. The medium and heavy weight C3’s to slaughter varied in price from 170¢ to 237¢/kg.

Heavy C3 grown steers lifted 5¢ on 169¢ while C3 Bullocks eased 2¢ to settle on 192¢/kg. The C4 bullocks lost ground to finish on 198¢/kg on average. Heavy C3 heifers mostly sold to a dearer trend averaging 173¢ while medium weight D2 beef cows were stronger with a top price of 144¢ to make 131¢/kg. The better quality C3 cows eased 4¢ to make 158¢ while the heavy D2 portion remained relatively firm on 138¢/kg.


Fewer numbers

Despite the deterioration in seasonal conditions across a wide area of the state overall supply at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS fell by close to 20%. Numbers declined significantly by 37% at the Roma store sale as producers wait to see how weather conditions will be for the spring growing season.

There were noticeably less restocker buyers at most markets and more are becoming selective in their purchases. Feeder buyers are also becoming more conservative on purchasing light and medium weights.

The large numbers of lightweight yearling heifers flowing into the market are receiving subdued demand with the largest numbers going to southern processors. However heavy weight feeders went against the downward trend to average 4¢/kg dearer. The dwindling supply of well presented vealer’s and yearlings ideally suited to the local butcher trade continued to receive strong demand.

Export processor buyer attendance was very good at all markets and included some southern operators, and all were keen to make purchases. Southern buyers were also a strong influence at markets as far north as Longreach. A shortage of suitable export slaughter cattle in southern states lifted prices of heavy steers and bullocks by 7¢ to 10¢/kg. A highlight of the week was a pen of certified grain fed bullocks sold with part proceeds going to the RFDS making to 220¢/kg. The trend of an improvement in export slaughter prices flowed onto the cows with medium weights around 4¢ dearer, while good heavy cows lift in price by up to 9¢/kg.

Exports dearer

Well bred calves returning to the paddock made to 232.2¢ with most around 204¢, and D muscle lines averaged 180¢/kg. A short supply of vealer heifers to local butchers made to 232.2¢ with most from 210¢ to 216¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers purchased by restockers averaged 4¢ less at 208¢ with some to 230.2¢, and lesser quality lines generally sold close to 180¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed averaged 7¢ cheaper at 210¢ with sales to 229.2¢/kg. Heavy feeders averaged 4¢ better at 196¢ and sold to 205.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers generally sold in the high 180¢ range with one pen meeting particularly strong competition from restockers and sold to 248.2¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade made to 221.2¢ to average 193¢ and heavy weights to the supermarket trade made to 206.2¢ to average 189¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 7¢ dearer at 186¢ and sold to 199.2¢/kg.

A large selection of bullocks made to 196.2¢ to average 10¢ dearer at close to 189¢ and a small selection over 750 kg lightweight made to 185.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 4¢ dearer at 128¢ and sold to 133.2¢/kg. Heavy 3 scores averaged 138¢ while the better condition categories made to 160¢ with a fair sample 9¢ dearer at close to 152¢/kg.


Quality remains mixed

Cattle numbers managed to creep forward by 4% across the MLA’s NLRS reported markets this week. There were mixed trends amongst markets with Warrnambool reporting the largest yarding increase of over 60%. This was followed by Shepparton which was more than 40% higher week-on-week. Camperdown and Ballarat both increased by around 15%. Of the markets which contracted, Leongatha was back by 40% and Pakenham reduced by 17%. Bairnsdale and Colac were both down by around 5% while numbers at Wodonga were just short of steady.

The quality of the young cattle was improved, especially at Wodonga and Shepparton where some excellent quality vealers and supplementary fed yearling steers were presented. However many secondary lines of young cattle are still being drawn. The quality of grown cattle continued to be plain to average, with a larger quantity of leaner dairy breeds sold. There were some good heavy steers and bullocks presented at some markets.

Buyer demands relaxed this week as most categories sold cheaper. Restockers were present however not very active, making only sporadic purchases. The Victorian yearling heifer indicator dropped 2¢ to 201¢ while the steers were 7¢ cheaper at 208¢/kg. All the regular processors were present and operating however prices for young cattle to slaughter dropped back. Vealer steers dropped 16¢ to 404¢ while the heifers were down 2¢ to 214¢/kg. Most of the export buyers were present however not all made purchases causing grown cattle to sell at a mixed trend. Bullocks were 4¢ dearer, making 198¢ while cows were back 4¢ to 142¢/kg.

Prices firm to slightly dearer

Light vealer steers to slaughter lifted slightly averaging 209¢ while the heavy B muscle lines made from 208¢ to 250¢/kg. Medium weight C2’s ranged in price from 185¢ to 246.6¢ settling on 205¢ while the heavy C2 and C3 lines averaged 198¢ and 215¢/kg respectively. Yearling steers to process topped at 229¢ to finish on 208¢ while the majority were heavy weight C3’s ranging from 182¢ to 224¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling heifers eased 2¢ on 201¢ while the heavy weight equivalents topped at 225¢ to make 192¢/kg.

The bulk of the heavy weight grown steers saw increased demand from processors lifting 5¢ to average197¢ while C4 bullocks strengthened by 2¢ to finish on 198¢/kg. Light weight C4 grown heifers varied in price from 175¢ to 202¢, the D3 lines topped at 180¢ to be 6¢ dearer on 167¢/kg. Medium weight D1 dairy cows remained relatively firm on 119¢ while D3 beef cows topped at 163¢ to average 143¢/kg. The heavy weight D2 dairy cows were steady on 136¢ while D4 beef cows made from 138¢ to 160.6¢ to finish on 151¢/kg.

West Australia

Lower physical market numbers

Yet again the southern corner of WA recorded another week of only limited rainfall. This continues to leave the season in the balance with soil moisture levels very limited in the majority of areas. Early in the week there was weak frontal activity that brought most areas light falls of rain. Temperatures however have remained moderate.

Pasture growth remains below average however for this time of year with paddock bulk less than what would normally be seen at this time of year. Conditions in the north of WA remain reasonable despite temperatures beginning to rise.

The volumes seen in saleyards remained limited. Muchea remained the largest of the three weekly sales, but despite this recorded lower total numbers than the previous week. Cattle supplies at both the southwest and Great Southern yards remained limited, but this is not unusual at this time of year. The supplies of pastoral cattle supplied from the north, although lower than the previous week remained solid.

Quality on the other hand showed a sharp drop off throughout the classes with solid supplies of plain muscled and conditioned drafts recorded throughout. The quality of local grades was mixed also the greatest percentage of locally produced cattle seen in physical markets sold predominately store condition with slaughter grades remaining hard to find.

Subsequently there continued be only very limited numbers of prime trade and heavy weight steers and heifers available with cow numbers remaining reasonable. Trade demand was conservative but this has to be tempered by the very mixed quality available in physical markets this week.

Saleyard quality remains mixed

There were fewer supplies of calves penned in physical markets this week. Most remained sourced from pastoral areas and these enjoyed a slight recovery from the restocker sector after the weak demand and solid falls in values recorded the previous week. Prime local calf weights recorded a weaker demand from the local trade and retail sectors, which saw lower prices realised. The few supplies of trade weight local yearling steers and heifers remained of a mixed quality. Demand was selective from the local processing sector and subsequently prices were spread over wide ranges, but overall the market remained at similar levels to last week when these issues are factored in.

The vast majority of heavy weight steers and bullocks were sourced from pastoral regions and were of a mixed quality. Generally processor demand remained conservative on a very mixed quality with overall prices slightly lower than the previous week. This was also the case in heavy weight heifer sales, while demand for local prime heavy weight cows from the trade remained reasonable with similar prices subsequently recorded to a high of 128c/kg lwt. Heavy weight bulls started the week at lower levels that were never recovered.

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