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 23 November 2012
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Numbers larger again

Following on from the large increases last week, supply across markets reported by MLA’s NLRS has lifted another 9 per cent. This was despite a number of centres offering reduced numbers, with Leongatha and Shepparton most affected. The reductions were easily counteracted by larger offerings at Warrnambool, Pakenham and Ballarat. State throughput was up 5 per cent when compared to the corresponding period in 2011.

Young cattle accounted for just 34 per cent of the offering and were mostly yearlings with vealer heifers in the smallest numbers. The grown steers and cows were in the largest numbers once again and combined to represent just over 50 per cent of the cattle penned.

Variable quality

A couple of markets offered a greater percentage of finished cattle carrying plenty of weight. This was particularly noticeable at Wodonga, Shepparton and Warrnambool were larger numbers of good heavy cattle were penned. There were also still the usual plainer lines across all markets that were more suited to feeders and restockers. This is to be expected considering the variation in seasonal conditions across the state.

Young cattle cheaper

Heavy B and C muscle vealer steers lost 4¢ to 12¢/kg with the top quality B muscle lines most affected. Most sales were from 189¢ to 197¢ with sales to 212¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling steers to slaughter eased 5¢ to 183¢ as the heavy C3s were 4¢ cheaper at 179¢/kg. The yearling heifers also sold to a reduced market with the C3 medium weights dropping 11¢ to average 164¢ as the D3s sold around 148¢/kg. Going against the trend were the heavy C3s which improved 6¢ to 164¢/kg.

Heavy C3 steers were 5¢ cheaper at 173¢, as the C4s slipped 3¢ to 181¢/kg. The bullocks generally ranged from 168¢ to 172¢/kg, which was down by 5¢ to 6¢/kg. The few heavy bullocks made mostly from 158¢ to 160¢/kg. Medium weight beef cows ranged from 119¢ to 133¢, as the dairy portion made closer to 110¢/kg. Heavy C and D muscle beef cows sold from 123¢ to 136¢ with sales to 146¢/kg. Heavy dairy cows held close to firm with most from 113¢ to 121¢/kg.

South Australia

Smaller numbers

The SA LE’s smaller mixed quality yarding featured mainly young cattle which met fluctuating competition from the usual trade and export buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were active. Vealers were scarce, while most yearling steers sold to feeder orders at mainly lower levels, with the C3 steers to the trade generally dearer.

The C3 yearling heifers followed suit to the trade and were dearer, with C2 sales to feeder activity also improving. Cow prices lifted on a smaller yarding, as most sold from 86c to 131¢/kg to processors and some restocker activity.

Naracoorte’s numbers decreased and contained cattle from a wide range of areas which sold to soft trade and export competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers, with a couple merely looking on and others including a supermarket only sourcing limited numbers. Feeder and restocker orders were active as prices were lower and became hard to resist.

Mt. Gambier’s smaller yarding sold erratically, with early sales losing ground as grown steers and bullocks sold below 175¢/kg and generally set the tone for retreating prices. Most of the usual trade and export buyers were present, however many were only sourcing limited numbers. Most vealers were cheaper until an excellent quality run late in the sale lifted prices to dearer levels. Most yearlings and grown heifers were cheaper, while cows tended to fluctuate.

Millicent’s smaller yarding sold to a limited number of regular buyers at generally lower levels, with only isolated sales of vealers being dearer.

Most categories lose ground

With so many cattle being sent direct-to-works, the smaller numbers yarded could not stop prices from losing ground.

The B muscled vealer steers to the trade sold from 185¢ to 218¢, with light weights 4¢ cheaper and heavy weights 2¢/kg dearer. Limited C2 and C3 sales sold between 175¢ and 197¢/kg. Feeders sourced C and B muscled light and medium weight steers from 159¢ to 202¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade sold from 160¢ to 213¢, or unchanged to 3¢ dearer for the B muscled and 3¢/kg cheaper for the C muscled.

Yearling C3 and B muscled medium and heavy weights sold between 145¢ and 180¢, or 5¢ to 13¢/kg cheaper. Feeders sourced C2 and C3 steers over a wide range of weights from 120¢ to 182¢, or 9¢ to 18¢/kg cheaper. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were between 134¢ and 180¢ at prices 3¢ to 21¢/kg less. Feeder orders sourced C2 and C3 heifers from 118¢ to 179¢/kg at lower levels.

Grown steers and bullocks, C3 and C4 sales ranged mainly from 147¢ to 175¢, to be 7¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper or 265¢ to 325¢/kg cwt. The 2 to 5 score beef cows sold from 100¢ to 142¢/kg, or 220¢ to 264¢/kg cwt.

Lack of rainfall increases yardings

Disappointing rainfall across the south-east corner of the state lifted numbers in Toowoomba and Warwick. Yardings more than doubled at the Roma store sale and the return of the dry weather across western districts also lifted supply in Dalby. Overall numbers across the state lifted by 14% despite the absence of Longreach.

Overall quality was generally mixed across all classes, and the Roma store sale recorded the largest variation in quality. Buyer representation for the young cattle continues to be good and one additional export processor was present at markets early in the week. Mid week saw all major export processors in the market and the majority were operating.

Young cattle trends cheaper

Prices for most classes of young cattle commenced the week on a strong trend, however by mid-week, apart from vealer heifers receiving strong support, all other classes fell. Vealer heifers across all markets averaged 4¢ better on 194¢ with a small sample to local butchers reaching 224.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers followed a very erratic trend, dependant on quality. A very large sample of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 11¢ cheaper at 195¢ with a few pens to 219.2¢/kg.

Medium weight yearling steers also experienced price reductions of 4¢ to average 183¢ and occasional sales to 205.2¢/kg. Heavy weights to feed across all markets averaged 3¢ less on 182¢/kg. The best lightweight yearling heifers averaged 183¢, while a large number of D muscle lines averaged 155¢ to 175¢/kg.

Heavy steers and bullocks improved in price at early week markets, while by mid and late week sales the average prices fell by 3¢ to 4¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 179¢ and occasionally reached above 194¢/kg. Cows followed a similar trend meeting strong demand early in the week. While mid-week prices experienced a mixed trend with the lower fat scores easing by 3¢ to 7¢, with medium weight 2 scores at 118¢, and 3 scores at 132¢/kg.

A few consignments of high yielding cows from Western districts boosted the quality of the heavy classes and average prices moved forward by 2¢, with a fairly large sample at 147¢/kg.

New South Wales

Throughput drops

Total throughput decreased by 3 per cent at markets reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service. The largest decline was recorded at Gunnedah, down 26 per cent with the yarding consisting of good numbers of yearlings and grown steers. Forbes also yarded fewer numbers with the majority being young cattle, suitable for restocker and feeder buyers.

Consignments at both Scone and Tamworth were 16 per cent higher as the two selling centres had good amounts of plainer yearlings suitable for restockers. CTLX supply was up 13 per cent, with a good penning of cows and grown steers accounting for most of the increase. Wagga, Goulburn, Singleton and Casino all yarded similar numbers to last week.

Quality still plain

Supplementary fed cattle are still evident through most selling centres with prices higher for the better quality lines. The majority of saleyards are still yarding plain and secondary lines of yearlings with restocker activity is easing as the dry weather continues.

Processor activity has been consistent on grown steers and cows, however reports suggest many processors have sufficient supplies available. Young cattle at Scone and Casino were mainly plain in quality, while some over conditioned heifers were yarded at Wagga.

Prices slip

Medium weight vealer steers to restocker orders were 2¢ higher on 199¢, while medium weight C2 lines to slaughter were 7¢ lower on 199¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter were 7¢ cheaper on 193.7¢/kg.

Light weight yearling steers to restockers lost 4¢ to 187¢, while medium weights returning to the paddock were unchanged to average 182¢/kg.

Medium weight yearling steers to feeders only eased 1¢ to 182¢/kg. Light weight yearling heifers to restockers were firm on 166¢, while medium weight C2 drafts to feed were 3¢ lower on 162¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed decreased 4¢ to average 172¢, while heavy weight C3 lines to processors lost 5¢ to 173¢/kg. Bullocks to slaughter were 4¢ cheaper on 171¢/kg. Heavy weight grown heifers to feed were 3¢ lower on 179¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows to slaughter were unchanged to settle on 120¢, while heavy weight D3 lines also to slaughter were 3¢ cheaper on 135¢/kg.

Western Australia

Saleyard numbers fall

Hot temperatures remain in the north of the state with isolated and scattered thunderstorms bringing reasonable rainfall to some areas. These conditions continue to hamper activity with this year’s mustering season now all but over. Temperatures have also risen in the southern Agricultural districts of WA with pasture paddocks in the vast majority of areas having now hayed off with the growing season finished.

Saleyard numbers were lower with both Muchea and the southwest numbers decreasing, while Mt Barker increased its volumes. Muchea’s lower yarding was due to smaller supplies of pastoral cattle, while the weak market conditions continue to influence local producers to sell their cattle on a direct- -to-works basis.

This has continued to see processors comment on very solid booking levels, both currently and on a forward basis with local operators continuing to comment on very tough wholesale and retail conditions.

Vealer supplies on the rise

Vealer supplies are on the rise with south-western agents beginning their weekly vealer rosters, while the Mt Barker market is due to start its two day format at the end of next week. Trade weight yearling supplies remained moderate, while heavy weight steer and heifer volumes remained limited. Cow volumes were lower with fewer local and pastoral drafts available.

Demand conservative

Trade demand remained conservative across all slaughter classes, reflecting the strong supply lines currently available. Consequently there was little or no change recorded in most slaughter classes, while feeder demand for both yearling stores and new season vealers remained moderate.

Restocker demand and competition remained selective throughout the classes and was again generally conservative on both yearling store and vealer classes. Live export demand remained confined to lightweight bull classes and continued at similar levels with little or no change recorded in prices.

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