MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian territory by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 19 July 2013
clock icon 7 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


All markets held slightly higher numbers

All of the selling centres reported by MLA’s NLRS experienced slightly higher numbers this week. Shepparton was the only exception, yarding around 200 less than their 1,700 head of the previous week. Most markets hosted the usual mixed quality selections, though some better quality numbers did come forward. This was in the form of supplementary fed and some better pasture fed drafts in good 2 and 3 score condition. There was even some improvement in the form of 2 and 3 scores compared to the recent 1 and 2’s that have dominated at most centres.

Most of the regular buyers operated

The usual fields of buyers were at most markets, though Colac and Leongatha had reduced attendance and there was one extra exporter at Warrnambool. Southern processors were present at Wodonga, but were not as keen on 2 and 3 score cows. They were, however, stronger on other cows and other categories of cattle. Restocker buyers were somewhat erratic with their attendance and participation at markets this week.

Only cows were clearly dearer

There were mixed price trends amongst the various categories of cattle within individual markets. The only clear trend was for cows, which sold to continuing stronger demand and even higher prices. Overall the vealers were from 15¢ lower to 15¢/kg higher for the C3 grades to processors. Yearlings were generally a few cents higher for the C3 grade, especially for the better pasture and supplementary fed types. The C3 grown steers averaged 2¢ better and ranged from 166¢ to 195¢/kg. Overall, bullocks of the C4 grade were 1c easier amongst the dearer and cheaper markets. They sold from 170¢ to 199¢, while the manufacturing D2 grade was 2c easier, selling between 128¢ and 160¢/kg. Cows were anywhere from firm to 12¢/kg dearer, and generally the leaner Friesians saw the best of the increases.

Western Australia

Normal seasonal conditions the new challange

Rainfall in the south and dry conditions in pastoral areas heralded a return to normal seasonal conditions in WA this week. With relatively dry conditions in pastoral areas, mustering and transport of pastoral stock has begun in areas delayed by unseasonal wet conditions. In the south, good rains have been experienced across all traditional cattle areas. Southern coastal feed conditions are now assured for the time being, though cold conditions will limit growth in the near future. Eastern regions have hope, with dying pastures given a short reprieve, though they will require following rain shortly.

Yardings decline

Both southern markets received limited consignments this week, partially due to wet weather. Southern consignments fell by more than 50%. Muchea consignments lifted slightly, and included solid numbers of local store cattle offloaded because of limited feed. In addition, there was a visible increase in pastoral deliveries as transporters resume normal access to these regions. Locally bred heavy steer and heifer numbers remain limited, along with limited numbers of good quality trade steers and heifers. Feeder and restocker steer and heifer quality continues to decline, however they still remain the largest portion of the markets. Cow and bull numbers made a strong rebound, with improved pastoral supply.

Prices trend lower dependant on quality

Trade steer and heifer prices remained firm overall. Grass finished drafts were limited, with most trade sales being grain assisted. Muchea trade demand was dominated by supplementary finished drafts, with inadequate feed levels for grass finished lines. Feeder heifer and steer drafts were met with variable competition. Heavier weight drafts of better breeding found firm demand to finish slightly cheaper. Lower quality and light weight drafts continue to slip in price, with both sales considerably cheaper for plainer lines. Grown steer and heifer supplies remained similar, but quality was lower at Muchea. Both categories saw solid price decreases. Cow quality and demand decreased this week, with pastoral supplies becoming more plentiful and processors receiving solid numbers direct to works. Prices fell by close to 15¢/kg across most categories. Bull sales were cheaper for heavy weights to processors. Light weight bull sales varied, with better drafts firm but plainer lines discounted.


South Australia

Numbers back and quality mixed

Supply eased 6%, with Mount Gambier hosting 21% less cattle. Naracoorte supply lifted 12%. Overall quality at the markets was plain to good and, considering the previous long dry spell and late autumn break, cattle have held on quite well. Cows are faring the best, although their supply varied a lot, compared with other cattle categories. Several heavy 4 and 5 score and even over-conditioned beef cows are still being seen amongst the 1 and 2 scores, as well as steady numbers of 3 scores. Grown steer quality has tapered, while grown heifers are very mixed but mostly present in 2 to 3 and even 4 score condition.

Some buyer competition eased

Buyer participation remained level, with exporters generally purchasing cows. Trade buyers seem to be trying to top up supply out of markets. Cow prices mainly lifted 4¢ to 8¢/kg, while young cattle prices were firm at best in their plain to good quality offerings. Restockers were active earlier in the week, but by mid-week prices had eased. Renewed competition at Naracoorte on yearlings to feed-on resulted in some dearer prices.

New South Wales 

Cattle numbers slip back

With increased rainfall recorded throughout the state during this week, numbers eased by 15% at MLA’s NLRS reported markets week-on-week. Wagga commenced the week’s sales, yarding much the same numbers, as Forbes and Gunnedah lost 45% and 18%, respectively. CTLX Carcoar slipped 8%, as the northern sales all reported large decreases, with Armidale yarding 50% fewer cattle. Trends at the Hunter markets varied, as Scone eased 26% and Singleton offered slightly higher numbers. Dubbo also penned extra cattle, to total 2,430 head.

Quality was mixed

The majority of markets reported a mixed quality offering, however most stated numbers of prime supplementary fed cattle suitable for slaughter on offer. Younger cattle continued to dominate market percentages. The heifer portion penned 3,888 head, with again the majority of the younger cattle selling to restocker and feeder orders. Cow categories made up the bulk of the older cattle penned, with around 2,800 head offered. Prime conditioned heavy weight steers and bullocks continued to be yarded, with a touch over 600 head penned.

Younger cattle trended slightly cheaper

Markets reported younger cattle struggling to remain firm, except were quality and breed lifted prices in places. The 200kg+ vealer steers returning to the paddock lost 4¢ to average 175¢, though the best reached 204¢/kg. The same weight heifer portion to processor orders sold close to firm, averaging 157¢/kg. Yearling steers to feeders and restockers trended dearer and reached 210¢, before settling on an average of 185¢ to 187¢/kg. Heavyweight yearling steers to the butchers sold at similar prices, while the heifer portion to the same orders trended cheaper. Prime heavyweight grown steers and bullocks lifted 4¢, as cows on average trended another 5¢ to 7¢/kg dearer. The plainer 2 score cows averaged 115¢, with the better covered 3 and 4 scores ranging from 100¢ to 159¢/kg. The best of the heavy weight bulls continue to average in the 160¢ to165¢/kg range.


Buyer attendance varied

The continuing harsh conditions across the larger cattle producing areas of the state forced an increased number of lightweight young cattle into the market. The return of Longreach into the selling program, combined with the second highest level of cattle for the year at Dalby, increased overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS by 18%. There was a wide variation in quality across all categories, and young cattle were in the largest numbers. Buyer representation continued to be erratic and at some centres export processor attendance was not as good as the previous week, while at the Roma store sale limited numbers of restocker buyers were present.

Young cattle sell to a cheaper trend

Prices generally eased across most classes, with restockers and processors unable to absorb the larger numbers of lightweight young cattle. Over 1,000 head of lightweight cattle under 200kg lwt lost up to 20¢ in places and most returned to the paddock at just under 160¢, with sales to 187¢/kg. Vealer heifers also sold to a cheaper trend, averaging 10¢ less, however a small selection suited to the local butcher trade met strong demand to reach 199¢/kg. A large sample of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 13¢ cheaper at 166¢, with the very occasional sale to 194¢/kg. Medium and heavyweight yearling steers to feed mostly sold in the 160¢/kg range and, while average prices eased, well bred heavyweights still made to 178¢/kg. The best of the lightweight yearling heifers to restockers made to 144¢, however D muscle lines were in the largest numbers and averaged in the 120¢/kg range.

Bullock and cow prices ease

A relatively small sample of bullocks averaged 7¢ cheaper at 161¢, with a few pens to 173¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks made to 152¢, however a consignment of very heavy classes reduced average prices to 130¢/kg. Medium weight 1 score cows averaged 2¢ cheaper at 81¢, and the 2 scores lost 6¢ to average 85¢, with sales to 108¢/kg. Good heavy cows across all markets averaged 6¢ less at 122¢, with the occasional sale to 132¢/kg.

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