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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

04 July 2008
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.

Queensland

A large lift in supply

A combination of the recent lift in values, the dry weather outlook, plus the new financial year resulted in a flood of numbers at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Supply lifted by 41% and the quality of the young grades was generally mixed with a large number purchased by feeders or restockers, with only a relatively small number suitable for the trade. The increased supply of slaughter grades of grown cattle was generally good. Most of the heavy steers and bullocks were in the 4 score range, and the penning of cows was also good with the vast majority 3 and 4 scores.

Buyer attendance at most markets was good, plus there was a strong representation from interstate. Despite the larger number of heavy steers and bullocks available at Dalby, values continued to improve. The young categories of heavy steers and bullocks climbed close to 10¢/kg, pushed on mainly from support from southern operators. Cows also shared in the stronger export market, with the poor condition lines receiving strong demand from restockers. The better condition grades also experienced stronger demand as processors battled to secure market share of the good-quality line-up.

Yearling steers and heifers in the heavyweight range met stronger competition from supermarkets and wholesalers. However feeder classes of yearlings generally sold to a firm market, with only some well bred lines lifting average prices in places. Restockers concentrated mainly on the C2 vealer steers and values managed to hold close to firm.

Export grades dearer

The well bred calves suitable for restockers the previous week were absent and average prices eased, nevertheless the grades available met good competition and averaged 183¢ with sales to 206¢/kg. Trade descriptions in the C2 range averaged 175¢ and made to 195¢/kg. Vealer steers sold to restockers at close to 190¢ with the occasional sale to 210¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 156¢, while small number to local butchers averaged 184¢, with B muscle classes to 212¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed generally sold around 171¢ to 177¢/kg. Heavy classes to the trade averaged 5¢ dearer at 179¢, and B muscle grades to 210¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed averaged 165¢, with medium weights selling closer to 158¢/kg. Heavy classes slaughter sold around 171¢ with sales to 190¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers to feed sold to 175¢ to average 166¢/kg.

Heavy steers to slaughter averaged 181¢, and the younger grades made to 203.6¢/kg. Bullocks generally sold around 177¢, and similar to the heavy steers the young categories reached 200.2¢/kg. A large sample of medium weight 3 score cows averaged 124¢ and 4 scores 5¢ dearer at 139¢/kg. An equally large number of good heavy cows averaged 6¢ better at 146¢ a few pens to 160¢/kg. Heavy bulls in large numbers made to 170¢ to average 9¢ dearer at 155¢/kg.

South Australia

Mixed quality yardings

With a South Eastern processor closing for their annual four week maintenance break, it was expected that prices may be affected by their absence. To some extent they were. There were also reports of a large consignment of pastoral cattle heading in for this week’s kill after being delayed by the heavy rains that descended on some of the pastoral regions a few weeks ago.

Naracoorte yarded increased numbers and contained one of the mixed quality yardings of young cattle you could witness, with lines of pastoral cattle from Frome Downs, together with off bred cattle predominant. There was another large run of cows as 730 head were turned off, with the Frome Downs lines in very good condition.

Mt. Gambier had a smaller yarding with another large yarding of 541 cows that featured increased numbers of very well bred heavy Friesians that attracted strong Victorian processor competition and sold to a peak of 150¢/kg lwt.

Millicent agents put together 330 cattle for its fortnightly sale.

The SA LE’s numbers fell and the first time below 1,000 head for quite a while. Overall quality slipped on previous weeks, with fewer prime quality supplementary feds being yarded. These sold to solid competition from the usual local and interstate buyers, although the South Eastern processor was a notable absentee. Due to the smaller numbers offered most young cattle attracted a dearer trend, with cows fluctuating even though a high of 160¢/kg lwt was achieved.

Price trends varied

It was a week where price trends were hard to follow, and mainly due to a major processor missing combining with the varying quality offered. Most vealer steers finished with feeder and restocker orders at rates between 156¢ to 188¢/kg. Limited trade purchases were from 175¢ to 234¢/kg as all steers sold from 2¢ to 9¢ cheaper and unchanged to 11¢/kg dearer. Most vealer heifers were sourced by feeders and restockers, with once again the trade hamstrung by the varying quality, as most sales ranged between 140¢ and 200¢, with isolated sales to 213¢/kg. This left prices varying from 1¢ to 20¢ dearer, and 1¢ to 11¢/kg cheaper. Prime yearling steers and heifers were keenly sourced by the trade between 175¢ and 214¢ for the steers and the heifers from 160¢ to 201¢/kg, at rates mainly unchanged to 2¢ to 8¢/kg dearer. However, feeder and restocker prices, together with plain quality trade purchases ranged mainly 3¢ to 7¢ either side of unchanged on both categories.

Small numbers of grown steers were 1¢ to 4¢ less, with only medium weights above 180¢/kg lwt. Cow prices varied 2¢ to 7¢/kg either side of unchanged, with beef cows generally cheaper and Friesians dearer.

Victoria

More numbers in north

Shepparton had the largest increase in supply and was one of three centres to offer a larger yarding, along with Wodonga and Ballarat. Comparatively, yardings in the Western District and Gippsland were slightly lower. Overall numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported were stable compared to last week. Across the state, there was a large lift in the supply of grown cattle.

More significant was the number of plain condition young cattle that were yarded with most selling to strong feedlot and restocker competition. In fact there wasn’t one market that recorded many good quality vealers and yearlings.

There was only a slight improvement to prices overall, but individual markets were varied. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) improved 2.50¢, closing at 340.25¢/kg cwt on Thursday. While purchases by feedlots have been solid, the prices paid were generally close to firm, which would indicate the need to keep costs down to ensure a profitable outcome later. However, a lot of plain condition C and D muscled cattle were purchased at cheaper rates.

Most of the increase in supply at Shepparton was due to more cows being penned, and like all other centres, a lot of cows are being sold due to the very good prices being paid at the moment.

The annual closure of export abattoirs for maintenance has begun, and the extent of this may not be felt till later, if at all as demand hasn’t faltered as yet.

Mixed price trend

Prime conditioned grades have continued to receive good rates, but anything outside this is selling to varied trend. The general trend for you cattle was firm to slightly cheaper, although well conditioned medium weight yearlings were dearer. There were small runs of excellent quality B muscle vealers and supplementary fed yearlings offered. The best price state-wide was achieved at Bairnsdale, where vealer steers reached 243¢ with most B muscle cattle across the state making from 210¢ to 235¢/kg. The better bred C muscle young cattle made from 175¢ to 230¢/kg. There have also been numerous purchases between 165¢ and 195¢/kg.

Grown steers have continued to sell well with reduced supply of quality prime lines making from 168¢ to 192¢, which was firm to 3¢/kg dearer. Bullocks averaged firm at 184¢/kg. Cow sales continue to dominate prices and comments with demand still very high. Better quality cows have made from 140c to 167c, but numerous dairy cows have been sold from 130c to 154c/kg. Carcass weight prices for D muscled medium weight cows averaged around the 300¢/kg mark. One highlight of the week was a cow sold at Bairnsdale that weighed 945kg, and returned $1,446/head.

New South Wales

Winter drought pattern

Cattle supply lifted only slightly at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. Yardings reflected a typical mid winter pattern exaggerated by drought conditions that officially affect more than 60% of the State. Recently weaned vealers too lean for processors and light weight yearlings were a feature at many centres as producers attempt save scarce pasture and feed reserves for winter and spring calving cows. With little prospect of fattening or growing out young stock, producers have been attracted by strengthening restocker and feeder demand in recent weeks.

Despite the large percentage of unfinished young cattle at most centres, competition remained strong. At Inverell where a slightly larger yarding contained increased numbers of light yearling steers, those to feeders were 10¢ to 15¢/kg dearer. At CTLX Carcoar in a larger and generally good quality yarding, restocker and feeder cattle were 4¢ to 8¢/kg dearer. However at Wagga, weight of numbers and very marginal seasonal conditions produced a market 7¢/kg cheaper for restocker vealer steers.

Prime vealers and yearlings remained very scarce although a few more crop fattened and grain assisted lines were evident at Tamworth, Gunnedah, Wagga and Scone. Competition from butchers and processors remained keen and most centres reported rises of 3¢ to 10¢/kg for well finished trade cattle.

Export categories provided limited numbers of quality grown steers and heifers although Gunnedah, CTLX and Casino reported a better selection of steers and bullocks. The cow market tended dearer as restockers maintained a floor for suitable light weight pens at a number of centres.

Market rises continue

Young cattle met solid demand from all sectors to record further small rises across all centres. Vealer steers to restockers held firm for generally plainer quality to average 187¢/kg. The better conditioned heavy vealer steers to slaughter lifted 5¢ to 10¢/kg, ranging from 180¢ to 224¢ and heifers to processors were 3¢/kg dearer. The C muscled pens reached 210¢ and averaged 181¢ while isolated sales of B muscle heifers topped at 226¢/kg at Scone. Light weight yearling steers going back to pasture were 5¢ dearer to average 183¢/kg. Feeders also paid 5¢ more for medium weights which ranged from 156¢ to 193¢/kg. Heavy C3s to kill were 2¢ dearer, reaching 214¢ and averaging 190¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feeders lifted 2¢ to 4¢ to average around 169¢/kg while heavy weights to slaughter held firm, reaching 200¢ and averaging 179¢/kg.

Feeder buyers were more active on grown steers with medium weights averaging 6¢ dearer at 178¢/kg. Heavier steers to slaughter eased slightly and averaged 178¢/kg. Grown heifers lifted 3¢ to average 162¢/kg. Restockers gave strong support to light D1 cows, paying from 101¢ to 124¢/kg. Cows to processors gained 3¢ as most D3 and D4 cows ranged from 120¢ to 160¢/kg.

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