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 21 September 2012
clock icon 7 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Yardings decreased

Numbers at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS fell by 23 per cent as producers adopt a wait-and-see approach to the start of spring. The recent fall in market prices combined with the forecast of some rain severely reduced supply at markets early in the week. However by mid week with very little rain recorded in the weather change numbers remained relatively large at Dalby. Buyer representation was erratic with a reduced buying panel early in the week while by mid week the usual contingent of buyers was present however not all were operating.

Prices vary

Prices were also erratic from centre to centre as the week progressed. Prices generally eased across all categories early in the week with the young cattle 4¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. A small selection of bullocks lost 10¢, and cows eased by 4¢ to 5¢ and up to 7¢/kg in places. However by mid week despite no rain and a fairly large yarding values turned around for a large number of categories. Young lightweight cattle improved due to strong support from feeder operators restockers and the trade. Southern processors provided the strongest competition and lifted prices on lightweight yearling heifers by 9¢/kg. Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter lost a further 2¢ to 5¢/kg. Cow values were very erratic and varied up-and-down by 2¢ to 5¢/kg as the week progressed and despite some gains in places across all markets finished the week 2¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper.

Calves to restockers averaged 208¢ with the occasional sale to 238.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed improved 5¢ to average 207¢ and sold to 220¢, while a large number returned to the paddock 4¢ better at 212¢ with sales to 225.2¢/kg. A large sample of medium weight feeders averaged 195¢ and heavy feeders 190¢/kg. Bullocks made to 187.2¢ with most close to 180¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 128¢ and good heavy cows made to 160¢ to average 145¢/kg.

South Australia

Larger numbers

Overall supply increased with Naracoorte recording the largest gain. The larger numbers have led to split sales commencing the first week in October Mount Gambier increased slightly. Despite this overall trend, SA LE yarded less cattle. This has been due to dry conditions in many local and interstate areas causing many northern cattle to cross the border into SA and dampening demand.

Quality on the plain side

Quality has been mixed across all selling centres with many lean conditioned winter affected cattle coming forward. Naracoorte’s mixed quality yarding contained local, pastoral bred and good quality supplementary fed yearlings that sold to low levels of competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers, with feeder and restocker orders were quite active as the lower prices enticed more into the market.

Mt. Gambier’s mixed quality yarding sold quite erratically to the usual SA and interstate buyers. The varying quality caused many pens struggle to attract any bids.

Quality at SA LE was improved which caused stronger interest from buyers. Yearling steers generally sold at dearer levels to the trade and feeder orders, while the heifers were generally cheaper. Limited numbers of grown steers, grown heifers and manufacturing steers were available, while the increased cow yarding attracting improved prices.

Cheaper market

Most categories sold to a cheaper market. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 184¢ to 249¢/kg. Feeder and restockers sourced mainly lightweight steers from 165¢ to 212¢, or 12¢ to 25¢/kg less. Vealer heifers to the trade sold between 175¢ and 236¢, to be 8¢ to 20¢ cheaper. Yearling steers sold from 170¢ to 230¢/kg. Feeders and restockers purchased C muscled steers from 140¢ to 215¢/kg. Medium and heavy yearling C3 heifer sold from 168¢ to 207¢ to be averaging 10¢/kg less. Increased numbers to feeder and restocker activity were mainly between 140¢ and 185¢/kg at lower levels.

Grown steer generally made from 170¢ to 198¢ at prices unchanged to 10¢/kg cheaper, and averaging 330¢/kg cwt. Most beef cows sold from 113¢ and 148¢, or unchanged to 6¢ cheaper and mainly 240¢ to 290¢/kg cwt.


State yardings lift

Cattle yardings were down almost 8% across MLA’s NLRS reported Victorian markets. Most central and western markets recorded reduced numbers, however the larger eastern selling centres more than made up for the short fall. The most notable changes occurred at Leongatha which increased 61% to over 1,100 head and Pakenham which yarded 44% more cattle at over 1,000 head. Wodonga also boosted the states supply by increasing 23% with almost 2,200 head yarded.

The majority of the yarding was made up of cows, followed by grown steers and yearlings with an equal split between heifers and steers. There were more grown heifers, vealer steers and manufacturing steers available compared to last week.

Quality mixed in young cattle

The quality of the young cattle was down on last week, with mostly plain drafts. Better finished lines to the trade were scarce and attracted strong interest. In contrast grown cattle quality was reportedly better across the majority of markets with a good quality selection of manufacturing steers and bullocks. Cows were variable in quality with a very limited number of better muscled beef cows available.

Demand was mixed across markets. Shepparton reported a good panel of buyers however not all competed. A full contingent of processors were present at Wodonga young cattle, with the inclusion of one extra southern export buyer. Lot feeders were subdued however restockers took advantage of the strong supply of store conditioned cattle. The Wodonga cow sale however had a reduced buyer presence as both exporters were absent. Other markets reported a regular buyer attendance however demand was lower.

Vealers make gains amid cheaper market

Restockers bought medium C2 vealer steers for 8¢ less at 192¢ while processors paid 227¢ or 9¢/kg more for the B2 lines. The C2 vealer heifers sold to the trade for 201¢, 9¢/kg higher on last week. Heavy yearling C2 feeder steers were down 8¢ to 181¢ while the C3’s to the trade were unchanged at 199¢/kg. Large lines of heavy C3 yearling heifers to were down 3¢ to 184¢/kg.

Heavy C3 grown steers reduced 5¢ to 187¢ while the C4 bullocks also slipped 3¢ to 187¢/kg. Manufacturing D1 dairy steers lost 4¢ to 138¢ while the D2 heavy steers dropped back 4¢ to 154¢/kg. Light grown C4 heifers were 1¢ cheaper at 182¢ while the heifers were back 11¢ to 145¢/kg. Medium D1 dairy cows were up 3¢ to 118¢ while the heavy D2 dairy cows were back 2¢ to 131¢/kg. Heavy C3 beef cows lost 26¢ to average 141¢/kg.

West Australia

Saleyard numbers slightly lower

As temperatures continue to rise in the northern regions of WA, mustering activity and the turn off season is coming to a close. Conditions in the traditional cattle growing areas of the south of WA remain reasonable with further light rainfall recorded this week. This, coupled with added daylight and higher temperatures, have aided feed growth with most areas now reporting new average conditions for this time of year.

Numbers at saleyards dropped this week with both Muchea and Mt Barker having lower total yardings, while the southwest sales remained small. Pastoral cattle again accounted for the majority of Muchea’s yarding, however were sold in lower numbers this week with quality remaining very mixed throughout the classes. Prime local heavy weight steer and heifer numbers were marginally higher than the previous week, yet still only accounted for a limited percentage of total physical sale numbers. This was also the case with locally bred trade weight yearling volumes, while store numbers remained reasonable. Cow supplies at all three sales remained moderate.

Erratic demand

Trade demand and competition in most slaughter grades improved, coupled with the slightly higher supplies and improved quality. Live export demand for suitable local yearling steers started the week at similar levels as those seen during the previous week, but this petered out as the week progressed. Subsequently the majority of store steer values decreased despite a fair demand from the feeder and restocker sectors, while store heifer values remained similar to last week. The prime cow markets recorded an increase in processor competition that was primarily driven by local processors, with heavy weight sales approximately 5¢ to 6¢/kg lwt dearer. Heavy weight bull sales remained similar in value to a firm trade inquiry, with lightweight sales to live export and export feeders also remaining at similar levels.

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